Ray Bradbury was at the White House yesterday, to receive a National Medal of Arts, along with numerous others, in a ceremony presided over by President Bush. There’s a link on the homepage to a Washington Post article, with a pic. Apparently this wasn’t announced in advance, and so today there was a flurry of emails between Locus HQ and the White House (yes the actual White House) to confirm details and receive an official photo, which should appear (just in time!) in the December issue of Locus. Given Bradbury’s outrage over Michael Moore’s appropriation of his “Fahrenheit” title for Moore’s anti-Bush documentary, one might speculate whether Bradbury is a supporter of Bush; but that is neither here nor there, considering the genuine achievement of a genre writer of more than 6 decades, a slave in the slums of literature, being recognized finally among the highest artists of the land. Bradbury said “This is the happiest day in my life”, and I can believe it, and respect it.
Saw “Sideways” last night, a superb comedy/drama about two middle-aged college friends on a tour of wineries in central California for a week before one of their’s wedding [is that grammatical?]. The wine nerd is obsessed with Pinots, disdainful of Merlots, and his obsession with wine and its inebriative consequences is seen as the reason for his failure in life (he’s divorced, with no prospects) and art (his novel doesn’t sell); yet, he is nobler and more sympathetic than his friend, who aggressively cheats on his bride-to-be and gets away with it. I like wine, red wine, well enough to have toured many of those same wineries, and visited the same towns (Buellton, Solvang) more than once, but not enough to understand the disdain for Merlot. In any case, a fine, non-Hollywood-formula film.
The Locus boffins have begun assembling their recommended reading lists for 2004, a process I do not read enough each year to participate in, though in past years I’ve tried to simulate the results of by compiling various published lists and reviews into some sort of consensus. My process for this varies from year to year. If you’re reading this and have any strong opinions about the best/most important books of 2004, please email me with as much commentary as you care to provide.
I saw the announcement of the winners of the National Book Awards last night, and today while perusing Barnes & Noble in my semi-weekly new books hunt I remembered the title of the fiction winner vaguely enough to recognize the book itself on the new books shelf, and so bought a copy. (It’s The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck. Also bought the new Jack Vance, and Spectrum 11.) I have this vague ambition to occasionally sample literary non-genre fare, by way of seeking out the winners of the 3 or 4 most prominent literary prizes each year; not that I usually fulfill this ambition. But since Tuck’s novel is actually pretty short — a mere 245 pages! — maybe I’ll get through this one. (Actually, as previously alluded, I will definitely get to the Man Booker Prize winner from this year — Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty. I would have anyway.)
I have turned back on comments, for the 2 or 3 of you who might occasionally reply. The spam threats seem to apply only to Movable Type blogs.