Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Thursday, October 09, 2014

 Patrick Modiano. Don't know him, but I'm certainly open to reading something by him. Local Public Intellectual (yes, that's a thing) Jeff Simon weighed in on Noble Literature Prize earlier in the week: he is grumpy because an American hasn't won since Toni Morrison in 90's, and was rooting for Philip Roth, or Joyce Carol Oates, or Richard Ford. There is a good case for Roth, based on his own shelf, and on his work promoting Eastern European writers, but there are always good cases to be made for a lot of people. I'm re-reading The Quiet American at the moment-- just finishing it up, actually, and Graham Greene, famously out of favor with the Swedish Academy, had a great case for the prize. The prize has gone someone born in the US 8 times; only France (11) can claim more native winners. Germany has had 8, the UK 7 (including Winston Churchill). Sweden has had 7, Italy 6, Russia and Spain 5 each. Of course, a lot depends on how you count: Joseph Brodsky was born in the Soviet Union but was an American citizen when he won; Isaac Bashevis Singer was born in the Russian Empire. (Saul Bellow was born in Canada.) Actually, Russia presents a real dilemma if you are keeping score--  some cats, like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Boris Pasternak were citizens of the Soviet Union, Ivan Bunin was born in the Russian Empire, wrote in Russian, lived in France, and was "stateless" according to the Academy. And so on. It probably makes more sense to break it down by language, or maybe not to break it down at all. There is really no purpose to treating the Prize as if it is some kind of US News & World Report ranking system.

On the other hand, this year's nominees for the Rock and Roll HOF are ridiculous: Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, N.W.A, the Smiths, Lou Reed, Sting, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Kraftwerk, Chic, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, the Marvelettes, the Spinners, Stevie Ray Vaughan, War and Bill Withers. Reed is already in for his work with the Velvet Underground, but his subsequent career merits recognition. I wish the Smiths were more significant to me personally, but okay. Kraftwerk absolutely, likewise Chic and the Spinners. Sorry, Bill Withers, wrong HOF.

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