Right now I’m sitting in a cloud of old-book smell. I checked “Critic’s Choice” out of the library today. (No ISBN. Library of Congress Catalogue Card #55-10113)
This book contains the full texts of all the New York Critic’s Circle Prize winners for the years 1935 through 1955. There were no prizes granted for the seasons of 1938-39, 1941-42, 1943-44, and 1945-46. The Great Depression and World War II dominated those years, so I’m sure there is some interesting story behind those absences.
I checked the book out for its possession of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. I am researching character for my own novel and I wanted to also study the dialog in this play (plays, for obvious reasons, are wonderful for examples of effective dialog).
Here are the plays and years that are in the book:
1935-36: Winterset by Maxwell Anderson
1936-37 High Tor by Maxwell Anderson
1937-38 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
1939-40 The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan
1940-41 Watch on the Rhine by Lillian Hellman
1942-43 The Patriots by Sidney Kingsley
1944-45 The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
1946-47 All My Sons by Arthur Miller
1947-48 A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
1948-49 Death of Salesman by Arthur Miller
1949-50 The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
1950-51 Darkness at Noon by Sidney Kingsley
1951-52 I Am a Camera by John van Druten
1952-53 Picnic by William Inge
1953-54 The Teahouse of the August Moon by John Patrick
1954-55 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
The book also contains a lengthy Introduction, titled “Twenty Years in the American Theatre” and an Appendix with the guilty parties, a.k.a. Roster of the New York Drama Critic’s Circle from 1954-55, Presidents of the Circle and the list of Pulitzer Prize plays from 1935-55. I won’t be reading through any of that because I’m not a historian or fan of the upper crust of NYC, and please don’t try to engage me in debate about any controversies that may have surrounded this seemingly incestuous prize awarding. I’m just here to pick up some tips from the dead white men who dominate the list. Next I’ll move on to some modern literature, because I feel quite disconnected from any authors in this book. Unfortunately or fortunately American literature classes are still dominated by these dusty classics, and I only know how/what to study the way I’ve been taught.
If you have any great modern examples (let’s say, after 1980) then I’d appreciate the suggestions greatly. Thanks.