Reading and the Pulitzer Prize

It was enough when Werner was a boy, wasn’t it? A world of wildflowers blooming up through the shapes of rusty cast-off parts. A world of berries and carrot peels and Frau Elena’s fairy tales. Of the sharp smell of tar, and trains passing, and bees humming in the window boxes. String and spit and wire and a voice on the radio offering a loom on which to spin his dreams.” — Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See.

Over the years, I’ve read books that lost the Pulitzer Prize (asterisked ones were assigned reading, but still good). How many of these have you read?

  • William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury*
  • Joseph Heller’s Catch-22
  • JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye*
  • Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street

I’ve also read quite a few prize winners: Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Tales of the South Pacific by Michener, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington. Most recently, I read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr — interesting, nuanced, and sort of left hanging, so the book finishes days later in your brain as you resolve the different parts. A tone of wonder and different ways of looking at things (or feeling things) got me past the WWII setting. But it’s a book that demands time (95 pages in, and I finally found my stride).

Now I’m back reading Willa Cather’s One of Ours, (I have a huge case of “Catheritis”)… and enjoying the completely different, tone of smalltown America. Small details like: farmers in Nebraska, during the outbreak of what would be WWI, struggling to understand what Luxembourg was, and heading to the attic for the unused Atlas. The first who volunteered before the draft, and walked into something bigger than them, that changed how the USA thought about itself. So, once I’m done this one, do you think I should start on the ones that lost (because the writing of these is normally quite good as well)?

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