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Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: Mission to read all the winners.

My small parochial school did its best to educate me. My university put me through a class where I read a bunch of short stories all semester, but unleashed me on the Psychology department after that.

pulitzerchaboneugenidesIt turns out, that even though I’d like to be a regular novelist, I’m not very well read. I’ve worked on this in my adult life, so I have many, many books under my belt by now. But I have to say, many have been by foreign authors. The reason for this is because I went through curricula from better high schools and read the books on their syllabi. Many of the “classics” are British novels from the previous two centuries. Prejudice kept me from filling in the gaps with varied American writers, poverty kept me from being exposed to anything more than the Bronte ladies, Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I had a little daydream today, like all budding novelists do, of winning a Pulitzer one day. Wouldn’t that be grand? It is the American novelist’s pinnacle, a lottery of bounty and a trophy of respect. I’m probably being totally naive with that image. Still seems cool though.

I don’t allow myself to laze away in the haze of a dream. I realized quickly I truly know nothing about the Pulitzer. Zero. Zip. Nada.  I’m about as far away from winning a Pulitzer as a chihuahua is from being named prima ballerina at the Bolshoi. But I can learn what MAKES a Pulitzer. Not that there is a formula, but I’d like to experience what the Pulitzer committee thinks is worthy of this nation’s top literary prize.  I decided, a few minutes ago, that I should read every single book on that list.

Here is the list (via wikipedia):

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction has been awarded since 1948 for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. It replaced the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel.

I’ve read a handful of them, one or two I own but haven’t read yet, and some I’ve seen the movie.  For those that I’ve read, I should re-read because it has been years and I don’t remember them.  Going in order is impossible; I’ll be skipping around, beginning with the ones I own.  I’ll borrow the rest of the library.  Perhaps I’ll Netflix the movies that go with each story.

This project may take away from my enjoyment of cyberpunk (notice that these all are mainstream fiction) but I’ll just have to take even more time away from blogging and social media, I guess.  To be a good writer, one needs to be educated.  My literary education has been strained and almost non-existant, so I must continue, as I have done for the last 10 years, to read what I should have read as a youth.  I’m not about to get a degree in Literature, so this is my “DO IT YOURSELF” approach.  Yes, I know the nominees that didn’t win are worth a look, too, and some genres are totally ignored but this list is a good place to start.  I’ll keep you updated periodically and try to review when I can.

I remember being moved by The Color Purple, moved to the very core of my inner self.  I have a feeling that THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy is going to annoy me, from what I’ve read about it (how it isn’t his best work but the prize was more awarded for his life’s work, etc.) and its format, but I’ll give it a try.  I’m happy there are women on this list.  I look forward to reading with you.

Any of your favorites on this list? Maybe we can start a Pulitzer book club!  What do you think?

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