Pulitzer Prizes are announced. Note that David Hackett Fischer won in History for Washingtons Crossing, a very good book, although I was rooting for Allen Guelzos Lincolns Emancipation. Note that in the Fiction category, Marilynne Robinson won it for Gilead, which I am now reading and--so far--find it good, finely textured, the quiet rhythm of a dying reverend, writing to his son about loving life. Here is an early paragraph:
I really cant tell whats beautiful anymore. I passed two young fellows on the street the other day. I know who they are, they work at the garage. Theyre not churchgoing, either one of them, just decent rascally young fellows who have to be joking all the time, and there they were, propped against the garage wall in the sunshine, lighting up their cigarettes. Theyre always so black with grease and so strong with gasoline I dont know why they dont catch fire themselves. They were passing remarks back and forth the way they do and laughing that wicked way they have. And it seemed beautiful to me. It is an amazing thing to watch people laugh, the way it sort of takes them over. Sometimes they really do struggle with it. I see that in church often enough. So I wonder what it is and where it comes from, and I wonder what it expends out of your system, so that you have to do it till youre done, like crying in a way, I suppose, except that laughter is much more easily spent.
When they saw me coming, of course the joking stopped, but I could see they were still laughing to themselves, thinking what the old preacher almost heard them say.
I felt like telling them, I appreciate a joke as much as anyone else. There have been many occassions in my life when I have wanted to say that. But its not a thing people are willing to accept....