The FOG Awards: Literature

Since no one bothered to vote for me as a BlogHer Voice Of The Year even though I wasn’t nominated and never do anything even approaching promotion, I’ve decided to create my own awards. Today’s FOG awards will be given out to literature in all its forms.

Best Wordsmith

The Nominees…

Kurt Vonnegut
William Shakespeare
Joseph Conrad

And the winner is…

“Let them think what they liked, but I didn’t mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank–but that’s not the same thing.”

“Droll thing life is–that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself–that comes too late–a crop of inextinguishable regrets.”

“Of all the inanimate objects, of all men’s creations, books are the nearest to us for they contain our very thoughts, our ambitions, our indignations, our illusions, our fidelity to the truth and our persistent leanings to error. But most of all, they resemble us in their precious hold on life.”

“It’s extraordinary how we go through life with eyes half-shut, with dull ears, with dormant thoughts. Perhaps it’s just as well; and it may be that it is this very dullness that makes life to the incalculable majority so supportable and so welcome.”

“Few men realize that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings.”

Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad

Practically every sentence this man wrote is delectable. Reading Conrad is like the wisest person you know–your great-grandfather or some other distinguished, reverent gentleman with more knowledge and life experience than you think you’ll ever have–telling you stories about life. And the kicker of it all? English was not his native tongue. He took the English language and made it his bitch.

Best Science Fiction Author

The Nominees…

William Gibson
Ray Bradbury
Neal Stephenson

And the winner is…

“Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker’s game because they almost always turn out to be—or to be indistinguishable from—self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.”

“Nothing is more important than that you see and love the beauty that is right in front of you, or else you will have no defense against the ugliness that will hem you in and come at you in so many ways.”

“What people do isn’t determined by where they live. It happens to be their damned fault. They decided to watch TV instead of thinking when they were in high school. They decided to blow-off courses and drink beer instead of reading and trying to learn something. They decided to chicken out and be intolerant bastards instead of being open-minded, and finally they decided to go along with their buddies and do things that were terribly wrong when there was no reason they had to. Anyone who hurts someone else decides to hurt them, goes out of their way to do it… The fact that it’s hard to be a good person doesn’t excuse going along and being an asshole. If they can’t overcome their own fear of being unusual, it’s not my fault, because any idiot ought to be able to see that if he just acts reasonably and makes a point of not hurting others, he’ll be happier.”

220px-Neal_Stephenson_2008_crop
Neal Stephenson

Neal wins my award because he wrote not one, but two of my all-time favorite books: Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon. I love him immensely and will read anything he writes, even if it’s awful.

Best Mystery Author

The Nominees…

Raymond Chandler
Dashiell Hammett
Elmore Leonard

And the winner is…

“From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.”

“I don’t mind your showing me your legs. They’re very swell legs and it’s a pleasure to make their acquaintance. I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners. They’re pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long winter nights.”

“He snorted and hit me in the solar plexus. I bent over and took hold of the room with both hands and spun it. When I had it nicely spinning, I gave it a full swing and hit myself on the back of the head with the floor.”

“There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other. Without art, science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science, art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery. The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.”

Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler

Not only is Chandler my favorite mystery writer, but he’s an incredibly underrated author in general. It’s too bad he got pigeonholed into a supposed “throwaway” category of books, because the man was ridiculously smart and incisive. While I love Hammett, he really only has one exceptionally good book, Red Harvest. Chandler, on the other hand, has many. All of his books, and even his notebooks, are worth reading. Perhaps it’s just because we share the same city, but I love his dry wit and straightforward crankiness.

Best Comedy Author

The Nominees…

Terry Pratchett
Douglas Adams
David Sedaris

And the winner is…

“The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

“The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”

“It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, ‘As pretty as an airport.'”

“We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”

Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams

There is no question in this category; Douglas Adams is the funniest author on earth. There are other droll, witty, funny books I love, but none of them come close to the amount of love I have for Adams, particularly the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy books.

Best Poet

The Nominees…

William Shakespeare
Charles Bukowski
Maya Angelou

And the winner is…

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.”

“There’s nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death, but the lives people live or don’t live up until their death. They don’t honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can’t hear it. Most people’s deaths are a sham. There’s nothing left to die.”

Charles Bukowski
Charles Bukowski

Buk is probably my favorite author ever, although, really, it’s impossible to choose a favorite out of the billions of words ever written. He’s the only author whose poetry I prefer to their prose.

Best Non-Fiction Author

The Nominees…

Joan Didion
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
Antony Beevor

And the winner is…

“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”

“I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that’s what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live. We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the “ideas” with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.”

“The ability to think for one’s self depends upon one’s mastery of the language.”

Joan Didion
Joan Didion

When you read Didion, you feel like you know her, like you’re sitting down with an old friend and listening to her tell a story. She’s got such a natural way with words. I read a 1,000 plus page book by her and it didn’t feel that long at all. I wanted more.


Well, I’ve run out of time today, so we’ll end this post here. I don’t even have time to create a proper award image. Perhaps I’ll do more awards in the future. Perhaps I’ll forget all about this.

You don’t have to agree with my choices. Vote for your own: