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Calvin Trillin, author of Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff, has been named the winner of the 2012 Thurber Prize for American Humor. He won $5,000 in prize money and a crystal plaque.
The announcement was revealed last night at a ceremony held in New York City. This year’s judging panel consisted of former New York Times reporter Ralph Blumenthal, novelist Jennifer Crusie and fiction writer Luanne Rice.
This prize, awarded annually, was established to honor the legacy of humor writer/cartoonist James Thurber. Here’s more from the release: “Trillin, age 76, who became The Nation’s ‘deadline poet’ in 1990, has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1963. He is the author of 20 books including the bestselling About Alice and Obliviously on He Sails. His new book, Dogfight: An Occasionally Interrupted Narrative Poem About the Presidential Campaign, will be published in December.” (Photo Credit: Leslie Miller)
Every week, I spelunk into the Writer’s Digest archives to find the wisest, funniest, or downright strangest moments from our 92 years of publication.
Harper Lee’s birthday is tomorrow, so today I went on a hunt to find some Harper Lee quotes somewhere in our archives. I didn’t exactly troll up an entire interview (no surprise there, given her lack of media appearances since To Kill a Mockingbird was published*), but I did stumble on this gold mine from 1961.
For a cover story interviewing Lee and a slew of other writers—John Steinbeck, Rod Serling, Carl Sandburg, James Thurber—we posed the question, “What advice would you offer a person who aspires to a writing career?” and asked for a single response.
Here’s their writing advice. I’m in the process of geeking out and printing Sandburg’s right now so I can place it above my desk.
As for our swag drawing, thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts on Janet Evanovich and outlining last week. We dipped a hand into the random WD swag hat, and a name emerged: Sharon Vander Meer. Sharon, can you email email@example.com, ATTN: Zachary Petit, and I’ll send you a list of free books to choose from?
*Here’s to hoping it wasn’t because we cited Lee as the author of To Kill a Hummingbird. Oy. Some 50 years later, WD still regrets (and still heavily cringes at) the error. Sorry, Harper!
Erskine Caldwell, Carl Sandburg, William Inge, Robert Fuoss
Erle Stanley Gardner, Herb Mayes, Paul Engle, Richard Gehman, Francois Sagan
Thomas B. Costain, Harper Lee, John Steinbeck, Rod Serling
Stirling Silliphant, Allen Drury, Paul Scott Mowrer, James Thurber
A birthday cake, guests and of course entertainment that had the room laughing the night away, these were the highlights of James Thurber’s 117th birthday celebrated during the annual Gala on December 8 at The Westin Columbus. The featured speaker of the evening was funny man and 2010 Thurber Prize for American Humor, Steve Hely, who wrote the hilarious novel How I Became a Famous Novelist and scripts for shows like The Office and The David Letterman Show. The event was hugely successful and a wonderful evening of reflecting on Thurber’s life and work.
In case you missed it, here are some photos to recap the evening’s events:
Guests mix and mingle before the Gala begins.
Attendees enjoy a fantastic dinner served by The Westin Columbus.
Hely shares a funny Thurber story from his childhood.
Hely and our host, Dr. Wayne P. Lawson, draw the winning raffle tickets.
Hely meets with guests after the event. Thanks for coming to Columbus, Steve!
Must . . . steal . . . this . . . idea . . . . NOW! David Maybury, for those of us on this side of the pond, dubs himself a “Children’s Book Commentator” and has a swell blog worth discovering. New life goal: To become him.
Achockablog, words do not suffice to thank you for letting me know about that video.
So it’s a low-key Video Sunday today. After speaking at The Carle Museum of Picture Book Art on Thursday with Anita Silvey and Lisa Holton (it went swimmingly!) driving back Friday for a Norton Juster dinner (at this point I’m just bragging), and hosting Nora Raleigh Baskin, Suzanne Morgan Williams, Sara Lewis Holmes, and Rosanne Parry in my library for a Children’s Literary Salon on children’s literature and military brats, my blogging searches for vids this week came in a passable second. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a couple goodies! Like this “interview” with Peter Brown by one of his creations.
What kills me is that I know that voice of Lucy. I know that person. Who IS that person???
Of course, the only reason I knew about that was because Mr. Schu’s Watch. Read. Connect. linked to both that and this Etsy blog video series (Etsy blog???) with Mr. Brown. In it, Peter creates a playlist of videos in honor of Picture Book Month. The Where the Wild Things Are opera is a brilliant place to start and it only gets better from there. Consider this all the videos you ever need to see for the day.
And thanks to Mr. Schu for the links!
A delight in its own way is this animated video of Neil Gaiman reading James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks. Just a pleasure, really.
This year’s panel of judges included two-time Thurber Prize winner Ian Frazier, 2010 Thurber Prize finalist Jancee Dunn and novelist Meg Wolitzer. The winner will be revealed at the awards ceremony on October 3rd in New York City’s Algonquin Hotel.
Here’s more from the release: “The 2011 Thurber Prize for American Humor will be conferred upon the author and publisher of the outstanding book of humor writing published in the United States between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010. Initiated in 1996, thirty-five years after the death of this key figure in the development of American humor, it is the nation’s highest recognition of the art of humor writing.”
It may not be a terribly cheery subject but the inescapable reality of death has given rise to much of literature’s most profound and moving work. We are currently relaunching some of the titles in the Oxford Book of… series, and today I thought I would share an excerpt from the absolutely wonderful Oxford Book of Death. Below are some ‘last words’ from figures throughout history.
ARCHIMEDES (212 BC): (on being ordered by a Roman soldier to follow him) ‘Wait till I have finished my problem.’
BOILEAU (1711): ‘It is a great consolation to a poet on the point of death that he has never written a line injurious to good morals.’
RAMEAU (1764): (to his confessor) ‘What the devil are you trying to sing, monsieur le cure? Your voice is out of tune.’
VOLTAIRE (1778): (as the bedside lamp flared up) ‘What? The flames already?’
ADAM SMITH (1790): ‘I believe we must adjourn this meeting to another place.’
PALMERSTON (1865): ‘Die, my dear Doctor? – That is the last thing I shall do!’
DISRAELI (1881): (Queen Victoria having proposed to visit him) ‘Why should I see her? She will only want me to give a message to Albert.’
GIDE (1951): ‘I am afraid my sentences are becoming grammatically incorrect.’
RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (in conversation some two weeks before his death in 1958, recorded by Sylvia Townsend Warner in a letter): ‘If I were reincarnated, I added, I think I would like to be a landscape painter. What about you? Music, he said, music. But in the next world I shan’t be doing music, with all the striving and disappointments. I shall be being it.’
Eighty years ago on this date, The New Yorker published this piece, still a classic (and longtime Farm School favorite), by James Thurber.
A Visit from Saint Nicholas (In the Ernest Hemingway Manner)
by James Thurber
It was the night before Christmas. The house was very quiet. No creatures were stirring in the house. There weren't even any mice stirring. The