Monday, April 30, 2012

Great Movie Theme Songs

New Books in the House

We hit a used book sale at a mall in Michigan with 10,000 books for sale. I would have bought more if I hadn't set a limit. Although no interesting crime fiction I hadn't read despite crawling under the table to look in boxes. Someday I will learn how to arrange pictures neatly on my blog.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Night Music: Skeeter Davis

Stories about a Journey

Or a road trip. Reading the excellent THE EDGE OF DARK WATER (Lansdale) right now and a few months back, I read Bonnie Jo Campbell's equally good, ONCE UPON A RIVER. I guess THE ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN began this sort of journey in America but I am sure earlier or contemporaneous writers--well perhaps Thoreau at least--took their readers on a journey.

What is your favorite story where the character(s) took a trip? Who used this vehicle (no pun intended) best?

Friday, April 27, 2012

National Poetry Month: Dylan Thomas

The Summing Up, Friday April 27, 2012

My review of the excellent Monsieur Lazhar can be found at Crimespree Cinema.

Patti Abbott, Ball Four, Jim Bouton
Sergio Angelini, The Tiger Among Us, Leigh Brackett
Joe Barone, Now and Then, Robert B. Parker
Brian Busby, Leo Orenstein
Bill Crider, The Silent Gondoliers, William Goldman
Scott Cupp, RGK, The Art of Ray Krenkel
Martin Edwards, Nemesis at Raifnham, J.J. Connington
Ed Gorman, American Murders, Jon and Rita Breen
Jerry House, Prime Suspect, ed. Bill Pronzini and Martin Greenberg
Randy Johnson, The Hanging Tree and Other Stories,
George Kelley, Five Novels of the 1940s and 1950s, David Goodis
Margot Kinberg, The Shape of Water, Andrea Camilleri
B.V. Lawson, The Moving Toyshop, Edmund Crispin
Evan Lewis, Jimgrin and Aldah's Peace. Talbot Mundy
Steve Lewis, Relentless Gun, Giles a Lutz
Todd Mason, The Best of the West, ed. Joe R. Lansdale
J.F. Norris, The Room Upstairs, Mildred Davis
David Rachels, Scorpions Reef, Charles Williams
James Reasoner, Marching Sands, Harold A. Lamb
Gerard Saylor, Winning Can Be Murder, Bill Crider
Ron Scheer, The Story of Mary MacLane, Mary MacLane
Bill Selnes, Meltdown, Martin Baker
Kerrie Smith, Rumpole a La Carte, John Mortimer
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, Instruments of Night, Thomas H. Cook
TomCat, The Emperor's Snuffbox, John Dickson Carr
Prashant C. Trikannad, Beyond the Black Stump, Nevil Shute
Wuthering Willow, The After House, Mary Roberts Rinehart
Zybahn, The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara (and an exploration of years without Pulitzer Prizes)

Friday Forgotten Books, April 27, 2012

Friday's Forgotten Books is four years old this week!!! Thanks to all the people who have made it possible. I especially want to thank Bill Crider who has written a review every week for four years. That's 208 reviews. I remember still my surprise the second week we did this when he posted a second review. I never expected anyone to do it more than once. And I didn't expect it to last more than a few months.

Thanks also to Todd Mason who helps me when I am away either physically or mentally. And thanks to all the folks below--some of whom stand right behind Bill in the number of reviews they have done.
I didn't dream what devotion the people listed below have. I estimate we have reviewed in excess of 4000 books in those four years. On a personal note, I have enjoyed the people I have met in the real and virtual worlds though this and other projects. You guys are the best.

Friday, June 1 is Margaret Millar Day. Everyone is invited to write a review of her work.

Ed Gorman is the author of the Sam McCain series and the Dev Conrad series as well as multiple anthologies and westerns. You can find him here.

American Murders ed. by Jon and Rita Breen(no cover found)

Literary time travel

One of my fondest memories of growing up was reading the magazines my folks subscribed to. The Saturday Evening Post was great for western short stories and The American was even better for mysteries. To name just two.

In 1986 Jon and Rita Breen edited a fine anthology called American Murders which reprinted 11 short novels from the American Magazine(1934-1954). By now I've probably read and reread it cover to cover four or five times. For me it's literary time travel.

My favorites are those short novels published during the war years. I suppose this is true because they tally with my first memories of--everything. Dads abroad at war, Moms struggling with jobs and kids and ration books and the fear of a uniformed man knocking on the door with bad news. And popular culture of every sort vibrant and vital with propaganda.

