1. The news that an author named John Banville has won the Booker Prize left me cold, maybe because I’ve never come across this book (or any other Banville book) in my rounds of bookstore browsing. I was mystified by this until a note in the Literary Saloon cleared it up: this widely-acclaimed book isn’t even going to be available in the United States until Spring 2006.

Say what? I can go to the corner deli in Rego Park, Queens and pick up candy from Austria, organic honey from the Ukraine, oranges from Israel, vanilla beans from Madagascar and tofu from Staten Island … yet my friendly local Barnes and Noble can’t serve me up a book that was published in England? Am I going to have to wait for Words Without Borders to get around to a “Literature from the U.K.” issue? Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.

And no, I don’t want to order it from Amazon. I want to do what I do with this book what I do with most other books — sit down in a quiet corner of the fiction section and read a few pages before I decide if I want to buy it or not. Since I usually buy paperback books (I ain’t rich), I guess this means I’ll be getting my first shot at buying this book sometime around 2007.

2. Did I mention that I’m not rich? I’m a damn good Texas Hold’Em player, though, and I’m going to take advantage of a poker tournament for bloggers at I think their plan is to get publicity by tempting poker freaks like me to put up their link in exchange for free entry. It worked:


I have registered to play in the Online Poker Blogger Championship!

This event is powered by PokerStars.

Registration code:

Maybe I’ll win, and if I do I’m going to get that Banville book shipped over from faraway England. Either way, I think I’ll use the opportunity to remind you why I believe poker is a writer’s game. (Note: thanks to Large Vibrating Egg for spreading the news about this tournament).

3. Since I’m feeling lucky, do you think I should enter the LitKicks anthology Action Poetry for the Blooker Prize? This is a new award for the best book published from online content. I am quite sure Action Poetry fits that description, so I’m planning to enter it, and if we don’t win I’m going to be very mad.

4. Supposedly the Nobel Prize for Literature will be awarded tomorrow. I’m not rooting for anybody in particular, but I would like to see the Chicago White Sox win the World Series.

9 Responses

  1. By Numbers1. I heard the
    By Numbers

    1. I heard the Banville book only sold about 2,500 copies! If that’s the case, they should’ve nominated mine because I’ve only sold about 3.

    2. Poker and blogging make very interesting bedfellows. I think I’ll join in and try and beat you!

    3. Go for it! I’d love to see Action Poetry win, or maybe place, or at least get an honorable mention!

    4. My money’s on the Cardinals for the Nobel Series.

  2. ChiSoxI’d like to see

    I’d like to see that,too-Ozzie Guillen is one cool little guy. I think the Angels will take it though. I am embarrassed to admit that I know (a lot) more about MLB than who is in the running for the Nobel prize… but that’s honesty and the reality of things.

  3. It’s ONEnter Action Poetry,
    It’s ON

    Enter Action Poetry, enter the poker tourney, man, you got game!

  4. BanvilleI read The Book of

    I read The Book of Evidence a few years back after finding it in a bargain bin on the front porch of a used bookstore in Houston, Texas and must say that it was good. I was on an Irish kick at the time, and I believe an author I liked was quoted on the back verifying the book’s greatness. I think it won an award, or was shortlisted for one, as well. So today when I woke up this morning, I headed on down to the local library to try and find a copy of The Sea, fruitlessly. But I have no doubt that the man deserved the award.

    So in the process of looking for the winning Banville book, I looked at the rest of his books that they had. All sounded intriguing, which is more than I can say for Barnes, an author that I have always wanted to read but have never had even the slightest interest in any of his stories.

    In conclusion, let’s go Astros. And let’s go White Sox, because then I could go to a game. And lets go Action Poetry. And I have no idea who to go for in the Nobel running, and apparently will never know, as cited here:

    Touts like chances for Oates, Roth, Llosa. For literature, British-based Ladbrokes gave its shortest odds to Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said, known as Adonis; Korean poet Ko Un; American novelist Joyce Carol Oates; and Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer.

    Other perennials were American Philip Roth and Peruvian-born Mario Vargas Llosa. Europeans have won the literature prize in nine of the past 10 years, so the experts think the Swedish Academy may look outside Europe this year.

    Should any of them be runners-up, we won’t know until 2055. The rules keep the candidates’ lists secret for 50 years. To find out who were nominees from 50 or more years ago was a laborious bureaucratic process, but lately the Nobel Foundation has begun listing some at the Nobel Prize Web site.

    The peace nominations reveal some of the embarrassments the Nobel committee has managed to avoid: Adolf Hitler, nominated in 1939 by a Swedish legislator and withdrawn the same year; Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, nominated in 1945 by a Norwegian former foreign minister and in 1948 by a Czech professor; Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who got two nominations in 1935, by a French law professor and a German college law faculty.

  5. athenaI have read banville’s

    I have read banville’s “athena”, the third book of his “art trilogy” (the book of evidence, 1989, ghosts, 1993, and athena, 1995) several years back, and absolutely loved it.

    Reading it was like delving into a surreal twilight of suspense and foreboding, into a poetic world full of exceptional but exact and enlightened metaphor.

    The story is about identity and authenticity and a man’s (‘morrow’s’) inability to distinguish between real and false, between genuine and faked, neither in art nor in life – nothing and nobody in this story is what it seems to be and reality seems to blur more and more as the story continues.

