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Thread: Pulitzer as a measure of good literature

  1. #1
    plz O plz put it away!!1 ucdawg12's Avatar
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    Pulitzer as a measure of good literature

    Hi, I am a fairly new reader(I am 16) and I am trying to enlighten myself as much as possible by reading great or acclaimed literature such as Moby-Dick, A Portait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, etc because I love the symbolism and such that is hidden deep in these books.

    Anyway on my quest to find more classic books I figured that the Pulitzer would be a good measure of the literature I am looking for, but the only piece of work I noticed on that list was The Magnifcent Ambersons, which I also plan to read, and that was only because I know that the movie was directed by Orson Welles and butchered etc...

    But, I was just wondering, is this a legit source? I think its pretty prestigious but so are the Academy Awards yet they have made some unequivocal errors over the years.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    in a blue moon amuse's Avatar
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    last week i had an assignment re: pulitzers (ended up writing about eddie adams - the winner of spot photography in '69); here is the website:
    http://www.pulitzer.org/
    i'm not sure what you mean by "legit source," if you're referencing pulitzer prize winners there are 21 different categories, and they are judged by a board (http://www.pulitzer.org/year/2001/board.html). there are guidelines that must be followed, and if you don't like the "fiction" winner one year, there's also the category of non-fiction, drama, bio, poetry, photography, music, et cetera.
    Last edited by amuse; 03-23-2004 at 12:35 AM.
    shh!!!
    the air and water have been here a long time, and they are telling stories.

  3. #3
    plz O plz put it away!!1 ucdawg12's Avatar
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    when I mean legit source, are these books any good or do they just fit the views of the Pulitzer board, like are the fiction and drama books that win actually the ones that deserve to win, or are there politics involved? One reason I ask is that because the latest great book that is well-known, to me atleast, is To Kill a Mockingbird but that was published in 1960 or around that time, maybe I am out of the loop cause I'm new at this...
    "O God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small."

  4. #4
    Right in the happy button IWilKikU's Avatar
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    dawg, there are great books published every year. Not all of them become household names within a decade, but if you want to read a book that is generally considered "good" by the literature comunity, you can't go wrong with anything published in a "classics series", such as Penguin, Signet, Bantam, ect... If you're looking for 10th century writers or even as recent as 21st century, people on this forum seem to know some good ones. Some of the most well liked classic authors on this board seem to be Dumas (3 Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo), Hugo (Hunchback of Notre Dame, Les Misrebles), Joyce (which you seem to be familiar with), and I'm sure people could give you further recomendations.

    One reason that you didn't recognise alot of the pulitzer winners is because they don't tend to select mainstream comercialized books. You're looking at the titles of some damn good books that weren't heavily publisized, but that doesn't make them any less good. I would trust pulitzer for a good read, but if you want to be able to discuss books with other lit nuts thats not the place to start.
    ...Also baby duck hat would be good for parties.

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    Welcome. May I commend you on your desire to enrich your life with literature. The only books I read as a teen consisted of Conan the Barbarian and books from the Forgotten Realms series. Then I don't think I even read for a decade, and tackled Moby Dick when I was thirty, or so.

    In my opinion, good literature is, just that, a matter of opinion. Some people think the award winners are boring and crap. I think one has to read everything with an open mind. Try to appreciate what the author is intending to tell you. You don't have to agree with it or like it. Books are judged on character development, structure, style, etc.

    There are more book awards, besides the Pulitzer. Here's a website I found that gives some information on these awards:

    http://www.literature-awards.com/

  6. #6
    Originally posted by Lara


    In my opinion, good literature is, just that, a matter of opinion. Some people think the award winners are boring and crap. I think one has to read everything with an open mind. Try to appreciate what the author is intending to tell you. You don't have to agree with it or like it. Books are judged on character development, structure, style, etc.

    Agreed Lara. Here's an excerpt from an interesting speech given by Steven King at the 2003 National Book Awards.

    But giving an award like this to a guy like me suggests that in the future things don't have to be the way they've always been. Bridges can be built between the so-called popular fiction and the so-called literary fiction. The first gainers in such a widening of interest would be the readers, of course, which is us because writers are almost always readers and listeners first. You have been very good and patient listeners and I'm going to let you go soon but I'd like to say one more thing before I do.

    Tokenism is not allowed. You can't sit back, give a self satisfied sigh and say, "Ah, that takes care of the troublesome pop lit question. In another twenty years or perhaps thirty, we'll give this award to another writer who sells enough books to make the best seller lists." It's not good enough. Nor do I have any patience with or use for those who make a point of pride in saying they've never read anything by John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Mary Higgins Clark or any other popular writer.

    What do you think? You get social or academic brownie points for deliberately staying out of touch with your own culture? [I would say pop culture, but point taken] Never in life, as Capt. Lucky Jack Aubrey would say. And if your only point of reference for Jack Aubrey is the Australian actor, Russell Crowe, shame on you.

    There's a writer here tonight, my old friend and some time collaborator, Peter Straub. He's just published what may be the best book of his career. Lost Boy Lost Girl surely deserves your consideration for the NBA short list next year, if not the award itself. Have you read it? Have any of the judges read it?

