Pulitzer Prize administrator Sig Gissler will retire this summer, Columbia University announced today.
I have, for better or worse, the opposite of a stage mother. It’s not that my parents didn’t think I was secretly brilliant as a child—thanks to the educational Disney cartoon Ben and Me, I could recite the Declaration of Independence before I was out of diapers—it’s just they just didn’t seem to care what I became when I grew up, so long as I voted Democrat and understood that my “life partner” was not obligated to have a Y-chromosome.
I only noticed their indifference because my best friend growing up in Chelsea was a child actor who was tragically let go after the Roseanne pilot, reportedly for having a beef with Sara Gilbert. Since I often accompanied him to his auditions, I actually had a few agents approach me to slap my mug on Shrinky Dinks boxes and the like, offers at which my mom just rolled her eyes. This was circa 1983, but I’m sure she’d roll them much harder right now, 30 years later, if she knew that I recently sent photos of her grandson to a Gap casting call.
I KNOW. I swore I’d never be that parent, the one who gazes beatifically at her toddler bashing a rock against a white picket fence and thinks, catalog model! But it’s legitimately hard to not view your kid as exceptional in every way; in my experience, procreating is like donning a pair of person-specific permanent beer goggles.
Woe betide our republic of letters! The shadowy culture arbiters who serve on the Pulitzer Prize board have withheld their favor from the field of American novels published in 2011. Booksellers, writers and critics have been up in arms ever since news of the non-award broke in mid-April. In a cri de coeur published in the New York Times’s op-ed pages, novelist Ann Patchett—who also runs an independent bookstore in Nashville—decried the committee’s abstention as a cause for “indignation” and, indeed, “rage.”
“I can’t imagine there was ever a year when we were so in need of the excitement the [fiction Pulitzer] creates in readers,” Ms. Patchett wrote.
It’s easy to miss, amid Ms. Patchett’s vehemence, the patent condescension that prize-dependent marketing visits upon American readers. In her distinctly arid account of readerly engagement, news of a prestigious laurel is what’s needed to generate “the buzz,” as she puts it, “that is so often lacking.” But the question is far better turned on its head: If an entire industry must rely on aloof prize boards to gin up sustained interest, then the trouble would seem to be the industry itself, rather than the prize boards or the consumers.
PUBLISH BUTTON BLOOPER REEL
It was Beyoncé Knowles who sang that “Girls (Run the World).” She would know, especially given Sunday’s mob scene outside Bar Pitti, where she and husband Jay-Z attracted an agitated crowd, frenzied by a rare public appearance of their new daughter, Blue Ivy.
For evidence, tune to HBO, which debuted a show Sunday night starring daughters of David Mamet, Brian Williams and Laurie Simmons, whose 24-year-old spawn, Lena Dunham, also wrote, directed and coproduced Girls alongside Hollywood’s favorite one-manchild movie factory, Judd Apatow.
Note that Beyoncé didn’t have “women” in the chorus of her song. Even though Hillary Rodham Clinton can cover the New York Post, drinking beer and earning a classic headline—‘SWILLARY!’—in the process, it would seem Old Age and Treachery are no match for the youth these days, or at the very least, the fawning attention youth commands.
In a piece entitled “The 2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Who’s Who,” it would seem The Daily Beast—our time’s great chronicler of overwrought ceremonies in which people are celebrated like accomplished swine and/or oversized root vegetables—has inexplicably published the winners of the 2012 Pulitzer Prizes, an entire hour before the rest of the world gets them!
And who, pray tell, pulled the Pulitzers?
Anthony Shadid, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who reported on the Middle East for the New York Times and Washington Post, passed away on Thursday in Syria. The details surrounding Mr. Shadid’s death are unclear but he may have suffered a fatal asthma attack. Mr. Shadid was in Syria reporting on the ongoing conflict between political opponents of President Bashar al-Assad and the Assad regime–a characteristic assignment in his remarkable career:
It’s always a pleasure to experience a well-written, expertly staged and sensitively acted play that is both provocative and off the beaten path. The current Off-Broadway revival of How I Learned to Drive, Paula Vogel’s 1998 critical blockbuster about incest, child abuse and destructive sexual empowerment, is such a play. Its excellent, limited run at Second Stage on West 43rd Street (through March 11, but don’t be surprised if packed houses and good reviews lead to an extension) is a must-see, and with the marvelous two-time Tony-winner Norbert Leo Butz taking a break from musicals to portray the tragic role of a pedophile with an oily charm that makes him understandable if not entirely forgivable, missing such an opportunity is out of the question.
I’m not sure I understand why this slight, 90-minute, one-act play won the Pulitzer Prize in a year that also produced the unforgettable musical sensation Side Show and the savage Irish drama The Beauty Queen of Leenane, but it does hold up well in retrospect.
And don’t forget: non-journalism Pulitzers.
- For fiction, Tinkers (Paul Harding)
- For drama, Next to Normal (music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey)
- For history, Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World (Liaquat Ahamed)
- For biography, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Read More
The Washington Post edged out The Times today and took home four Pulitzers to lead all newspapers in the 2010 Pulitzer Prizes.
It’s a big win for Post editor Marcus Brauchli, who has gone through a year marred by semi-scandals and bad publicity–the SalonGate, Sally Quinn’s embarrassing column, Read More
When the 2009 Pulitzer Prizewinners were announced at on Monday at Columbia University, Jon Meacham was far from New York at another institute for higher learning. The Newsweek editor and Andrew Jackson biographer was at a board meeting at Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, when his Read More