hippo quiz time

What do Susan Larson (former book editor The Times-Picayune, host of “The Reading Life”), Maureen Corrigan (Georgetown University, book critic, “Fresh Air,” NPR) and Michael Cunningham  (novelist) have in common?

This now notorious trio of gifted and seasoned readers/writers chose not to award a 2012 Pulitzer prize in the fiction category. I was aghast. And befuddled.

(To be fair, though it’s hard to believe, it has happened before.  See the list at end of this post.)

So. The Final Three. Let’s review.

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson is a novella about a day laborer in the old American West, bearing witness to terrors and glories with compassionate heartbreaking calm.
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell is an adventure tale about an eccentric family adrift in its failing alligator-wrestling theme park, told by a 13-year-old heroine wise beyond her years.

The Pale King by the late David Foster Wallace is a posthumously completed novel that explores boredom and bureaucracy in the American workplace.


2012 ~ The Year With No Pulitzer

Phew! 2013 ~ The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson.

The next award will be announced on April 14, 2014.

So many miracles happen every year.

Which one will you be rooting for?


Meet you here next Sunday.

Toni 11/24/13

Day 24


Year Author Title
2013 Adam Johnson Orphan Master’s Son, The
2012 No Award No Award
2011 Jennifer Egan Visit From The Goon Squad, A
2010 Paul Harding Tinkers
2009 Elizabeth Strout Olive Kitteridge
2008 Junot Diaz Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, The
2007 Cormac McCarthy Road, The
2006 Geraldine Brooks March
2005 Marilynne Robinson Gilled
2004 Edward P. Jones Known World, The
2003 Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex
2002 Richard Russo Empire Falls
2001 Michael Chabon Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier and Clay, The
2000 Jhumpa Lahiri Interpreter Of Maladies
1999 Michael Cunningham Hours, The
1998 Philip Roth American Pastoral
1997 Steven Millhauser Martin Dressler
1996 Richard Ford Independence Day
1995 Carol Shields Stone Diaries, The
1994 E. Annie Proulx Shipping News, The
1993 Robert Olen Butler Good Scent From A Stange Mountain, A
1992 Jane Smiley Thousand Acres, A
1991 John Updike Rabbit At Rest
1990 Oscar Hijuelos Mambo Kings Play Songs Of Love, The
1989 Anne Tyler Breathing Lessons
1988 Toni Morrison Beloved
1987 Peter Taylor Summons To Memphis, A
1986 Larry McMurtry Lonesome Dove
1985 Alison Lurie Foreign Affairs
1984 William Kennedy Ironweed
1983 Alice Walker Color Purple, The
1982 John Updike Rabbit Is Rich
1981 John Kennedy Toole Confederacy Of Dunces, A
1980 Norman Mailer Executioner’s Song, The
1979 John Cheever Stories Of John Cheever, The
1978 James Alan McPherson Elbow Room
1977 No Award
1976 Saul Bellow Humboldt’s Gift
1975 Michael Shaara Killer Angels, The
1974 No Award
1973 Eudora Welty Optimist’s Daughter, The
1972 Wallace Stegner Angle Of Repose
1971 No Award
1970 Jean Stafford Collected Stories
1969 N. Scott Momaday House Made Of Dawn
1968 William Styron Confessions Of Nat Turner, The
1967 Bernard Malamud Fixer, The
1966 Katharine Anne Porter Collected Stories
1965 Shirley Anne Grau Keepers Of The House, The
1964 No Award
1963 William Faulkner Reivers, The
1962 Edwin O’Connor Edge Of Sadness, The
1961 Harper Lee To Kill A Mockingbird
1960 Allen Drury Advise And Consent
1959 Robert Lewis Taylor Travels Of Jamie McPheeters, The
1958 James Agee Death In The Family, A
1957 Kenneth Roberts (Honorary Award)
1956 MacKinlay Kantor Andersonville
1955 William Faulkner Fable, A
1954 No Award
1953 Ernest Hemingway Old Man And The Sea, The
1952 Herman B. Wouk Caine Mutiny, The
1951 Conrad Richter Town, The
1950 A. B. Guthrie, Jr. Way West, The
1949 James Gould Cozzens Guard Of Honor
1948 James A. Michener Tales Of The South Pacific
1947 Robert Penn Warren All The King’s Men
1946 No Award
1945 John Hersey Bell For Adano, A
1944 Martin Flavin Journey In The Dark
1943 Upton Sinclair Dragon’s Teeth
1942 Ellen Glasgow In This Our Life
1941 No Award
1940 John Steinbeck Grapes Of Wrath, The
1939 Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Yearling, The
1938 John P. Marquand Late George Apley, The
1937 Margaret Mitchell Gone With The Wind
1936 Harold L. Davis Honey In The Horn
1935 Josephine W. Johnson Now In November
1934 Caroline Miller Lamb In His Bosom
1933 T. S. Stribling Store, The
1932 Pearl S. Buck Good Earth, The
1931 Margaret Ayer Barnes Years Of Grace
1930 Oliver LaFarge Laughing Boy
1929 Julia M. Peterkin Scarlet Sister Mary
1928 Thornton Wilder Bridge of San Luis Rey, The
1927 Louis Bromfield Early Autumn
1926 Sinclair Lewis Arrowsmith
1925 Edna Ferber So Big
1924 Margaret Wilson Able McLaughlins, The
1923 Willa Cather One of Ours
1922 Booth Tarkington Alice Adams
1921 Edith Wharton Age of Innocence, The
1920 No Award
1919 Booth Tarkington Magnificent Ambersons, The
1918 Ernest Poole

