My Pulitzer Resolution

Every year, I make it my mission to read every book that has won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. So far, I’ve only made it through:

1921 – The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
1932 – The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
1937 – Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
1953 – The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
1961 – to Kill a Mockinbird by Harper Lee
1966 – The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter
1972 – Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
1982 – Rabbit is Rich by John Updike
1991 – Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
1993 – A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler
1998 – American Pastoral by Phillip Roth
2000 – Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
2007 – The Road by Cormac McCarthy

That’s really not a very good track record.

Right now, I am in the middle of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. It won the Pulitzer in 2001. It’s one of those books that I read slowly. Sometimes, if no one is around, I’ll read it outloud.  I’ll even do the character’s voices; or my interpretation of them. Hopefully, I will finish it soon so that I can add it to my list.

The novel follows the lives of two Jewish cousins before, during, and after World War II. They are a Czech artist named Joe Kavalier and a Brooklyn-born writer named Sam Clay. In the novel, Kavalier and Clay become major figures in the nascent comics industry and into its “Golden Age.”

I think that the longest novel that I have ever read was “…and Ladies of the Club” by Helen Hooven Santmyer. It’s around 1400 pages. It took me about 2 weeks. I didn’t read it outloud or do the character’s voices. It’s one of those semi-historical novels that spans generations.
I read it about 20 years ago. The reason that I remember it so well is because my first copy of the book was jacked up. Some of the pages were repeated and some were left out. I had to go get a new copy.

I’m not really consistant with my reading. Sometimes, I’ll read 7 or 8 books in a week and then go months without reading a single one. The impetus for the reading frenzy is usually a book that I have gotten as a gift or bought on impulse. This past Christmas I got 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It’s about a guy who goes into some kind of time warp door to try to stop the Kennedy assassination. It was interesting because Oswald and Kennedy were characters in the book. The only problem that I had with it was that it was based on the theory that Oswald acted alone.

I think the reason that I haven’t read all of the Pulitzer novels is because, years ago, I memorized the list of Pulitzer winners and a brief synopsis for each one. That kind of spoils it. It’s like reading the last page of a book when you first get it.
Maybe this will be the year that I actually do it. I’d better hurry, though. It’s already March.


11 thoughts on “My Pulitzer Resolution

  1. The Last Pullitzer Prize winner I read was “An American Childhood” by Annie Dillard. (1987) I couldn’t come to grips with her writing style and found reading it downright painful. I can count the number of books I’ve stopped reading halfway through on one hand, and this was one of them.

  2. Now I want you to read me a story… out loud. My dad used to read the Lord of the Rings to me and my brothers when we were kids. I love books on tape…CD…. So start recording, dammit.

      1. I’ve been reading them every year since maybe 2008, but now I feel like I should go all the way back after seeing your list. And yes, sheesh – daunting. Have you given yourself a time limit? Is it a year? Good luck! I will come back to see how you liked the books, if you plan on reviewing them.

  3. I never thought of Pulizter prize authors before but did try the google and the BBC 100 must reads, though I had read more than half the list anyway it was a great way to revisit some of the authors.

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