Read This: Annie Proulx’s National Book Award Speech

Annie Proulx, via the National Book Foundation

Editor's Note:

Also in our news roundup: the books that made Elon Musk successful, YA fanfic inspired by People‘s Sexiest Man of the Year, and more. It’s the Daily Blunt!

Annie Proulx stunned at the National Book Award, delivering a speech upon receiving this year’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Her words, which Vulture has reproduced in their entirety, acknowledge just how trying our past year has been, and assure readers that there’s no shame in holding out for a happy ending, just the way we do when we read fiction. “Darwin: They say he read novels to relax, but only certain kinds – nothing that ended unhappily,” Proulx informed the crowd. “If he happened on something like that, enraged, he flung the book into the fire. True or not, I’m ready to believe it.” Spending our time setting the gloomy world to rights, we earn the right to indulge in fantasies of splendor.


If you want your kid to grow up to be the next Elon Musk, now you know which books they should read (and if you don’t, you now know which ones to avoid). The tech pioneer and Tesla CEO, who describes himself as having been “raised by books,” has offered us a bouquet of literary selections which he credits for his success,  which run from old-fashioned genius inspo like Einstein and Ben Franklin to literary meditations on human nature like The Lord of the Flies. We can’t guarantee that reading these will make you a billionaire, but you’ll definitely wiser than when you started.


Call it a tradition: for the last few years, The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg has been welcoming the new Sexiest Man Alive, as determined by People, by composing fan fiction in their honor. Namely, it’s a YA horror-thriller series starring the honorees. This year’s controversial “winner” (if you could call it a contest) Blake Shelton may have been tepidly received by the public, but he still gets to be a star in Ortberg’s ongoing saga about the arcane rituals associated with earning the title. including a cameo by his real life girlfriend Gwen Stefani.


Any new museum should start out with some kind of scandal brewing – it’s the best possible form of advertisement. In the case of Washington DC’s new Museum of the Bible, a certain Dead Sea scroll exhibit has already got people buzzing over whether the artifacts are real or if they’re fakes designed to dupe evangelical Christians (like the ones who opened the museum). Among the markets where scroll fragments like these can be found, experts say, “Ninety percent of those are fake.” That means it’s possible that none of the Museum’s thirteen fragments are authentic, despite the millions of dollars it likely paid for them. It also inspires questions about the who’s manufacturing all these clever forgeries. As one of the researchers comments: “Whoever is behind this may be someone who we all know.”