Cast your vote for Pulitzer best fiction
Book discussion from 7 to 8 p.m. July 19 in Maze Branch Library on Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:10AM
This year the Pulitzer Prize committee failed to select a winner for fiction. So we need to make the choice for them!
Oak Park Public Library’s “Pick the Pulitzer” book discussion series, held at the Maze Branch Library this summer, gives you — the reader — the chance to cast a vote for the best literature.
Join in any or all of the book discussions to be held from 7 to 8 p.m. at Maze Branch Library, 845 S. Gunderson Ave., in the Meeting Room.
Following the final discussion in August, one book with be crowned Oak Park Public Library’s “Pulitzer Pick.”
And the finalists are …
Correction 6/12/12: Library staff indicated they had listed the wrong date for Train Dreams discussion. It is June 21.
June 21 — Train Dreams by Denis Johnson.
Originally an O. Henry prize-winning novella published in 2003 in the Paris Review, Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams finally gets the stand-alone re-issue it deserves. In spare, lyrical prose, Johnson tells the story of logger/railroad worker Robert Grainier’s struggles with early abandonment, devastating loss and isolationism, against the backdrop of the western frontier. Capturing the expanse of technology and industry in the early 20th century American West, and interweaving the mysticism of traditional tall tale stories, Johnson’s novella is nothing short of a haunting, diamond-in-the-rough.
July 19 — Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.
Russell’s debut novel, developed from a short story included in her previous book St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, tells the tale of the Bigtree clan, owners of the alligator-wrestling tourist attraction known as Swamplandia!, nestled in the Florida Everglades. After losing Hilola, the park’s star wrestler and matriarch of the family, the Bigtree clan faces the consequent challenges of a failing business. Partially narrated by main protagonist 13-year-old Ava Bigtree, Russell weaves elements of mysticism and mythology into an engrossing, fantastical coming-of-age-story.
Aug. 16 — The Pale King by David Foster Wallace.
Comprised of a combination of manuscripts, drafts and notes left behind after Wallace’s death and culled together by editor, Michael Pietsch, The Pale King follows several recruits (including a character named David Foster Wallace) arriving at IRS Peoria REC (Regional Examination Center). As the quirks and histories of each recruit in this band of misfits is further explored, oftentimes in satirical, bleak and darkly humorous tones, Wallace uses the setting and frame of the story to explore the larger issues of broken bureaucracy, consumerism and human struggle.
Jessica Bartz is a library assistant at the Maze Branch Library, 845 S. Gunderson Ave., in Oak Park.