BookTalk Nation — Check it out

I have “discovered,” after about a year of hearing about it, an interesting, engaging, and useful blogsite called BookTalk Nation.  On it you can hear  half-hour interviews with authors of fiction and non-fiction books.  You access the interview by computer at booktalknation.com or by phone (212/563-5904).  This is a fairly new enterprise sponsored jointly by The Authors Guild and the independent bookstores who join.  Hearing/seeing the interview is free, while profits from book sales resulting from each interview are shared, half by the “home” indie bookstore conducting the interview and half divided among the bookstores that have joined BookTalk Nation.  (Full disclosure:  I get a huge pile of nothing for telling you about all this.)

It’s a very cool idea, allowing writers to escape our lonely, harsh lives—You know, “sit down and open a vein”—to hear how other writers do it, what their lives are like, where their inspiration and characters come from, etc.-squared.  So, go to booktalknation.com and see if it’s good for you.  Hit the “HELP” key in the upper right corner of their home page for answers to most of the questions you may already have.

The next interview is with Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club (non-fiction), Thursday, March 7 at 3:00pm Pacific Time.  The next fiction tallk is Tuesday April 2, 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST with Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train.

Oh, almost forgot.  If you have a book already published, you can click on a button at the lower left of BookTalk Nation’s home page to offer yourself for an interview spot, along with an indie bookstore you’d like to conduct it.  Which is a nice switch, the author getting to select the interviewer.

AN OVERNIGHT SENSATION

ONCE AGAIN, THANKS TO MY NEWSMAN FRIEND TOM COCHRUN FOR SENDING ME THE FOLLOWING LINK TO A RECENT AND ENJOYABLE NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ON OLD-TIME NEWSPAPER FILMS, STARRING THE LIKES OF BOGART, BETTE DAVIS, BURT LANCASTER, CARY GRANT, ROSALIND RUSSELL, KIRK DOUGLAS, JIMMY STEWART, JACK WEBB, HOFFMAN/REDFORD, AND EVEN BORIS KARLOFF.

[WANT TO KNOW WHY I’M WRITING THIS IN ALL CAPS?  ‘CAUSE THAT’S THE WAY STORIES CAME OVER THE TELETYPE — AP, REUTERS, UPI.]

REMINDS ME OF NIGHTS AT UPI—8PM TO 4AM, EAST 42ND ST., NYC—AND MY BRIEF CAREER IN JOURNALISM HANDLING SUCH HEART-POUNDING NEWS AS THE FINAL RACE RESULTS FROM RUIDOSO DOWNS, NEW MEXICO.  THERE WERE BITS OF EXCITEMENT, THOUGH.  ONE NIGHT A GUY IN A CANARY YELLOW SPORTS COAT [HEY, THIS WAS THE MID-1960S!] COMES INTO THE UPI OFFICE—ENTIRE 11TH FLOOR, NO INSIDE WALLS, ONLY ROUND CONCRETE COLUMNS HOLDING UP THE CEILING— HANDS ME A BIG, THICK MANILA ENVELOPE BEARING THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE LOGO.

OUR MAN IN THE SLOT (OVERNIGHT EDITOR) IS BUSY DOING THE NEXT DAY’S NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD PUZZLE, SO HE DOESN’T ASK WHAT’S IN THE ENVELOPE OR WHO IT’S FROM.  TELLS ME TO WRITE 30 COLUMN INCHES BECAUSE IT’S A SLOW NIGHT.  TURNS OUT IT’S THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE NFL-AFL MERGER, A VERY BIG DEAL FOR THE HORDES OF CITIZENS INTERESTED IN PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL.

SO, I’M TYPING AWAY, SALIVATING ALL OVER THE UPRIGHT BLACK UNDERWOOD’S KEYS, WHEN MILT RICHMAN, UPI’S TOP SPORTS WRITER, REACHES OVER MY SHOULDER, RIPS THE PAPER OFF THE TYPEWRITER PLATEN, AND SCOOPS UP THE ENVELOPE AND CONTENTS, SAYING NOT A WORD, BUT SETTLING INTO HIS OWN SACRED HIGH-BACKED CHAIR TO POUND OUT THE SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR…OR MONTH…OR WEEK.

I COULDA BEEN A CHAMPION.

EXTRA! EXTRA! NO PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION!

I’m sure that fewer than ten among my sea of readers have missed the shocking news that the Pulitzer Prize committee has decided not to award a prize for fiction this year.  This is the first time in thirty-five years that this has happened over the ninety-six years of Pulitzer awards.

Here is a quote from the New York Times article:

… it was the absence of an award for fiction that was perhaps the most shocking result of the committee’s voting. A winning book can be an instant boost to sales and is one of the most closely watched awards in the publishing industry. Finalists in the category included “Train Dreams” by Denis Johnson, “Swamplandia!” by Karen Russell and “The Pale King” by David Foster Wallace, who died in 2008.
Jonathan Galassi, the publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, said he was “shellshocked” by the lack of a winner in fiction.

Are you bothered, irate, or even outraged by this decision?  Or, is this a literary yawn?  Does it, perhaps, gladden you?  I’d like to know your opinion of the Pulitzer decision re: this year’s fiction, and will share with you not only the results, but also will then reveal my own feelings on the subject.  (This may seem like the modus opinioni of politicians:  “Poll first, then take your courageous stand,” though I would not sink to such depths.  Trust me.)  So, please comment with your opinion and reason.  My regular post will appear nearer the weekend.