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With the announcement of the winner of the Pulitzer Prize rapidly approaching, the Toonari Post has begun speculating who will come home with the prize. Another website has put up their own list of predictions, and Toonari Post is reviewing seven of them to judge their likelihood of winning.
Two short story collections seem to have a good chance at getting the prize: The Angel Esmeralda by Don DeLillo and Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman.
Don DeLillo, more than any other author on the list, has received critical recognition. Literary Critic Harold Bloom said,” he is one of four current American authors to have touched the sublime” (the others being Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, and Thomas Pynchon.) Despite this, he still has not won a Pulitzer prize for his work.
The Angel Esmeralda consists of nine stories written from 1979 to 2011. Though some are much better than others, all are memorable thanks to DeLillo’s masterful prose. The settings stretch across the world, from New York to a high security prison in the Canary Islands, from Greece to outer space; however; there is one unifying theme throughout all of them: communication. It may take different forms in all of the stories, but an examination of how people pass thoughts and ideas from one another is always present.
Some of the earlier stories come off as a bit weak as the later ones seem like they were meant for critical analysis rather than pleasure reading, but the middle ones are amazing. The title story is almost unreal, and it is worth picking up the book based on that alone.
DeLillo is incredible with prose, and it shows.
“The old nun rose at dawn, feeling pain in every joint. She’d been rising at dawn since her days as a postulant, kneeling on hardwood floors to pray. First she raised the shade. That’s the world out there, little green apples and infectious disease.”
DeLillo has had a shot at the Pulitzer before with other nominated novels and this time around he has potential to add to his awards collection.
In contrast, Edith Pearlman is a small, lesser-known novelist, writing only short stories that have only made a small splash—until now. Binocular Vision won the National Book Critics Circle award last March and is currently ranked #1 on PPrize.com as ‘most likely to win’ the award. The book is split into two parts: the first consisting of selected stories previously published and the second being made up of new narratives. Pearlman’s prose at times reads bizarrely, but from the beginning onward is very effective:
“The town square was a bare knoll. A church faced the square. Its stucco walls seemed to be unraveling. The one-storied inn sagged towards its own courtyard. Robert was shown to a rear bedroom. From his window he could see oxen.”
Some of the stories are weak and forgettable, while others are strong. Though the book is excellent and is definitely in the running for the Pulitzer, it suffers from two problems. First, Pearlman has the uncanny ability to make even the most fantastic location seem banal, rendering what should be exciting stories into dull excursions.
Second, often the stories only come together and are worthwhile in the end, which at times works, but other times makes you wonder why you are even reading the story, and if the ending is messy or poor, the whole story comes off as unsatisfactory. While not all too many stories fall into this last category, enough do that the book at times seems disappointing.
Though the book itself is worth reading and definitely deserves the accolades it has already received, it does not exactly come across as Pulitzer material.
Stay tuned for the last installment of Pulitzer Prize speculation, as the Toonari Post takes a look at some of the novels nominated for the award.