Today, Literary Arts
announced the finalists for the 2008 Oregon Book Awards
(OBA's). Winners will be announced in conjunction with Wordstock
at a ceremony on Sunday, November 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Fields Ballroom at the Portland Art Museum. Click here
to get your tickets.
Now you know all the important stuff.
But since you're here anyway, why not join me and engage in a little shameless speculation
about the finalists for the Ken Kesey Fiction Award? Because all genres are created equal, but some genres are more equal than others. (For finalists in mamsy-pamsy disciplines like poetry
and young adult fiction
, just skip to the bottom of the page.)
KEN KESEY AWARD FOR FICTION (Judge: A.M. Homes)
K.B. Dixon of Portland, The Sum of His Syndromes (Inkwater Press)
Definite underdog here. Author K.B. Dixon describes his book as a “collage of notes written in a sixth-floor men's room,” and he's not kidding. The Sum of His Syndromes
is funny; it's insightful; it's gonzo; but its bite-size sections are cryptic like Nietzsche, and arguably a lot less important.
Molly Gloss of Portland, The Hearts of Horses (Houghton Mifflin)
Don't be fooled by the faux Black Beauty
vibe. This is proto-feminism disguised as a horse book, and its loose, ambling structure is right in line with past OBA-winners.
Ehud Havazelet of Corvallis, Bearing the Body (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Havazelet is a heavyweight, but his debut novel is trying to do too much, serving up double-portions of sexual misconduct, drug addiction, mysterious murder, a cross-country voyage, and Holocaust memories. Oofdah. Less is more.
Lee Montgomery of Portland, Whose World is This (University of Iowa Press)
This collection is already decorated—it won the University of Iowa John Simmons Short Fiction Award. And the concentrated quality of these stories—they're appealingly short, and they pack a wallop—makes them a serious contender.
Willy Vlautin of Scappoose, The Motel Life (Harper Perennial)
Author Willy Vlautin is best-known as a country musician, and accordingly his novel is honest but untutored. I've never been a fan of down-at-the-heels Nevada fiction, but maybe the OBA judges have a taste for that stuff.
And now, on with the show.
ANGUS L. BOWMER AWARD FOR DRAMA (Judge: Sherry Kramer)
Dori Appel of Ashland, Hat Tricks
Jacklyn Maddux of Portland, Strange Sightings in the Great Southwest
Steve Patterson of Portland, Lost Wavelengths
Francesca Sanders of Portland, I Become a Guitar
George Taylor of Beaverton, Renaissance
STAFFORD/HALL AWARD FOR POETRY (Judge: Cornelius Eady)
Judith Barrington of Portland, Postcard from the Bottom of the Sea (The Eighth Mountain Press)
Brian Doyle of Portland, Thirsty for the Joy (One Day Hill)
Kate Gray of Portland, Another Sunset We Survive (Cedar House Books)
John C. Morrison of Portland, Heaven of the Moment (Fairweather Books)
Penelope Scambly Schott of Portland, A is for Anne (Turning Point)
FRANCES FULLER VICTOR AWARD FOR GENERAL NONFICTION (Judge: Deborah Blum)
Steven W. Bender of Portland, One Night in America: Robert Kennedy, Cesar Chavez, and the Dream of Dignity (Paradigm Publishers)
Neil W. Browne of Bend, The World in Which We Occur: John Dewey, Pragmatist Ecology, and American Ecological Writing in the Twentieth Century (University of Alabama Press)
Pamela Smith Hill of Portland, Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life (South Dakota State Historical Society)
Kimberly Jensen of Monmouth, Mobilizing Minerva: American Women in the First World War (University of Illinois Press)
Darius Rejali of Portland, Torture and Democracy (Princeton University Press)
SARAH WINNEMUCCA AWARD FOR CREATIVE NONFICTION (Judge: Barbara Sjoholm)
Beren deMotier of Portland, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage (iUniverse, Inc)
Jill Kelly of Portland, Sober Truths: The Making of an Honest Woman (iUniverse, Inc.)
Lauren Kessler of Eugene, Dancing with Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's (Viking Adult)
Christopher Van Tilburg of Hood River, Mountain Rescue Doctor: Wilderness Medicine in the Extremes of Nature (St. Martin's Press)
ELOISE JARVIS MCGRAW AWARD FOR CHILDREN'S LITERATURE (Judge: Jacqueline Woodson)
Lori Ries of Tigard, Punk Wig (Boyd's Mill Press)
Elizabeth Rusch of Portland, A Day With No Crayons (Rising Moon)
Elizabeth Rusch of Portland, The Planet Hunter: The Story Behind What Happened to Pluto (Rising Moon)
Cynthia Rylant of Eugene, Alligator Boy (Harcourt Children's Books)
Cynthia Rylant of Eugene, Puppies and Piggies (Harcourt Children's Books)
LESLIE BRADSHAW AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE (Judge: Jacqueline Woodson)
Sara Ryan of Portland, The Rules for Hearts (Viking Juvenile)
Graham Salisbury of Lake Oswego, Night of the Howling Dogs (Wendy Lamb Books)
Roland Smith of Wilsonville, Peak (Harcourt Paperbacks)
Linda Zuckerman of Portland, A Taste for Rabbit (Arthur A. Levine Books)