Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Pulitzer Prize for Reading

This seems to be my year for reading Pulitzer-Prize winning books. It started with "The Confessions of Nat Turner," which I read in the spring. I was taking an art history class, Race, Class and Gender in American Art, and racism of course was one of the areas we covered. We touched on slave rebellions, so I decided to read William Styron's book and kill two birds. I remembered it being on the best-seller list for a long time many years ago, and I found it an amazing feat of imagination.

Next came "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," by Michael Chabon. Fia happened to be reading another book by this author and told me about him. A smattering of investigation showed me that "Kavalier and Clay" sounded like it might be right down my alley --a book about two guys breaking into comic books at the dawn of the era, around 1939-- and it had won a Pulitzer besides. That one was very readable and VERY interesting for me. The cultural references rang true, and people like Stan Lee made cameos in the book. This was a Pulitzer winner made for me!

Of course, Pulitzer Prizes are of special interest to me because I am a journalist, and I know several winners in journalism categories. I can even say with a stretch that I am a part-winner my self, as my paper's staff won one for coverage on the 9/11 attacks. That's probably the closest I will ever come to winning one of my own--that or writing a fiction book (or maybe a graphic novel--who knows? Of course, I will have to START writing those things to have any hope...).

Apparently coincidentally, I renewed my interest in "South Pacific," which I had seen as a movie when I was around 8 years old. Fia was a spark plug here, too. I came upon her watching "South Pacific in Concert from Carnegie Hall," the
the 2006 concert with Reba McIntire, Alec Baldwin and, most importantly, Brian Stokes Mitchell, whom I had never heard of, but who sang spectacularly. So this piqued my always-active imagination, and I wound up buying the original Broadway cast album (for $7.97!), with Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza (1949), which I remember listening to after watching the movie. Mom and Dad had it on 78! What a great album! I later re-watched the lesser 1958 movie. A bit later, I realized that the play, quite amazing for tackling racial prejudice in its time, had also won a Pulitzer.
This led me to take out "Tales of the South Pacific" from the library, which obligingly had it in large type. I found this book to be pretty good, too. And another Pulitzer winner.
This was seeming more and more like fate. And fun and interesting.
At the same time, I started listening to
"No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II" by Doris Kearns Goodwin, because I have always been interested in the Roosevelts, and because SUNY Purchase would want me to take an American History course if I signed up with them, and I figured rather than take a boring survey course, I would look for something more specific and detailed. It was only after I started this one that I learned that it, too, was a Pulitzer winner.

I can't quite put it all together neatly, but it is certainly interesting that some of my seemingly slightly related interests are converging here. At the least, it is very efficient time use. And discovery on many planes.

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