… and I resurface after a month of skiving with stranded family and trying to catch up on ‘life.’ I apologize for my absence. I didn’t completely abdicate from the literary world but my memory being what it is I’m darned if I know what I’ve been up to; with the exception of attending the Pen Faulkner Award ceremony in Washington DC this past weekend. A much classier affair than I’d anticipated, I was the only woman in the room wearing jeans (note to self: make an effort next year, Slops), but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for all those glamorous gals in strappy cocktails dresses and heels as it was flippin’ freezing in the theatre. I scarpered after the readings, missing the posh nosh and the book signings, feeling a little too single and conspicuous amongst politicos and literati.
Each nominee gave a short reading: Barbara Kingsolver’s selection (from The Lacuna) was articulate and weighty, Lorrie Moore’s (The Gate at the Stairs) was lyrical and coy (but somehow forget-able, I’m struggling to remember it), Loraine Lopez’s (Homicide Survivor’s Picnic and Other Stories) was entertaining but slight (she still seemed a little shell-shocked to have been nominated), and Colson Whitehead’s (Sage Harbor) was a skit on the fine qualities associated with ready-made frozen dinners, which probably comes off as funnier on the page. The final reading, fittingly, was the best, given by the Pen Faulkner winner Sherman Alexie (War Dances), who seemed genuinely moved, taking time to thank the judges on behalf of the Spokane tribe, noting that no Native American has won such a prestigious award since N. Scott Momaday received the Pulitzer Prize in 1969. Alexie’s performance of “Invisible Dog on a Leash” (calling it a reading doesn’t cover it), proved his work has both humor and depth. He struck me as a modest and genuinely charming man.