Is it that time again? Nobel prizes flying out the door left and right, who had a chance to build up some suspense, anticipation. I had my favorites, I’m sure you did too. Now the only thing left to guess is who wears the most outrageous gown.
The Nobel Prizes are good for my brain – it’s the only time I show a remote interest in physics, chemistry, physiology, or economics. As for literature, here’s a list of winners from the past decade:
• 2008 - Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio
• 2007 - Doris Lessing
• 2006 - Orhan Pamuk
• 2005 - Harold Pinter
• 2004 - Elfriede Jelinek
• 2003 - J. M. Coetzee
• 2002 - Imre Kertész
• 2001 - V. S. Naipaul
• 2000 - Gao Xingjian
• 1999 - Günter Grass
• 1998 - José Saramago
How pathetic am I. Ok, I love Pinter, read Lessing, and once saw the name Xingjian in a magazine. Probably the New Yorker. Or was it Gourmet? As for the rest? Oh, I’m a sadly lazy reader. Too much Pippi, not enough Pamuk.
I’ll guarantee you this, though. Not one of these authors is good for a giggle. Even Pinter has a humor so black and bleak that if you give yourself up to it at night, you hate yourself in the morning.
I think about these prize winners; wonder about their childhood, upbringing. Some were privileged, some were miserable, others probably knocked around suburbs such as Fullerton and Naperville just like me. But unlike me, they didn’t come home from school and plop in front of a Gilligan’s Island rerun.
I had my chance. Oh, we all have our chance. Here’s picture from a 5th grade play I wrote for a competition. I’m Hamlet, explaining the meaning of angst to Shakespeare, ably played by my friend Pam Schnyder.
It was my play, so Hamlet had most of the lines, though I think Shakespeare let out an "Egad," from time to time.
But even this contest I lost. Steve Melman, as Napoleon at Waterloo, took the prize. His play was weak in character and plot, but everyone clapped when he yelled, “Wow, we better abdicate,” and raced out the classroom door into the volleyball court.
I think my heart broke a little that day.