Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lucia Berlin is finalist for Kirkus Book Prize

Was just hashing out my speech for the big Lucia Berlin book event tonight, cracking open another box of Kleenex, when word broke . . .

Lucia Berlin' A Manual for Cleaning Women is a finalist for the Kirkus Book Prize! 

If you're not familiar with the award, it's because it just debuted last year, but with a prestigious backer and a huge payout, it's suddenly one of the most prized. The New York Times story announcing the finalists began this way:
The literary journal Kirkus Reviews has announced the finalists for its 2015 book prizes. The annual honors, handed out for the first time last year, each come with a $50,000 award, making them among the most lucrative in the literary world.
And look which book the Times chose to picture with the announcement. Nice!

I mentioned in my Vanity Fair piece on my life with Lucia that she died destitute, and sold more books in the first few weeks than she had in her entire life. (I was being careful. She probably sold more in one week than her entire life.)

It has always been a fantasy of mine that she would finally reach a wide audience, and also receive the acclaim she's due. First she hit the New York Times bestseller list, and now awards season begins. I'm giddy.

She won't get to see it, but her sons will. They are. It's having a wonderful effect on them.

I needed all those Kleenex this morning, as I expanded on the anecdote I used to end the Vanity Fair piece: the story about how she told me she loved me. There's a longer version of that, involving the death of Timothy Leary. So I looked that up as I worked on the speech this morning--had I had the realization of how profoundly Lucia's "I love you" had changed me after she died, or in the last years, while she was still alive?

I was shocked. Leary died in 1996. I'd only knew Lucia two years! And I already knew she was the one genius I would ever know intimately, and that that was the greatest gift she would ever give me.

If you're in NYC, come to the event tonight, at McNally Jackson Books at 7pm. Details here.

I just went to their site, and look what's splayed across the top of it, 1200 pixels wide (at left). Nice.

And I just booked a plane ticket to Colorado around midnight. So I'll be speaking at the Boulder Bookstore event Oct. 13, at 7:30pm. Details here. (I'm not listed yet, since I've not even confirmed to them that I'm coming, but they asked, and now I'm answering.)

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