20 November 2008

The squeaky wheel can't be ignored

Apparently National Book Award jurists didn't mind Peter Matthiessen's SHADOW COUNTRY was a three-volume collection, or else it was so good they were willing to overlook any possible controversy surrounding it taking home the National Book Award for fiction. Which it did.

In Matthiessen's defense (though I haven't read SHADOW COUNTRY), the Modern Library counts several multi-volume series as one entry, including John Dos Passos' USA trilogy (3 books), Lawrence Durrell's THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET (4) and -- and this is really a bit much -- Anthony Powell's A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME, clocking in at 1012 volumes [see correction below]. I read the first one about 5 years ago, but the idea of going forth to the others was just unbearable.

Annette Gordon-Reed's THE HEMINGSES OF MONTICELLO won the nonfiction prize, which I didn't predict either. I had planned to go to the awards but didn't end up arranging for it; ah well, there's always next year.


Marjorie said...

I think A Dance to the Music of Time is actually 12 novels, published in four volumes of three books each. Like you, I read the first volume years ago. I quite liked it but would have to go back to the beginning if I wanted to read the whole cycle now, and that's an exhausting thought...

Ellen said...

My mistake! Well, my point still stands -- sneaking 12 books into 1 slot on a list of 100 books is egregious.