Shopping cart is empty.

Birchbark Blog

National Book Awards

Louise Erdrich - Friday, November 16, 2012

New York City post Sandy.  Disheveled streets but lots of movement.  The beautiful and fabled Cipriani!  And seriously, a red carpet.  With photographers.  All the other fiction finalists are better looking than me, and they are guys.  Third nomination for the National Book Award -- and I know exactly what to do when my book doesn't win.  I will turn to my editor, shrug. Then we say in unison, "we wuz robbed."  But this time after a few days of downing Tums and with erratic sleep, I hear the title of my own book called and my head drops on the table -- good thing the plate was gone.  I remember galloping up to hug Lorrie Moore (chair of the fiction judges).  Once I start hugging her I don't want to let go, as then I will have to say something.  I am not good at preparing speeches -- my words always get away from me.  All I remembered was that I would try and start the speech in Ojibwemowin because if I did that I was fairly sure I'd get some magnanimous spirit to help me with the rest of it.  Besides, I had promised my daughter Persia that I would use the Ojibwe language as often as possible -- she is working so hard to become an Ojibwe immersion school teacher.

Back to those good looking guys, the other finalists. Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King, Junot Diaz, This is How You Lose Her, Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Half-time Walk, and Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds.  I read each book and each time I finished reading I thought "this is the one, this one is better."  They are all books that should have won this prize.  But I was in a magic realm of chivalry.  First, Junot Diaz approached me before the whole shebang and said that he wanted me to win this -- he was utterly charming and completely in earnest.  Besides, he loves one of my favorite writers, Michael Martone. I have already met the only person who really belongs on the red carpet -- carelessly gorgeous terrific writer and editor of The Believer, Vendela Vida, married to Dave Eggers.  When I met her I didn't realize that she was married to him, I was trying not to stare at her profile.  She mentioned that Dave was taking care of the kids while she was out working -- hey, I found out, that Dave, taking care of the kids.  Once I knew, had to like him.  As it turns out, he, too, is okay with being in good company and looks like he just wants to go home. Likewise, the other painfully handsome dudes -- Kevin Powers and Ben Fountain.  They make a point of saying they are glad for me, removing awkwardness.  Ben's sweetly handsome son (why are they all so nice looking?) finds me to shake hands.  In fact, it feels like nobody actually won this thing and I go home with a 5 lb piece of bronze feeling just the same as when a finalist. 

But once home, it starts -- as I get out of the airport cab and drag my little bag up to the house my agile wide-eyed fourth grade niece throws herself along the sidewalk, a blaze of red hoodie and brown hair.  She collides with me, up in my arms, a hug.  Then she yells at me, you won, you won, and we got ice cream!  Hey, both of their parents are pediatricians.  Ice cream is big.  Ice cream all around and a 10 lb piece of bronze in my carry on.  Guess it did happen.  More -- stay tuned. 

Canoe Family

Recent PostsRSS


Peak Oil book and dinner club devoted customers Wastepaper Anishinabemowin Minneapolis The Royal Prussian Library japan Population joy Michael Jackson the most romantic city in the world pilgrims Afghanistan Kabul fresh water Ojibwemowin boarding school State Troopers city of books Botany thank you friends Tar Sands Education Aubrey/Maturin Roberto Bolano S.C. Gwynne Dogs Let's Take the Long Way Home Aza sweden Too Much Happiness anniversary Empire of the Summer Moon support how good looking you are favorite tree favorite dog William Trevor Unnatural Disasters Crushing Books The Porcupine Year The Resilient Gardener Louise Women and Trees Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge post holiday Collective Denial leaves and snow Vic Glover This Green World Kenwood Gardens tree books solstice, Thomas King monkey in a dryer More Remarkable Trees Milkweed Press Canada thanks Alan Weisman show your love gardens knowledge plants NACDI:All My Relations Beth Dooley Gail Caldwell Kate DiCamillo E.L. Doctorow Tree Houses graphix ireland Chickadee Climate Change Poetry Wolf Hall Chitra Divakaruni Too Loud A Solitude germany Small Bookstores as Commons Love incarnation Ojibwe The Birchbark House Keepers of the Trees Hillary Clinton 2666 Nemesis Philip Roth adventure green The Transition Handbook Ice Native People Native Arts bill mckibben Our Knowledge Is Not Primitive gratitude italy coyote cafe cafe closing photography aquifer health care reform trees Anishinabe Green Team Fireworks post holiday reads ependent Gary Clement Interview birchbark house series Zombies friends Rare Books Book Review Patrick O'Brian Video Bleak House British Navy Magers and Quinn local economy Pembina Alice Munro Czech Writer Dartmouth Minnesota Bill Moyers Journal Emily Johnson World on the Edge Stephen Salisbury twins Bohumil Hrabal north dakota mississippi peculiar touches of green and gold buffalo School Gardens language revitalization Anton Treuer Gryphon Press Greenland Catalyst france Light in August Nero Jim Harrison Peak Water Hilary Mantel Birchbark Books The Farmer's Daughter ptsd Mohamed's Ghosts Victory Gardens favorite book Remarkable Trees customers The Ojibwe Ha Jin The Game of Silence Mankato Powwow Keystone XL The Wealth of Nature Up Late Again neighborhood The Blue Sky Makoons Easter Island euphoria H2Oil china President Obama spring National Book Award Islam Brown Dog Wendy Makoons Geniusz