Scene @ LA Times Book Prizes

By Neal Comment


Eric R. Kandel (center) had good cause to enjoy himself at the reception following the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes ceremony Friday night, having won the science and technology writing category for In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind. In his acceptance speech, he compared the feeling of coming to the awards ceremony, held at UCLA’s Royce Hall, to that of going to Stockholm to accept the Nobel for his research the role of neurons in memory storage. At least with the Nobel, he joked, you know before you show up that you’re going to get something…

Here are the winners in the other categories:

  • Biography: Neal Gabler, Walt Disney
  • Current Interest: Ian Buruma, Murder in Amsterdam
  • Fiction: A.B. Yehoshua, A Woman in Jerusalem
  • History: Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower
  • Mystery/Thriller: Michael Connelly, Echo Park
  • Poetry: Frederick Seidel, Ooga-Booga
  • YA Fiction: Coe Booth, Tyrell
  • Art Seidenbaum Award (First Fiction): Alice Greenway, White Ghost Girls
  • Robert Kirsch Award: William Kittredge

As I mentioned above, following the ceremony most of the audience made their way to the back of the hall, where the Times had set up a huge reception area with plenty of food and drink. Excellent elbow-rubbing opportunities abounded: Erika Schickel led me across the pavilion to introduce me to her father, Richard Schickel, as “the guy who wrote about you on the blogosphere,” while Lee Goldberg handed me his (brand-new) digital camera so I could take a picture of him with fiction nominee Daniel Woodrell. Afterwards, we chatted about how neither one of us ever wants to lose the sort of fanboy spirit that compels us to do such things—I managed to surpress it as far as picture-taking was concerned, but the next morning I absolutely had to introduce myself to Rajiv Chandrasekaran and get choked up while telling him how much I admired Imperial Life in the Emerald City… Meanwhile, authors Patricia Heim, Lisa See, and Susan Straight made a quiet conversation nook for themselves in the center of the crowd. (And if you look carefully, you can make out A. Scott Berg in the background.)