(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘National Book Award

It’s time for a screaming to come across the sky…

… time to crack Inherent Vice in a coffee shop, time to trot out V on a train, time to wield Against the Day at work…  It’s Pynchon in Public Day!


As we give ourselves over to the glories of glittering prose, we might send crafty birthday greetings to the man himself; Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. was born on this date in 1937.  A MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and National Book Award winner (for Gravity’s Rainbow), Pynchon studied with Nabokov* at Cornell. He is frequently mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The famously camera-shy author as a Cornell student and in a cameo appearance on The Simpsons


* The famously- misdirecting Nabokov later said that he had no memory of Pynchon; but Nabokov’s wife Véra, who graded her husband’s class papers, has reported that she remembered Pynchon’s distinctive handwriting, a mixture of printed and cursive letters.

Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 8, 2013 at 1:01 am

The March of Progress, Dinosaur Edition…

Among the many chastening revelations that come of aging, surely the most disturbing is the discovery that the dinosaurs whose names and characteristics one so lovingly committed to childhood memory didn’t actually exist…  at least not in forms that even vaguely resemble the ones one knew and loved.

Consider the pterodactyl, that leathery flying lizard, denizen of Conan Doyle’s The Lost World,


and inspiration for Rodan.


Turns out that no such beast actually existed.  Rather, the march of science has revealed, there were a family of creatures, Pterosaurs, with rather different– though not necessarily less cinematic– characteristics.  For instance,

Caulkicephalus trimicrodon (illustration: Luis Rey)

Happily, Dave Hone has created Pterosaur.net— a font of remedial information.

As we come to terms with the advance of knowledge, we might give a tip o’ the birthday hat to Susan Sontag, the essayist (“Against Interpretation,” “Illness as Metaphor”), critic (“Notes on Camp,” “On Photography”), novelist (Death Kit, The Volcano Lovers, In America— which won the National Book Award for fiction in 2000), and Berkeley grad; she was born on this date in 1933.

Susan Sontag, by (her partner) Annie Leibovitz

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