His Family


So, who gets the most ink? 

Initial print runs of Fall 2013 tell the tale.


No Meager Amount

Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam 

150, 000 copies

The third installment in the Canadian author’s speculative fiction trilogy (“Oryx and Crake,” “The Year of the Flood”). 


Pretty Big

James Patterson’s Cross My Heart


Alex Cross becomes the obsession of a genius of menace set on proving that he is the greatest mind in the history of crime.



Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath

1 million

Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages.


Mad Huge

Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep

1.1 million

Dan Torrance, the child protagonist/hero of “The Shining,” has grown up, still has paranormal powers and is still doing battle with the dark side.



File:Sycamore Row - cover art of hardcover book by John Grisham.jpg

John Grishham’s Sycamore Row

1.5 million

A return to that famous courthouse in Clanton as Jake Brigance once again finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial.

Bestselling authors get plenty of ink.  So do authors who favor the longer form ~ novels well over 500 pages.

I love big books.

(l), books, harry potter, light


I’m reading this now.


I’m planning on reading this next.


What are some tomes you’ve enjoyed over the years?

What pachydermous pile of ink is on your nightstand?


Meet you here next Sunday.

Toni 11/10/13

Day 10



Yesterday was Daylight Savings which meant I had an extra hour to read  Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford.


If you were a fan of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, you’ll like Songs of Willow Frost.

Ford, the grandson of a blackjack dealer and coat check girl, laces his novel with details about Chinese-American life in Seattle in the 1920s and 1930s.  He also gives you a look at the booming movie industry and the emotional cost of racism for entertainers during that time.

The mother-son saga describes the harsh circumstances that caused many parents to give up their children during the Great Depression.


Abandoned and homeless, children were placed in orphanages, many grim and Dickensian. In Ford’s ‘fictionalized’ Sacred Heart Orphanage, the children eat buggy oatmeal, are locked overnight in closets for bad behavior, and are allowed to ask about their families only on their birthday. (For the convenience of the staff, all the boys have the same birthday by decree, all the girls another one.) The orphanage is run by Sister Briganti, a tough, ruler-wielding nun who curses fluently in Italian and Latin and keeps a bottle of something stronger than communion wine in her desk drawer.

Did you know that author Wallace Stegner was left behind by destitute parents who promised to return? at the Sacred Heart Orphanage in Seattle?

Children who lose their parents are familiar characters in literature.  In some ways, their stories are common to us all.  As they grow up, they have to forge their own identities and find love and purpose in their lives.  But their circumstances are especially difficult ~ they must rely on themselves more than the average child. Their adventures are more dramatic, their triumphs more inspiring.

Literary Orphans I Have Known and Admired

Tobey Maguire as Homer Wells in Miramax's The Cider House Rules

Homer Wells in The Cider House Rules grows up in an orphanage run by an eccentric doctor.

Honest by nature, Oliver Twist falls into the hands of a criminal gang leader who tries to make him into a thief.

James Henry Trotter goes to live with two nasty selfish aunts after his parents are killed by a marauding rhinocerous.


The Ugly Duckling may be the most famous orphan of all. He’s adopted by a family of ducks who help him survive but resent him because he is different.

Lord Greystoke begins life deep in the jungle, born to young parents who perish before he is weaned. He is adopted by a kindly ape mother and lives with the animals for years.

Harry Potter, the most famous orphan in recent literature, is treated like dirt and made to sleep in the closet under the stairs.

when orphans overcome obstacles through their own efforts or with help from others,

it is out-of-this-universe inspiring. 

Who are some of your favorite literary orphans?


Meet you here next Sunday.

Toni 11/3/13

Day 3


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