How To Lose A Major Literary Award

The winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize was just announced in London, and as I predicted on the day the shortlist came out, Deadweather and Sunrise got its scruffy little butt kicked by R.J. Palacio’s Wonder.imgres

Earlier this morning, my British editor emailed me to request that I write an acceptance speech for her to deliver on my behalf at the announcement ceremony in the event that I won.

While I more or less knew this was a complete waste of time (I mean, have you read Wonder? It is heartbreaking), I complied. Because, really, who wants to let down their British editor? I feel lucky to even have a British editor.

But as I wallow in the bitter tears of defeat, it occurs to me that, well, I have this blog…the whole point of which is to post things that are a complete waste of time. So here’s the speech my British editor never had to give on my behalf:

TO BE READ IN THE EVENT OF MY WINNING THE WATERSTONES CHILDREN’S BOOK PRIZE

I am flattered, honored, eternally grateful, and thoroughly convinced that you are all out of your minds.

I can only hope that you do not come to your senses until tomorrow morning at the earliest, so that I can enjoy the spectacle of reading more headlines like the one that appeared in the Telegraph when Deadweather and Sunrise was first short-listed. That particular headline, “Beavis and Butt-head Writer Short-Listed For Literary Award,” provided me no end of joy — irrespective of how relatively minor my two co-written episodes of Beavis and Butt-head were in the context of that show’s several hundred OTHER episodes, none of which I had anything to do with.

This honor also comes as a great relief from a purely nativist perspective. For nearly as long as the United States of America has existed, our domestic writers have received the lion’s share of the blame for the decay of English-language culture, while the United Kingdom has held itself up as the last bastion of eloquence and civility in an increasingly barbarous world.

Having grown up watching repeats of The Young Ones, listening to the Sex Pistols, and quoting Monty Python’s Wink-Wink-Nudge-Nudge sketch from memory, I have never fully understood this affectation.

Which is why it gives me great pleasure to see that you stepped over such a touching and frankly high-class work of genuine, American-bred art as R.J. Palacio’s Wonder in order to recognize a book in which unpleasant young boys employ foul language while bashing each other on the head with cannonballs.

This seems, at long last, to be incontrovertible evidence that Western civilization’s headlong rush off a cliff and into an apocalyptic abyss is, while still arguably America’s fault, at least being abetted by our more putatively cultured forbears across the Atlantic.

In all seriousness, folks, thanks much. If I seriously believed I had a snowball’s chance in Bermuda of winning this award, I would have spent more than three minutes composing my speech. I might even have gotten on a plane to deliver it. If you get a chance, please send an email and let me know if the canapés would have been worth the price of a ticket.

And please do let all the schoolteachers and librarians in the U.K. know that I’m available for school visits and Skype talks.

Thank you again!

Sincerely,

Geoff Rodkey

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