Once again, I’m an illiterati

Now I read, on average, at least one book a week. And it’s not like I’m reading boilerplate serializations or harlequin romances. If I look back on the authors and books I’ve read, I’m certainly not embarrassed. Yet around this time each year I once again sense my “illiterati” status.

Wednesday was the latest case in point. The National Book Award finalists were announced. Not only have I not read any of the 10 finalists in the fiction and nonfiction categories, I’ve only really heard of two or three of them.

Maybe I’m just getting too old. Gore Vidal is getting the Natinoal Book Foundation’s 2009 award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The award is given for “a life of service, or a corpus of work.” Vidal is one of my favorite authors and I’ve read nearly a dozen of his novels. Of course, my favorites include ones that many people may never have heard of, let alone read — Messiah, Julian, Burr and Kalki.

Congrats to the finalists — maybe I’ll get one or more of them read some day.

First coffee. Then a bowel movement. Then the muse joins me.

Gore Vidal on his writing routine,
The Paris Review, Fall 1974

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