Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

GOP's Overlooked Prize Fiction

Pulitzer judges should reconsider their decision. By declining to name an award-winning novel this year, they have overlooked the greatest creation of all, a huge work of collective fiction titled “Obama.”

In other categories, the Board expanded its vista beyond the printed page to Politico and the Huffington Post. Why not recognize an achievement that brings cave-dweller story-telling into the 21st century?

Reading fiction, argues a literary figure, is “a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps.”

True enough, but dead-tree advocates fail to recognize the cumulative creative power of digital and electronic fantasies as those of the Republican debates and the Tea Party Congress to construct “social platforms” with both immediacy and lasting impact on millions who no longer read books but vote imaginings of “a life other than their own.”

Such achievements go as deep into the American soul as Richard Russo’s “Empire Falls” or Don DeLillo’s “Underworld” but are not limited to what can be contained between hard covers or appreciated only by people who don’t move their lips when they read.

Now, the national imagination is filled with such unforgettable figures as the monthly Mitt Romneys (the antithesis of “The Invisible Man” for our time), the Dickensian Rush Limbaugh and Mitch McConnell, along with scores of improbable but indelible characters.

Even a more compelling argument for awarding a prize to the GOP’s “Obama” is that it is an endless work, with such delights as learning that, even though Romney strapped canines to the top of station wagons, the current president ate dog meat as a child.

Can Art compete with that kind of Life?

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