Saturday, September 09, 2006

Votes and more votes

First, a reminder that anyone who hasn't yet voted for this fine feature (or hasn't voted using all 17 of their alternate e-mail addresses) for Milwaukee Blog of the Week has a few more days. At least I think it's a few more days. As previously noted, I have no idea how the hardworking staff here at 19 Minutes World Media Headquarters came to be nominated, so I'm also a little fuzzy on the groundrules. In any case, if you're still waiting for the right moment to cast your vote, now's a swell time to surf over to MKE Online and click on the appropriate buttons.

After that complicated ordeal, if you're still in a voting mood - or if you need more voting practice before the upcoming general election - another popularity contest worth a web stop is the Quill Awards. I'm a mite turned-off by its self-description ("The Quill Awards pair a populist sensibility with Hollywood-style glitz and have become the first literary prizes to reflect the tastes of the group that matters most in publishing-readers."), which seems to be a cover for giving writing awards to Anderson Cooper, Rachael Ray and Dr. Andrew Weil.

But it turns out that in my other - public radio - life, I've interviewed four authors with books nominated for Book of the Year: Sara Gruen (for "Water for Elephants"), David Maraniss ("Clemente"), Christopher Moore ("A Dirty Job"), and Catherine Gilbert Murdock ("Dairy Queen"). And I can say without question all four of their books are eminently worth reading.

[Mitch's note: Well, strictly speaking, I can't guarantee Maraniss's book is a great read. Someone on my show's staff (no one has copped to this) booked the Maraniss interview, and then didn't mention it to anyone, nor did the publisher send a copy of the book. As a result, David Maraniss and an author escort showed up early one afternoon, and no one was expecting him. Fortunately, a) Maraniss was very understanding; b) he had a copy of his own book with him; and c) he was willing to wait 15 minutes while I at least looked through the table of contents and some of the chapter headings. Fortunately, too, I had been watching a Brewers-Pirates game the night before which had gotten boring enough that the announcers had launched into two innings' worth of Roberto Clemente trivia, so his career was fresh in my mind. But I digress.]

Anyway, they're all worth voting for in their respective categories. Both Moore and Gruen are nominated in the "General Fiction" category - "Water for Elephants" was a page turner with a fun ending and and got plenty of hype, but I'd probably go with "A Dirty Job", because it introduces the concept of the "Beta Male", a concept that fits the 19 Minutes lifestyle pretty well.

Unless you have a teenaged girl in your household, you may not be familiar with "Dairy Queen". (It's nominated in the "Young Adult/Teen" category.) And that's a shame, because of the four - it's the one that had the most lasting impression. The book - which is about a Wisconsin farm girl who wants to play high school football - is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. And the narrative voice is a refreshing, authentic departure from the usual wisecracking, precocious teen protagonist. It's a good read, though I will confess to feeling a little sheepish about getting on the bus and pulling out a book adorned with a tiara-wearing cow on its cover.

I have no recommendations for the "Romance" category, though I was interested to read that one can now get Harlequin Romance books delivered directly to one's cellular phone. I can only wonder about the impact this will have on other genres. For example, the impact of the tiara-wearing cow might be minimized on a 1"X1" cell phone screen.

1 comment:

Carol Davidson said...

I voted! This could be the start of something big!

Hope all's well.