Sobol award news — winners to be published

This is from the Hillel Italie at the AP about the novel contest that costs $85 to enter. Note the final quotation from Sobol’s executive vice president ofcontest management, Sue Pollock, : “The Internet has been more difficult to penetrate than we had hoped.”

A division of Simon & Schuster has agreed to publish the top three winners of the Sobol Award, offering advances of up to $100,000 for a controversial new literary contest for agentless writers that also includes a $100,000 first prize.

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Richard Ford’s “Lay of the Land”


If you read my review of Ford’s book in Sunday’s Times Union, you know that I started the book with high hopes, and ended in disappointment. That, of course, is just me. Or is it?
Having finished reading the book and writing the review, I allowed myself to read other reviews, and found the disconnect between the NYTimes Michiko Kakutani and A.O. Scott to be quiet interesting.
Kakutani’s review includes these lines:

the lethargic third installment of Frank’s story (it follows “The Sportswriter,” published in 1986, and the 1995 sequel “Independence Day”)

the book tends to substitute a lot of talk about New Jersey property values and realtor strategies for genuine insights about how people live today.

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Audio Books: A confession


My name is Mike J.

And I’m a fan of audio books.

Now, some people don’t take audio books seriously. True, it isn’t reading, it’s listening. But isn’t that a kind of throwback to pre-literate days of childhood, of being read to by an adult? Or even further back, of an oral tradition that, in the West at least, goes back to Homer?

Of course, if you’ve read my audio books reviews in the Times Union (which should be available here), you’ll know that I’m not listening to classics, but a mix of contemporary fiction and nonfiction. As someone who pretty much reads words all day for a living (as a slot editor and book reviewer) and who has about a 30-minute commute each way, audio books are a good driving distraction, and a way to zone out while I’m at the gym.

Most of the books I’ve listened to have come from the library. For years, it has been my chief enabler. It’s made me a big fan of Elmore Leonard and Michael Connelly.

This past year, one of the more delightful surprises was Joshilyn Jackson’s “Between Georgia.”

One I’m looking forward to is the New York State Theatre Institute’s “Sherlock’s Legacy.”

Are there are audio-bibliophiles out there? What are some of your favorites? Next week, I’ll post what I think was the best audio book I listened to this year.

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