Arts But Enough About the Books—How Was the Food?
posted by November 24 at 14:50 PMon
In this week’s issue, Angela Garbes reports from the National Book Awards dinner last week in New York City.
The National Book Awards ceremony—the “Oscars of the book world”—is an all-out party for the publishing industry featuring a mini red carpet, mediocre hors d’oeuvres, old white men in tuxedos, and a vague, unrelenting sense of sanctimony. Being associated with an independent poetry press based in Washington State, it is easier for me to feel overwhelmed than involved. “Who the hell are these people?” and “What am I doing here?” are recurring questions in my evening’s interior monologue.
And today on this here website there’s a new From the Archives article: Paul Bravmann’s hilarious report from the 1998 National Book Awards dinner.
By 7:00 p.m. the sixth-floor foyer of New York City’s Marriott Marquis was wall-to-wall tuxedos and designer dresses, many of which revealed the prosaic backs of publishing industry mavens. I felt like a slob in my thrift-store blazer and open collar, so I stood half-hidden behind a pillar at the scene’s periphery. After 10 minutes of pointless loitering, I spotted Harold (Western Canon) Bloom, whose Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, which the judges cited as “exacting and entertaining, infuriating and compelling,ā€¯ was one of this year’s finalists. Bloom shambled past me, as graceful as a haystack, his jowls trembling slightly with each step. His hair, a fine gray froth, was caught by a draft and lifted off his dappled skull. His bow tie was askew. After observing Bloom, a man who manages to make a well-cut tux look dowdy, I felt free to circulate.
There’s also some stuff about books. Enjoy.