One of the great war-time images in the Breen anthology occurs in "Murder Goes To Market" by Mignon Eberhardt. She writes of going shopping with her ration book to a then-new concept known as a Supermarket. The way she describes this place is almost science-fictional. My God--aisles! Shopping carts "that look like perabulators!" And the choice of "(carrying) your loot away in a paper bag or in a market basket or (letting) a boy carry it for you." Zounds!

This reminds me of the way John D. MacDonald highlighted air-conditioning so often in his pulps stories of the Forties and his early paperbacks of the Fifties. A revolution was at hand!

F. Paul Wilson once noted that detective stories give us "snapshots" of an era better than any other kind of fiction. I certainly agree.

llow authors who knew him and his work. Extraordinary!”
Patti Abbott
Ball Four, Jim Bouton
This wa
s a book that was read and reread at our house thirty years ago. My son adored it and so did I. It was the first book about baseball that gave an accurate depiction of what went on in the clubhouse, what the players' lives were like, the finances of the game, the pressures put on players, the drugs, the womanizing.

Bouton recounted his year as a pitcher on the Seattle Pilots in 1969--the team's only year of play. It was a tumultuous year for the country as well and Bouton doesn't hesitate to give his views on everything.

Bowie Kuhn called the book detrimental to the game because it blew the fairy dust off. He tried to force Bouton to sign a statement saying the book was fictional, a baseball version of M*A*S*H.

Baseball players also came down hard on him. Pete Rose, that noble player, swore at him whenever he took the mound.

It was not a good year for Bouton on the field, and he is honest about that too. This was one of the great books about sports. That dogeared copy is one book I won't give away.

Sergio Angelini
Yvette Banek
Joe Barone
Brian Busby
Bill Crider
Scott Cupp
Martin Edwards
Jerry House
Randy Johnson
George Kelley
Margot Kinberg
B.V. Lawson
Evan Lewis
Steve Lewis
Todd Mason
J.F. Norris
David Rachels
James Reasoner
Gerard Saylor
Ron Scheer
Bill Selnes
Kerrie Smith
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang
Prashant C. Trikannad
Wuthering Willow

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Life at the Theater: THE RIDE DOWN MT. MORGAN

This was one of Arthur Miller's last plays and we saw it in Ann Arbor at the Performance Network in 2000. It concerned a bigamist, whose two wives confront each other when he is injured in a skying accident. The Performance Network is a lovely venue for plays-small, intimate and the quality is excellent.

As usual, Miller has meat in his plays although this was lighter than most. This played on Broadway with Patrick Stewart, who I imagine would be excellent. It was nominated for some Tonys too.

Never regret a Miller play and we will be seeing Death in two weeks from tonight with Philip Seymour Hoffman!

Film Noir for sale from Warner Archives

Hat tip to my friend Anthony Ambrogio who loves film noir as much as we do.

The Warner Archive features "made-to-order" DVDs -- not pressed but burned individually. Their prices are not as good as someplace like Deep Discount (but they offer titles that often can't be found anywhere else, and they sometimes have sales).

Phil's April Garden


Nigel Bird talks about my poem Articulating Space for the 5-2 poetry tour. He is too kind as always.

We just watched again the first series from PRIME SUSPECT (1992) and were once again blown away by how good it was. Amazing considering you were pretty sure who the perpetrator was from the first minutes of the show. It strengths, of course, was first of all Mirren, creating an iconic character from the start. It was a top-notch script that played it straight-telling the story in a linear fashion. You always knew where you were. The script gave you just enough of her personal life to bring her alive. You could see what she was up against given the times and give her personality.

It was filmed brilliantly, with lots of great shots that seem cutting-edge even now. Montages of police work were especially powerful. I can't think of a better police drama before or since. Do you remember it?

Who else seized a recurring role from the first moment?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jack Johnson on a Wednesday


As so often seems to be the case , a network show that initially appeared to be more creative than the usual fare has turned out to be the same old stuff. We rarely watch network TV nowadays, but I like Jason Issac from BROTHERHOOD, so I gave this one a whirl.

A brief synopsis: a cop wakes up from a car crash to find his son is dead; when he goes to sleep again, he wakes up in another reality where it is his wife who died. Each reality gives him a different shrink to wade his way through this morass and a different partner. There are also intimations of a deeper conspiracy.

Except...the show spends almost no time on this premise. Instead we get to watch him solve two cases each week And the cases are no more interesting than the ones on a dozen cop shows. Less even. We can spot the villain a mile away. Twice each show.

Now why create an interesting arc and give it almost no attention. Five minute out of each forty explore the arc. Cops have become the dullest people on earth.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday Night Music: Tindersticks

Opening Lines

"I don't know what to do about my husband's new wife."

