A month ago, publishing industry people were saying that Denis Johnson’s sprawling, Vietnam War novel, Tree of Smoke was the shoo-in for the National Book Award for fiction, and last night it won. But that doesn’t mean the choice is a disappointment. Far from it. Johnson has been a cult writer who deserves the spotlight. You can read my brief review of the novel (it was for Men’s Vogue magazine) here.
But while you’re considering the winners (like the blockbuster Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA), you might take a look at “How to Win a National Book Award in Five Easy Steps,” even if author Boris Kachka completely missed short-story writer Jim Shepard’s well-deserved win for Like You’d Understand, Anyway.