May 2008 - Posts

Recently my mom mentioned that she's challenging herself to read every book that's ever won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The idea didn't initially inspire me to try the same, but it did pique my curiosity enough that I looked up the list of winners. But as I went through the list I realized some of my favorite books plus other works by some of my favorite novelists are on the list. I also noticed that I really like every book I've read from the list. So, without going all gung-ho and prioritizing these titles, I did decide to embark on a similar endeavor. I don't plan to set a date to complete the list by, nor am I drawing up a reading schedule. (Although I did take a minute to figure out that if I were to read one per month it would take me well over six years to complete this task!) Since I noticed I haven't read any of the winners from the 1970s, maybe I'll start there. Or maybe not. Like I said, I am not taking the disciplined approach. I'd be happy to take your recommendations of up to, say, three top picks from the "have yet to read" section. For now, what I am going to do is insert a winner into my reading here and there and keep track! So, to get started...

Books that have won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction that I have read:
The Age of Innocence  Edith Wharton (1921)
The Good Earth  Pearl S. Buck (1932)
Gone With the Wind  Margaret Mitchell (1937)
The Yearling  Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1939)
The Grapes of Wrath  John Steinbeck (1940)
The Old Man and the Sea  Ernest Hemingway (1953)
To Kill a Mockingbird  Harper Lee (1961)
A Confederacy of Dunces  John Kennedy Toole (1981)
The Color Purple  Alice Walker (1983)
Beloved  Toni Morrison (1988)
The Shipping News  E. Annie Proulx (1994)
Middlesex  Jeffrey Eugenides ( 2003)

Books that have won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction that I think I read but can't remember anything about:
A Death in the Family  James Agee (1958)
Tales of the South Pacific  James A. Michener (1948)

Books that have won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction that I have yet to read: 
2008 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
2007 The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2006 March by Geraldine Brooks
2005 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
2004 The Known World by Edward P. Jones
2002 Empire Falls by Richard Russo
2001 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
2000 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
1999 The Hoursby Michael Cunningham
1998 American Pastoral by Philip Roth
1997 Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser
1996 Independence Day by Richard Ford
1995 The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
1993 A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler
1992 A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
1991 Rabbit At Rest by John Updike
1990 The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
1989 Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
1987 A Summons To Memphis by Peter Taylor
1986 Lonesome Dove by Larry Mcmurtry
1985 Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
1984 Ironweed by William Kennedy
1982 Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
1980 The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
1979 The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
1978 Elbow Room: Stories by James Alan Mcpherson
1977 No award was given.
1976 Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow
1975 The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
1974 No award was given.
1973 The Optimist's Daughter (large Print) by Eudora Welty
1972 Angle of Repose by Wallace Earle Stegner
1971 No award was given.
1970 The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford by Jean Stafford
1969 House Made of Dawn by N Scott Momaday
1968 The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
1967 The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
1966 The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter
1965 The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau
1964 No award was given.
1963 The Reivers: A Reminiscence by William Faulkner
1962 The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor
1960 Advise and Consent by Allen Drury
1959 The Travels of Jaimie Mcpheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor
1957 No award was given.
1956 Andersonville by Mackinlay Kantor
1955 A Fable by William Faulkner
1954 No award was given.
1952 The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II by Herman Wouk
1951 The Town by Conrad Richter
1950 The Way West by A B Guthrie
1949 Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens
1947 All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
1946 No award was given.
1945 A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
1944 Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin
1943 Dragon's Teeth I by Upton Sinclair
1942 In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow
1941 No award was given.
1938 The Late George Apley by John Phillips Marquand
1936 Honey in the Horn by Harold Lenoir Davis
1935 Now in November by Josephine W. Johnson
1934 Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller
1933 The Store by Thomas Stribling
1931 Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes
1930 Laughing Boy by Oliver Lafarge
1929 Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin
1928 The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
1927 Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield
1926 Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis
1925 So Big by Edna Ferber
1924 The Able Mclaughlins by Margaret Wilson
1923 One of Ours by Willa Silbert Cather
1922 Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington
1920 No award was given.
1919 The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
1918 His Family by Ernest Poole

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According to the latest post on the "Green Living" forum at Blogiversity, those little "PLU" stickers you see on your fruits and vegetables at the grocery store aren't just there to help the cashier identify them. They also store valuable information about the methods used to grow the item. Here's the breakdown: Four digits indicate a conventionally grown item (uses chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides). Five digits beginning with "9" indicates organically grown (grown without chemicals). Begins with "8" indicates an item is genetically modified and not organic. For more on why you might consider going organic, go check out the forum post!

