The National Book Awards, announced Wednesday, add incomparable and well-deserved luster to the reputations of the lucky - that is to say, the absolutely worthy and painstakingly chosen - winners, and also reveal the vibrancy and diversity of American literary endeavor in all its forms....
Or to put it another way, the prizes, transparently trivial, implicitly corrupt and utterly detached from any meaningful notion of literary value, will be greeted with cynicism, derision and, if we're lucky, a burst of controversy. It will escape no one's attention that the very idea of handing out medals and cash for aesthetic and intellectual achievement is absurd, if not obscene. Furthermore, the selections will inevitably reflect the rottenness of the literary status quo, which is either hopelessly stodgy and out of touch, or else distracted by modish extraliterary considerations - hobbled, that is, either by conservative complacency or by political correctness.
The awards will also force upon the public the startling revelation that book publishing is a commercial enterprise. Unless of course they uphold the idealistic principle that it isn't. Anyway, the winners will be the obvious choices, authors who have already won plenty of prizes and acclaim, in which case what's the point? Or the winners will be people nobody outside a tiny elite has ever heard of in which case, well, see above.
That's about as much as I dare quote here, for fear of copyright infringement, but those of you who are interested in such things should nip over there and read the rest. Those of you who aren't interested (and I am sure that you are now, if you were not before, legion) can relax. I am now finished blogging about the National Book Awards.
Until next year.