Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

WaPo’s Book Nerd on the NBA

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I was at a conference in Denver earlier this year, and brought one of my old college friends to the keynote by Michael Chabon. He’s a high school history teacher, one of the smartest guys I know, and, most importantly, a person interested in literature.

Chabon was his usual entertaining self: waxing poetic on the business of publishing, sharing secrets about his hipster-comic book-literary successes. At one point, he even cracked a joke about loving Proust–at which the audience of approximately one thousand writers laughed.

It was at this point that my friend leaned in and whispered to me, “Book nerds.”

Okay, I admit it. I’ve even blogged and lamented about our short attention society in the past. Lucky for me, Ron Charles, the book critic for The Washington Post, is also a book nerd. Here, he attempts to infuse a run-down of the nominees for this year’s National Book Award with his dorky, low-fi comedy. His joke about viewers confusing the NBA (National Book Awards) with the NBA (the multimillion dollar sport) certainly falls flat.

Though Charles doesn’t always succeed, I love his enthusiasm. Hell, how can one book nerd criticize another?

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Filed under: books, culture, literature, , , , , , ,

Poet Mark Doty earns Nat’l Book Award

Lyrical poet and all-around nice guy Mark Doty won the National Book Award for Poetry for his book of New and Collected Poems, Fire to Fire. The award was presented last night at a black-tie dinner in New York.

I say “nice guy” without guile because, in the several times that I’ve met Doty, he has been one of the most gracious and unassuming major writers I’ve met. I happened upon his poems more than a dozen years ago, when he was giving a small poetry reading at a Newbury Street art gallery. I was just beginning to take myself seriously as a writer then, and the epic scale of his work and its unapologetically gay content made an impression. Now, I often teach his poem “At the Gym”, from Source, as an example of the way that an everyday act like benchpressing can be layered with poetic meaning.

Whenever I hear Mark Doty’s name, I’m also saddened by the fact that Doty could have been a part of the English deparment faculty at B.C. Our loss.

Doty is a stunning poet, and, as he mentions in interviews, the National Book Award is especially sweet because it honors a collection of his life’s work.

Filed under: literature, , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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