Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lessing and the Nobel Prize

Doris Lessing never won me over with her fiction, but she sure as hell came pretty close with her reaction to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday. The scene, as reported by the Associated Press, went a little something like this:

Reporters opened the door and told her she had won the Nobel Prize for literature, to which she responded: "Oh Christ! ... I couldn't care less."

But then she softened up and went with some good, old-fashioned humility:

"I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all, the whole lot, OK?" Lessing said, making her way through the crowd. "It's a royal flush."

Brilliant! Seriously, if I was an 88-year-old fiction writer who'd toiled for years simply to please crowds of academics and then suddenly -- boom! -- I'm the bell of the ball with a $1.5 million check in my pocket and the world's microphone in my face, I'd be feeling a bit saucy, too. You can tell she's a minx just from the way she's sitting:

The one thing that did seem to excite Lessing was the idea that her books might attract a new and perhaps larger audience.

"I'm very pleased if I get some new readers," she said. "Yes, that's very nice, I hadn't thought of that."

Now that's endearing. I'm going to go buy one of her books tomorrow as a show of solidarity and a firm admiration for anyone who can shrug their shoulders and say, "Eh, whatever," to greatness.

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