Thursday, March 08, 2007


I'll write at greater length about this over on the work blog, but I attended the National Book Critics Circle awards ceremony tonight. John Leonard was given a lifetime achievement award, and delivered a funny, generous, moving speech about the books that have given him something to write about all these years.

Richard Ford was in the room, as was Dave Eggers. I was kind of hoping Cormac McCarthy would be there, but I guess that's a little like hoping Salinger will show up. I could have attended a drinks party afterward for the not-entirely-unreasonable (in New York) price of $45, but I felt like the ceremony -- more entertaining than I had imagined it would be -- was enough. Besides, I had already met Ford a few years back in our offices, where I stopped him to say I was a big fan. He shook my hand, fixed me with eyes that are truly startling (these puppies aren't Photoshopped; he always looks like he's on the verge of turning into the Incredible Hulk, if the Hulk's alter ego was a stylistic chronicler of middle-age wisdom and disappointment), and asked, "What's your name?" That was a good moment.

Tonight, all the winners gave gracious, clever speeches, but my favorite was by the youthful Troy Jollimore (great name), who won the poetry award for his first book, Tom Thomson in Purgatory. He was self-effacing, very funny, and seemed quite the Everyman. I pictured him living with his wife in the attic of his parents' house, maybe writing a column for the local newspaper. Uh, not close. This is from his bio:
Professor Jollimore’s areas of research interest include meta-ethics, normative ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of literature and film. He has taught courses on all of these topics, as well as on epistemology, ancient philosophy, the history of modern philosophy, and biomedical ethics.
Right. Anyway, I told him afterwards that I liked his speech best. He seemed both genuinely appreciative and completely ready to label me nuts, a combination I like.


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