I tell my husband, “It’s like the Oscars of the book world!” I sit glued to my laptop, obsessively watching the clock so I don’t miss the online stream of the National Book Award ceremony. My daughter calls from school where she’s working painting the set for the school performance of Our Town this weekend. “Can you pick me up at 8:00?” Distractedly I say yes. I SAY YES! The effing award ceremony starts at 8! What did I do?!
Last night I met two of my Women’s National Book Association friends, we had a couple of cocktails and then went over to the New School and heard all the nominees read from their work. I forgot to look around at the other audience members, to see who was famous, to try to recognize those celebrities of publishing, the editors, rock star agents, and other authors. I forgot to look around because I was so happy to be with my bookly friends, laughing, yapping, trash talking. And ok, I’d had two cocktails and no dinner. I was too busy judging, assessing and being blown away by the readings to remember to people watch. I have to admit, I did roll my eyes a couple of times. I know I shouldn’t cop to that. I’m not going to tell you why or when, but I did. I know which books I’d pick to win in each category. There was poetry that rocked my soul. There was unexpectedly cool non-fiction. Some surprising children’s literature. And the fiction… let’s just say it was all pretty divine. How am I going to find time to read these books when I’m buried in manuscripts and queries?! I pick up my daughter and speed home to watch John Ashbery accept his Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. And now I tap my foot, waiting for the next part of the awards ceremony to begin, while the attendees eat their dinners and there’s nothing happening in front of the camera, it’s just streaming nothing while the attendees finish their salmon.
Did you watch the National Book Awards Ceremony? Do you watch the Oscars? Did you guess the correct winners in all four categories? Do you usually know which movie gets best picture? Do these awards influence whether you’ll read the book or watch the movie?