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This coming Sunday is Mother's Day. My mom lives something like 3000 miles away, so I won't be spending any face time with her, but I'll definitely have some phone time with her on Sunday. And before that (hopefully tonight) I'll be creating a mom-worthy card. I'm thinking it'll be a floral collage, but I may go with a pen and ink drawing. Of course, the card will be accompanied by a letter. For my last living grandma I'll do the same. This is one of the send-a-card holidays that I really like sending cards for, maybe in part because the card-sending duties are limited or maybe because it has greater personal significance for me. Whatever the reason, even with cards sent out, I know on Sunday I'll be feeling nostalgic for the years my brothers and I lived with our mom and "surprised" her with crepe breakfasts.

What are you doing to celebrate?

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From time to time I check in at the No Impact Man blog to see what's new. Something new-to-me on my latest visit is his April 21st post on recent work by journalist Michael Pollan (whom I've blogged about before).The post has a solid exposition of Pollan's thoughts on the current environmental crisis and is filled with lots of good details, and then continues on to explain where No Impact Man disagrees with Pollan's bottom line (roughly, that the environmental crisis is really a crisis of character!). As No Impact man moves in to the critique portion, he has a paragraph that starts

"No one I know wants to throw a plastic cup away every time they drink a coffee. Or to toss a plastic bag. Or to feel like their living comfortably will cost the earth."

He goes on with his hypothesis that inaction is more of a paralysis caused by lack of knowledge of how to change. Which sounds nice. But apparently No Impact Man has yet to meet my cashier at Publix last night.

While I was waiting in line the cashier and the customer ahead of me were talking about bagging options and the cashier said she heard people want to make plastic bags illegal and get rid of them unless you pay for them. The customer she was talking to gave her a disinterested look, but I said, "Oh, you know, they did that in Ireland around 2003!" Then the cashier told me that's ridiculous because how would she know how many bags it would take and how much to charge the customer?! I said something like, "Yeah..." and then added that I heard that in Ireland* people did adjust after a couple months and started bringing their own bags without too much fuss. To which the cashier explained that people who shop at Publix are soo-oo-oo stubborn that they freak out when the look of the labels on the deli items change. I agreed that people get ten to get stuck in their ways, and then said something vague like "Well... at least the people who do choose to bring their own bags are doing something to keep all those bags out of the landfills, eh?..." By then I was all checked out and with my groceries bagged up in my reuseable bag so we said goodnight and parted ways.

All in all it was a pleasant exchange, and from the loose transcription here you might not know it, but the truth is that my cashier expressed her complete lack of interest and/or awareness of the purpose behind trying to move away from throw-away plastics. What I mean is, it wasn't a "I don't know how to make this change" or "This change is hard or inconvenient" issue. It was more like a "What problem with plastic?" kind of issue.

I didn't really do much to "inform" her either, but, I mean, come on Publix! You sell reusble bags for a buck and give out free decals promoting them--couldn't you at least educate your cashiers on how to up-sell them?! Maybe they would feel like No Impact Man--that they don't like giving out bags that are just going to be thrown away. And unlike the people No Impact Man knows who don't want to cause harm but don't know how not to, maybe they'd even feel empowered!

 

About Ireland: My bff lived there as a nanny when the change was happening. She said some of the key points to the success of weaning shoppers off plastic bags was the prevalence of quality and inexpensive reusable options available at every checkstand, and the fact that the selling price for a plastic bag was relatively high in comparison. Something like, pay a quarter for a disposable plastic bag or a dollar for sturdy reusable bag (in euros, though!). And, if I had more time right now, I would research the results that law had and post them, because I remember reading about them after then law had been in place for some time, and the reduction of plastic in landfills was truly impressive!


 

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