    Athena alters between reviews of eight paintings by dutch-sounding painters depicting scenes from ovid’s metamorphoses (and once morrow’s been beckoned into a strange and gloomy empty dublin house, he has to prove the genuineness of these paintings) and a kind of letter which together compose the novel’s story. As the reader finds out later, the names of the painters of these eight paintings are all anagrams of john banville’s name

    There is sensuality and obsession, a mysterious woman called A, lies, faking, trompe-l’oeil, and reality withdraws just to incline towards morrow again in the mirror of art… until in the end he straightly walks into a tragicomic trap…

    To me, a very special book.

    “children of the dark
    we make diurnal night for ourselves
    in the bare back rooms of pubs
    in the gloom of public libraries
    and picture galleries
    in churches even

    in the mad dream of ourselves
    i can see myself there bleakly
    with a thin unfocused smile
    idle dreams

    and the rain
    drifting in the light
    of the doorway

    write to me
    she said

    write to me

    i have written”

    (cut-up of some passages of athena’s last few pages, that spontaneously emerged in an email conversation about the book with a friend several years back.)

  6. Cool, thanks Panta. Maybe
    Cool, thanks Panta. Maybe I’ll try that one. I also just saw in the news that the publication of “The Sea” has been pushed up to next month following the Booker award. But maybe I’ll go for “Athena” first anyway.

  7. as athena is the third volume
    as athena is the third volume of a trilogy, you should maybe read book of evidence and ghost beforehand.

    i haven’t read those; i grabbed athena at a bookstore before a long train ride because the book sounded like just the right thing for that very ride and for the state of mind i was in then – and it was.

    i’ve always meant to read the other two books as well, but as things go, i never got around to do it yet.

    but now that i’m reminded of it again, i might…

    the sea will be published in german in fall 2006.

  8. Harold Pinter wins Nobel
    Harold Pinter wins Nobel Prize

    From Ha’aretz, October 13/2005:
    British Playwright Harold Pinter

    British playwright Harold Pinter wins Nobel Prize in literature

    By The Associated Press

    STOCKHOLM, Sweden – British playwright and poet Harold Pinter, who juxtaposed the brutal and the banal in such plays as “The Room” and “The Birthday Party” and made an art form out of spare language and unbearable silence, won the 2005 Nobel Prize in literature Thursday.

    The Swedish Academy, in awarding the prize, said he was an author “who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms.”

    In London, Pinter told reporters he was overwhelmed.

    “I had absolutely no idea. I didn’t know until 11:45 this morning. I was speechless,” he said. “I have to stop being speechless when I get to Stockholm.”

    In its citation, the academy said the playwright – whose works also include “The Dumb Waiter” and his breakthrough work, “The Caretaker” – was a writer who returned theater to its bare-bones form.

    “Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue where people are at the mercy of each other and pretense crumbles,” the academy said.

    Pinter, who turned 75 on Monday, is the first Briton to win the literature award since V.S. Naipaul won in 2001, and is the 11th playwright to win since the prize was first handed out in 1901, the academy said.

    The son of a Jewish dressmaker, Pinter was born in London. Pinter has said his encounters with anti-Semitism in his youth influenced him in becoming a dramatist.

    Dubbed the most influential British playwright of his generation, in recent years he has turned his acerbic eye toward the United States and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In 1999, he spoke out against the NATO bombing of Serbia.

    He has been an outspoken critic of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and vehemently opposed Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war. In March 2005 Pinter announced his retirement as a playwright to concentrate on politics. But he created a radio play, “Voices,” that was broadcast on BBC radio to mark his 75th birthday.

    “My energies are going in different directions, certainly into poetry,” he said in an interview with the BBC this year. “But also, as I think you know, over the last few years I’ve made a number of political speeches at various locations and ceremonies.”

    “I’m using a lot of energy more specifically about political states of affairs, which I think are very, very worrying as things stand.”

    In 2003, Pinter published a volume of anti-war poetry about the Iraq conflict, and in 2004 he joined a group of celebrity campaigners calling for Blair to be impeached.

    Most prolific between 1957 and 1965, Pinter relished the juxtaposition of brutality and the banal and turned the conversational pause into an emotional minefield.

    Dark and peopled with unfortunates, Pinter’s idiom was so distinctive that he got his own adjective: “Pinteresque.”

    Usually enclosed in one room, they organize their lives as a sort of grim game and their actions often contradict their words. Gradually, the layers are peeled back to reveal the characters’ nakedness.

    “There is a lurking fear in them that manifests itself gradually as the plot rolls on,” Engdahl said. “But at the same time it really is a comedy, in that he writes for an audience that will be entertained. He really knows how to capture a theater audience.”

    “Within theater, he is one of the two or three most important writers during the second half of the 20th century,” he said. “He has had an immeasurable influence on the dramatic form.”

    Pinter has also written for the cinema, penning screenplays for “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” “The Accident,” “The Servant” and “The Go-Between.”

    Engdahl said he did not expect controversy over the choice of Pinter. “I think he is unassailable from a literary point of view,” Engdahl said, referring to Pinter’s body of work. “On the other hand, there may be some people who think he’s too established.”

    The academy, founded in 1786 by King Gustav III to advance the Swedish language and its literature, has handed out the literature prize since 1901.


    Pinter made going to the theatre an exclusive experience. He always required maximum cerebral input and a total lack of pretense. He was also big in Toronto and was featured drama for elementary school audiences as well as university classes in Theatre of the Absurd.

    He’s an icon in my mind. What do you all think?

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