Monday, August 20, 2012

Thurber Prize Announces 2012 Finalists

Started in 1997, the Thurber Prize for American Humor is the only recognition of the art of humor writing in the United States. A panel of national judges selects the three finalists from a selection of seven or eight semi-finalists. Books submitted for a prize year had to have been published the prior year.

The winner is announced at a special awards ceremony at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City where James Thurber once lived. The winner of the prize receives $5,000 and then is the guest entertainment for the annual December Thurber Birthday Gala.

2012 Finalists:

Welcome to Pawnee: More Exciting than New York, More Glamorous than Hollywood, Roughly the Same Size as Bismarck, North Dakota In "Pawnee," Leslie Knope (as played by Amy Poehler on NBC's hit show "Parks and Recreation") takes readers on a hilarious tour through her hometown, the Midwestern haven known as Pawnee, Indiana. The book chronicles the city's colorful citizens and hopping nightlife, and also explores some of the most hilarious events from its crazy history--like the time the whole town was on fire, its ongoing raccoon infestation, and the cult that took over in the 1970s. Packed with laugh-out-loud-funny photographs, illustrations, and commentary by the other inhabitants of Pawnee, it's a must-read that will make you enjoy every moment of your stay in the Greatest Town in America.

For at least forty years, Calvin Trillin has committed blatant acts of funniness all over the place—in The New Yorker, in one-man off-Broadway shows, in his “deadline poetry” for The Nation, in comic novels like Tepper Isn’t Going Out, in books chronicling his adventures as a happy eater, and in the column USA Today called “simply the funniest regular column in journalism.”

Now Trillin selects the best of his funny stuff and organizes it into topics like high finance (“My long-term investment strategy has been criticized as being entirely too dependent on Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes”) and the literary life (“The average shelf life of a book is somewhere between milk and yogurt.”)

In Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin, the author deals with such subjects as the horrors of witnessing a voodoo economics ceremony and the mystery of how his mother managed for thirty years to feed her family nothing but leftovers (“We have a team of anthropologists in there now looking for the original meal”) and the true story behind the Shoe Bomber: “The one terrorist in England with a sense of humor, a man known as Khalid the Droll, had said to the cell, ‘I bet I can get them all to take off their shoes in airports.’ ” He remembers Sarah Palin with a poem called “On a Clear Day, I See Vladivostok” and John Edwards with one called “Yes, I Know He’s a Mill Worker’s Son, but There’s Hollywood in That Hair.”

In this, the definitive collection of his humor, Calvin Trillin is prescient, insightful, and invariably hilarious.

While waiting in line for apple pie at a party, Imogene Gilfeather, a lingerie designer who does not understand the reason for romance, meets Wally Yez, a scientist. Imogene is told that Wally is the perfect guy. (“Perfect,” she replies, “is not my type.”) Unfazed by Imogene’s indifference, Wally resolves to win her over. E-mails turn into late-night phone calls; one date turns into two and then more.

Wally is certain he and Imogene are meant for each other. (They both use mechanical pencils! Neither has had mumps!) But convincing his beloved is another matter. In defiance of the odds, or the gods, or perhaps just Imogene’s qualms, Wally and Imogene become a pair. Will Imogene indulge Wally’s longing for children? Can they possibly end as happily as they’ve begun?

Starting from Happy is a winning and sophisticated look at a rather zany couple as they come of age, and then just age—by one of the finest comic writers of our time.

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