    There's another writer here tonight who writes under the name of Jack Ketchum and he has also written what may be the best book of his career, a long novella called The Crossings. Have you read it? Have any of the judges read it? And yet Jack Ketchum's first novel, Off Season published in 1980, set off a furor in my supposed field, that of horror, that was unequaled until the advent of Clive Barker. It is not too much to say that these two gentlemen remade the face of American popular fiction and yet very few people here will have an idea of who I'm talking about or have read the work.

    This is not criticism, it's just me pointing out a blind spot in the winnowing process and in the very act of reading the fiction of one's own culture. Honoring me is a step in a different direction, a fruitful one, I think. I'm asking you, almost begging you, not to go back to the old way of doing things. There's a great deal of good stuff out there and not all of it is being done by writers whose work is regularly reviewed in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. I believe the time comes when you must be inclusive rather than exclusive.

    That said, I accept this award on behalf of such disparate writers as Elmore Leonard, Peter Straub, Nora Lofts, Jack Ketchum, whose real name is Dallas Mayr, Jodi Picoult, Greg Iles, John Grisham, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connolly, Pete Hamill and a dozen more. I hope that the National Book Award judges, past, present and future, will read these writers and that the books will open their eyes to a whole new realm of American literature. You don't have to vote for them, just read them.


    full speech:

    http://www.nationalbook.org/nbaacceptspeech_sking.html

  7. #7
    Right in the happy button IWilKikU's Avatar
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    That was beautiful. Just beautiful.

    <slow applaud growing to standing ovation with tears running down face>
    ...Also baby duck hat would be good for parties.

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    I stopped reading King after Firestarter. Got bored with it.
    Faith is believing what you know ain't so - Mark Twain

    The preachers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves - Henry David Thoreau

    The way to see faith is to shut the eye of reason - Benjamin Franklin

    The teaching of the church, theoretically astute, is a lie in practice and a compound of vulgar superstitions and sorcery - Leo Tolstoy

  9. #9
    Right in the happy button IWilKikU's Avatar
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    Is that the only King you've read? Because if it is I would recomend the Bachman Books, The Stand (not everyone can handle the 1400+ pages, but I'm sure you can ), The Darktower Series (although its much more enjoyable if you're familiar with his other writings), and my personal fav Needful Things. Those are the books that I imagine people on this forum could get something from. I'm sure there are more, but its so hard to get lit snobs to read King to begin with.
    ...Also baby duck hat would be good for parties.

  10. #10
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    I read everything up to Firestarter. I thought The Stand and The Dead Zone were probably the best. But I just don't think I could get enough enthusiasm now to read any of his other stuff. The problem that I find with his work, is it lacks credibility. I am not convinced by his fiction.
    Faith is believing what you know ain't so - Mark Twain

    The preachers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves - Henry David Thoreau

    The way to see faith is to shut the eye of reason - Benjamin Franklin

    The teaching of the church, theoretically astute, is a lie in practice and a compound of vulgar superstitions and sorcery - Leo Tolstoy

  11. #11
    Originally posted by IWilKikU
    That was beautiful. Just beautiful.

    <slow applaud growing to standing ovation with tears running down face>
    LOL! Wow...

    Most of his stuff doesn’t interest me, but King’s written a couple gems in my estimation. His book, On Writing, was one of the best books on writing I’ve read. He claims to do little if any preparation, outlines nothing, and just goes. He does one draft, (with the door closed as he puts it) goes back and does a final draft. Who knows if it's true. My guess is he does a lot more editing than that.
    Last edited by hal9000; 03-25-2004 at 03:32 PM.

  12. #12
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    I would seldom trust what writer's say about their writing habits. They nearly always want to impress you, masquerading a falsity as truth.
    Faith is believing what you know ain't so - Mark Twain

    The preachers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves - Henry David Thoreau

    The way to see faith is to shut the eye of reason - Benjamin Franklin

    The teaching of the church, theoretically astute, is a lie in practice and a compound of vulgar superstitions and sorcery - Leo Tolstoy

  13. #13
    Super papayahed's Avatar
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    I usually take my recommendations from sites like this, but popular writers have their place, I like to think of them as the "television" form of books - fluffy, with not a lot of thinking.

    I'm wondering though - Thousand years of solitude is a selection of the month for some book club (I think Oprah), does any one else find it annoying that the masses are being turned on to this book?
    Do, or do not. There is no try. - Yoda


  14. #14
    Originally posted by den
    I get suspicious of `popular' writers, as I wonder how much help they get from others and also they're just too `hollywood' for me, King included.

    I'm glad when an obscure writer gets some recognition, but I usually don't listen to others recommendations, I like to make my own mind up about what and whom I will read.
    I’m suspicious of popular writers as well, and rarely buy any of their books - I did like The Shining though. What turns me off is the way writers are packaged and marketed like brand names with the John le Carres and Tom Clancys, and John Grishams always seemingly forced to stick to the same theme. A few contemporary writers I presume are on the fringe of mainstream that I like are Vonnegut, Pat Conroy, and John Irving.

  15. #15
    precious... subterranean's Avatar
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    Hi welcome.

    I think for some people, pulitzer is indeed become a sign for the so called good books. But personally, I don't really attracted with those words or advertisement on the book covers, such as "this year's best selling..author of the year..etc". Coz some books are tricksters, I mean you can only love their covers.


    "there are people in the world so hungry that God can not appear to them except in the form of bread"

    Mahatma Gandhi

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