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Arts and Entertainment

LA Times Doesn't Pick our Picks

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We've covered the LA Times Book Prize nominees for the past few weeks and quietly rooted for our picks. The winners, announced at the annual hob-nob affair on Friday night, surprised us. We highlighted our picks weeks ago. What more did the committee have to do other than - you know - pick them? To wit:

We said Daniel Mendelsohn for The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million (Daniel freaking Mendelsohn, the man is a genius!), they said Neal Gabler with his very long, not so interesting book about Walt Disney.

Current Interest
We said Alicia Drake for The Beautiful Fall, they said Ian Buruma for Murder in Amsterdam. Fine. It's just that this category is such a mash-up. With all the death and war and destruction, it was nice to live in Alicia's fashion-y world for awhile. What's wrong with that?

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We said David Mitchell for Black Swan Green (David freaking Mitchell!), they said A. B. Yehoshua for A Woman in Jerusalem. Fine. They were both excellent books and the fact that we have a secret crush on Mitchell may have impaired our judgement.

First Fiction
We said Lisa Fugard for Skinner's Drift (Athol freaking Fugard's daughter!), they said Alice Greenway for White Ghost Girls. Truth be told, we had not read White Ghost Girls when we made our Fugard pick. Once we read Greenway's gently nuanced book (and after we met her this weekend), we say, bravo!

We said Niall Ferguson for her book on "conflict", they picked Lawrence Wright for his Looming Tower Al-Qaeda book. Seems that war plus war = a win for someone.

We bucked the system of obvious and picked Jess Walter's The Zero, they subscribed to the system of the obvious and picked Michael Connelly's Echo Park. That's what you get in LA for writing about NY. Nothing against Echo Park - the book and the park.

We picked Adrian C. Louis' Loggorrhea, they picked Frederick Seidel's Ooga-Booga. Catchier name, we guess.

Science & Technology
We picked This is Your Brain on Music (because how cool does that sound?) in a long shot, knowing full well that Eric Kandel's In Search of Memory would take the prize. It was just too hyped and too interesting to lose.

Young Adult Fiction
We said M.T. Anderson because we think he's the bees knees, they said Coe Booth's Tyrell. Fine.

The good news is that writers of all stripes were honored and the awards have brought attention to books many readers may not have known about otherwise. We say: nothing wrong with that.

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