Monday, October 10, 2005

Banville Wins Booker! Barnes Robbed Again!! Master Of English Literary World Waxes Lyrical On - Parking In LA!!,0,324014.story?coll=la-tot-promo&track=morenews

Susan Salter Reynolds October 11, 2005 LONDON

The Man Booker Prize, the world's most prestigious award for new fiction, was awarded here Monday to Irish writer and critic John Banville. In a closed news conference prior to a gala dinner at London's historic Guild Hall, the five Booker judges said their decision to honor Banville's "The Sea" followed "an extraordinarily closely contested last round in which judges felt the level of the short-listed novels was as high as it had every been."

They called Banville's novel "a masterly study of grief, memory and love recollected."The award includes a cash prize, which this year amounts to $91,800. (The other authors on this year's short list were Sebastian Barry, Kazuo Ishiguro, Julian Barnes, Zadie Smith and Ali Smith.)"

It was like a fiercely argued seminar," said John Sutherland, chairman of the judges' committee, which annually awards the prize to the best novel by a Commonwealth or Irish citizen that is published in Britain."It was very civilized, and yet at the same time people had very deeply held views," Sutherland said. "The discussion could have gone on for three days. It was by no means unanimous. But no one would have been mortified if any of the other books won."

So... once again, Julian Barnes was robbed! Well, since "The Sea" is one of the two novels I have not read, I can't say that with real certainty, but as a long time Barnes fan, it's sad to see him strike out a third time for the Booker, particularly since winning it might have helped him become better known in America.

I stumbled across his METROLAND back in the very early 1980's when a Brit I was seeing had brought over a copy from the UK before it was published here and I made the mistake of picking it up at... shall we say... an inopportune... moment when she felt that my attention should have been focused... elsewhere.

And even today, I still had to get someone to ship me his latest novel since it will not be published here until winter or spring, I think.

Final fun fact!

Booker jury head John Sutherland is a huge fan of LA (as well as being a fellow Mike Davis agnostic), and for years taught literature at Cal Tech... of all places... and still teaches there one quarter a year. One of my favorite recent writings by him is on the oh, so California topic - of secret parking spots. Below is the end of a quite elegant essay on the subject:

Faculty and students use Caltech around the clock. I frequently work till 11 p.m. or midnight (strange life forms emerge on the campus, and in Millikan Library, at this witching hour). One of the pleasures of life here is to walk through the cool campus, by the lily ponds, late at night, conscious that one is safe, and that all around people are quietly working, expanding the frontiers of knowledge. But after such a stint, one doesn’t feel like coming in with the lark next morning.

If you do turn up after 9 a.m., chances are you will be met by “Lot Full” signs. It makes people ratty, it makes them late, and it palpably reduces the efficiency of the place.

The Institute should, I think, consider abolishing designated parking privileges after 11 a.m. There are few more vexing experiences than cruising around an otherwise jam-packed lot or structure, with gaping holes that you know will never be filled because the designated parker is either (1) on leave, (2) retired and only comes in once a week for mail, or (3) deceased.
If all the reserved parking spaces turned into pumpkins at 11, it would enable colleagues to move from the street when the 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. grace period elapses.

In the interim, I would suggest some guerilla parking tactics. First, of course, is to talk to your division administrator, find out who is on leave, and snaffle their place (a paint-pot at midnight and some pirate redesignating, for the more adventurous guerilla). Carpooling is never going to work at Caltech, where people have such different modi operandi. But it would be socially responsible for colleagues to inform their division or department when they will not be coming in and when their designated space is up for grabs—to be distributed, perhaps, by divisional lottery or by auction.

There are some frankly antisocial tactics. Come in at 10 a.m., park on the street, then slip into one of the spots that falls vacant at noon, when colleagues drive off to lunch. Of course, when the poor sods come back, they must do the circuit, looking vainly for what is no longer there. I’ve done it, I’m sorry to say. War of all against all.

Oddly, the Caltech community seems averse to parking south of California. When, as increasingly happens, I can find nothing on campus, I go a couple of hundred yards to Holladay Road, and park (appropriately, as I like to think) outside George Ellery Hale’s house. It’s a big, empty San Marino street with, as far as I can see, no restrictions. You can walk, pleasantly, down leafy Lombardy and up Arden, use the Ped Xing, and come up into campus by its nicest entrance, the Bridge colonnade, Throop Site, and Millikan Pond. Don’t tell anyone, though. We don’t want everyone to start going there.

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