Four takes on the death of the book, from the National Book Awards insanity last night.
Boris Kachka, Vulture (Optimistic):
Hope and change, then, were in the air, desperate circumstances notwithstanding here on Wall Street and up in publishers’ offices. But would the award selections bear out this trend? Annette Gordon-Reed, for The Hemingses of Monticello, became the first African-American woman ever to win for nonfiction. Another barrier broken. Grove founder Barney Rossett, 86, finally got his due for taking on the book censors in the sixties, getting a lifetime-achievement-type award, and told the crowd Obama’s election allowed him to hold on to his American passport.
Mokoto Rich, Paper Cuts (Down But Defiant):
Joshua Ferris, who was nominated last year for his novel about office life, “Then We Came to the End,” said he thought the National Book Awards have been relevant for a long time, but he was happy to co-host the after-party if the Foundation thought it would help. “There is a certain hysteria of fear about all sorts of media,” he said. “So why shouldn’t books be part of that?”
He added: “I will be rocking. You can quote me on that.”
Thessaly La Force, Book Bench (Grim, Sensible):
Joan Didion, a latecomer, stands near the entrance. We’re in what used to be the New York Stock Exchange, I tell her, and we’re celebrating books. “I find that interesting too,” Didion says. “But I can’t go anywhere with that.” Are you worried about books? “Oh,” she says. “I’m more worried about Wall Street at the moment!”
JasonB, Galleycat (Totally, Insanely Neurotic; Sort of Gloating):