Monday, January 30, 2006

And the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal goes to...

. . . oh, the hell with confidentiality.

Unfortunately, the lady is ineligible, having not published citable work in the last twenty-five years (this rule got Robert McCloskey in trouble, too). But think of what Harper Lee has done for children's literature in this country--and, ahem, pursuant to our last discussion, without even a notion of writing "for children." You see her imprint most clearly in the southern coming-of-age tales by the likes of Betsy Byars, Sue Ellen Bridgers, Katherine Paterson and Kimberly Willis Holt; but I think the seriousness and respect with which she explored a child's moral and creative imagination gave real freedom to all juvenile realistic fiction in the last half of the last century.

Lee can, I believe, win the Margaret Edwards award, although I think one of the (shameless) criteria is that the winner must agree to show up and give a speech, which Lee famously does not do.

16 comments:

Sara Z. said...

Have you ever read Sue Ellen Bridgers' All Together Now? I think it's a masterpiece, and I'm trying to figure out if I can get away with writing something with that many adult POVs...
The friendship between Casey & Dwayne in that book is something that could have happened with Scout & Boo, I think, in different circumstances.

Roger Sutton said...

I read All Together Now years ago. My reviewing career began with Bridgers--I was so incensed by a negative review of Notes for Another Life in SLJ that I wrote them a letter, and then book review eds Pam Pollack and Sally Holmes Holtze invited me aboard.

rindambyers said...

Perhaps Ms. Lee deserves, like Laura, an award named in her honor. For superb coming-of-age tales.

shewhousuallydoesn'tdothistypeofthing said...

Please please no more awards, rindambyers. Maybe these people have something more meaningful to show for their years i.e. their work.

Susan said...

I see the influence of To Kill a Mockingbird in Deborah Wiles's Each Little Bird That Sings, too, especially in the relationship between the two main kids, Comfort and Peach. It's a Southern coming-of-age tale like the others you mention.

Hollis said...

Hi Roger. Nice tie. So. Enough book talk, what's up with the quest for the MYSTical new computer?

Roger Sutton said...

17" Powerbook with as much ram as could be rammed. I make Richard keep the lights off so I can enjoy the way the keyboard lights up.

rindambyers said...

Ah, but awards make life a bit more interesting, don't you think? Perhaps an award where speeches do not have to be made is needed...

shewhousuallydoesn'tdothistypeofthing said...

Every morning I get up and I can't decide whether I want to save the world or savor it.
E.B.White

In the face of this great generosity of spirit I can see someone taking it into her head to give him an award and the shrill petty arguments about whether it should go to him or somebody else and who is the better writer and who has met this or that criteria and who beats out whom and the breathless phone call (yeah yeah I know, he's dead, let me finish) "Oh Mr. White, you beat out Harper Lee and blah blah blah. You won! You won!" Do we honor him this way or dishonor him?

Andy Laties said...

Charlotte's Web won the Newbery Honor Award. Did Horn Book print an accepance speech? Was he happy about the award?

Andy

shewhousuallydoesn'tdothistypeofthing said...

Try to look at the bigger picture, for once, Andy. And newbery honors don't have acceptance speeches.

Andy Laties said...

Well -- here's how Roger Angell remembers this:

Public gatherings—and most private ones, as well—made him jumpy. For years he had passed up family weddings and graduations, town meetings, dedications and book awards, cocktail bashes and boat gams and garden parties. As his literary reputation widened when he was in his forties and fifties, he did make it to a few select universities to receive honorary degrees, but despite prearranged infusions of sherry or Scotch he found the ceremonials excruciating. “So the old emptiness and dizziness and vapors seized hold of me,” he writes to my mother after his honoris causa Ph.D. appearance at Dartmouth in 1948. “Nobody who has never had my peculiar kind of disability can understand the sheer hell of such moments, but there they are.” And when the time came for the encomiums and the enrobing, there in the sunshine at Hanover, he went on, his hood—“white, quite big, and shaped like a loose-fitting horse collar”—became entangled with the honoree in the next seat, Ben Ames Williams: Andy’s worst dreams come true. “When I got seated the thing was up over my face, as in falconry,” he continues. “A fully masked Doctor of Letters, a headless poet.” After that, he stayed home, even passing up an invitation in 1963 to go to Washington and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Lyndon Johnson; the deed was consummated instead by a stand-in, Maine’s Senator Edmund Muskie, in the office of the president of Colby College. Andy also skipped his wife’s private burial in the Brooklin Cemetery, in July, 1977. None of us in the family expected otherwise or held this against him. And when his own memorial came, eight years later, I took the chance to remark, “If Andy White could be with us today he would not be with us today.”

Andy Laties said...

However, although clearly, SHE, you've got White pegged correctly, it's also true that the SUBJECT of "Charlotte's Web" is a character being celebrated by another character in such a way as to call general attention to his qualities. And Charlotte's efforts save Wilbur's life. That is: Charlotte publicizes Wilbur's virtues. Although the book is satiric of society's requirement that those virtues be highlighted in order that Wilbur be merely permitted to live, still, Charlotte does essentially enter Wilbur into that contest of virtues and it works. He wins his own life. It's horrible that this should be required. But we don't think less of Charlotte for ensuring that he get entered into this contest for survival, and for ensuring that he wins.

Andy Laties said...

I have sent four copies of my book and $260 to the IPPY awards people.
http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipaward.lasso

How vexing to have to engage in this sort of self-promotion. And yet I know so well that a silver sticker on my book will make it much more likely to prove credible to the casual browser in a bookstore, or book critic opening a huge stack of mail. My book attacks all the conventions of book distribution, and yet I must struggle to succeed in propagating my message in the very world I hope to help alter.

shewhousuallydoesn'tdothistypeofthing said...

Andy, I think you have completely missed my point because you're, as usual, so busy working on your rebuttal, you aren't really listening to what you're rebutting. Anyhow, I'm blogging permanently off this blog now. It's been fun but I think the book talkers are always more interested in their talk than the books and it's not the world I belong in. And good night to the old lady whispering hush.

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