Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Reading Fiction

From Ann Patchett's compelling piece about the disappointments of a year with no Pulitzer Prize for Fiction:

Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps.

I've posted lots of sentiments like this before, and this isn't necessarily the most original formulation of them—but I do agree with her (this is a big part of why I do what I do as an English teacher), and her essay as a whole is quite thoughtful and worth reading.

1 comment:

Steve Simmons said...

While I do agree with her sentiments of "gall" from "losing to no one" as a writer and the feeling of "indignation" as a reader, I take issue with her "rage" as a bookseller. The Pulitzer Prize as "sales tool" is not something with which I am comfortable. Better to award to no one and keep some integrity as a "Prize" than to do so in the hopes of ringing registers at brick and mortar independents. I'm all for enthusiasm for great writing but the sooner the book lovers realize that "books" do not mean "ink on dead trees" the better. And yes, the Academy Awards alleges to honor the "best of the year," unlike the Pulitzer which aims to showcase outstanding works.

Maybe books need another award. She has a good point. Book snobs will just have to deal with The Hunger Games types winning sometimes. :)