January 30, 2012


I picked up another book at the Dollar Store a while ago, though I didn’t crack it open until yesterday. I bought it because it carried a seal on the cover designating it as a 2006 “Notable Book” by the “New York Times.” I try not to be a snob in my book choices. Being an unknown writer, I like to support my peers who, like me, are struggling to find an audience. 

Still, I confess the designation encouraged me to part with my $1.00 — behavior which set me to wondering about prizes in general. I’d read another award winning book several months ago — this one with a gold seal from the Independent Press.  The book didn’t live up to its praise. The subject had potential — a travel memoir — but the author lacked a writer’s craft. The narrative jerked from place to place without transition. Expectations about events were posed but never brought to fruition and questions concerning a foreign culture were never answered. The memoir was the sort one might write for one’s children and grandchildren but was not of commercial value nor was it worthy of commendation. How it got an award might prove to be a more intriguing story than the one the book told.

Frankly, I’m not big on contests or the honors they bestow. Politics is often involved, so I’ve submitted my work only twice and for specific reasons. Fear of losing doesn’t deter me. Rather, I’d prefer to spend my time searching for an agent or a publisher than filling out contest forms and being obliged to pay for the privilege. Besides, the winners are paid from the entrance fees of the losers…a practice a bit too cannibalistic for me.   

(courtesy: photobucket.com

Nonetheless, I confess that awards do sometimes influence me, especially when it comes to movies. That makes me a hypocrite, it’s true. But I won’t quote Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” in my defense:

          “Do I contradict myself?

          Very well, then, I contradict myself,

          I am large – I contain multitudes..”

I don’t contain multitudes. I am simply human.