Is that a great opening line or what? When I read it, a story flew into my head entirely different than the one that Molly Giles wrote in her story "Pie Dance." She is a terrific writer and did a great job with this surprising story though. Mine may not be nearly as good as hers, but it will be quite different.

So I'm going to write that story. I don't think stealing a first line is verboten.

So here's an idea if not a real challenge because it's been too soon. (Although I am afraid I will forget this idea if I wait). Pick a great opening line to someone's novel or story and write a completely different story. You don't even have to read the original work. Just steal the first line.

In the meantime, what are some of the great opening lines? Maybe I can get more ideas for stories from you.


This is it. The TV show that defined my youth. I adored everything about it. Based on a novel by Max Shulman and coming off a movie in the early fifties, it centered on the amorous desires of a teenager named Dobie Gillis, played perfectly by Dwayne Hickman. I am sure I have talked about this here before, but....

It was a tricky part for Hickman because he had to be lascivious yet still likable. The love of his life was played by Tuesday Weld (Thalia Menninger). Dobie's parents owned a grocery store and a common plot line was avoiding his job there. Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver) was his friend, a beatnik.

Dobie spent a lot of time pondering his life in direct conversation with the audience. His intentions were noble--it was love and romance he was after, not sex. Or so I thought at age ten.
Filmed in black and white, its sets were primitive but its words were lofty. Good show.

For more remembrances of forgotten movies, see Todd Mason.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Great Movie Theme Songs


The dictionary defines a crank as someone with odd or strange ideas. But beyond that, a crank needs to constantly air those ideas, obsess over them. Phil is doing an article on cranks--his are political cranks, of course, and no one we have heard of.

Who are some famous cranks? Does everyone have it in them to be a crank should the right cause rear its head. What do you come closest to being a crank about? Does a crank cease being a crank if you agree with them? Does a crank whose issue is solved find a new issue or does he fade away?

Is Al Gore a crank because he's obsessively worried about the environment?
Is Ron Paul a crank because he is obsessively interested in downsizing government?

Looks like Margaret Millar beat Agatha Christie. How about Friday, June 1st? Perhaps next we'll go Simenon in mid-July. He came in second last time.
And Christie, late August?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Night Music-Deep Blue Something

What Are You Reading?

On meeting a friend the other night, he said, "Oh, I know you're going to ask me, what I'm reading, aren't you?" Yep.

I guess I pretty much always ask people who I know read that question.

I always wonder what great books I might be missing.

What are you reading?

Me: EDGE OF DARK WATER, Joe Lansdale, and Peter Ackroyd's SHAKESPEARE, THE BIOGRAPHY (audio).

This a new blogger today so be prepared for issues as I have not learned how to navigate it and I see some comments are not turning up. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

National Poetry Month: Langston Hughes

The Summing Up, Friday, April 20, 2012

The Summing Up, Friday, April 20, 2012 (thanks to Todd)">Yvette Banek: The Joshua Croft books by Walter Satterthwait">Scott Cupp: Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies by Jerry Beck and Bill Friedwald">Martin Edwards: The Case of the Chinese Gong by Christopher Bush">Elizabeth Grace Foley: Old Rose and Silver by Myrtle Reed">Ed Gorman: The Great American Paperback by Richard Lupoff">George Kelley: To Ride the Star Winds by A. Bertram Chandler">Steve Lewis: Daddy's Gone A-Hunting by Robert Skinner">Todd Mason: Vanity Fair edited by Cleveland Amory and Frederic Bradlee; picture editor: Katherine Tweed">John F. Norris: Murder in the Moor by Thomas Kindon">David Rachels: Nothing in Her Way by Charles Williams">Richard Robinson: The Deep Range by Arthur C. Clarke">Gerard Saylor: Run, Boy, Run by Uri Orlev (translated by Hillel Halkin)">Bill Selnes: Involuntary Witness by Gianrico Carofiglio">"TomCat": The Blushing Monkey by Roman McDougald

Friday's Forgotten Books, April 20, 2012

The Summing Up probably won't go up until tomorrow. I'll be gone most of today.

Continental Drift, Russell Banks.

It is hard for me to choose between AFFLICTION and CONTINENTAL DRIFT as my favorite novel by Russell Banks. But I am going with this one today. You may have seen the filmed version of AFFLICTION, a tremendous film with Nick Nolte and James Coburn.

Bob Dubois is a furnace repairman in a blue-collar town in New Hampshire, a state the American Dream has bypassed. Although Bob has a wife, three kids and a steady, if low-paying job, he is persuaded to look for a better life in Miami by his brother.

Bob is a good man although not a smart one. The sixties has persuaded him that there is something better out there. That it is foolish to be satisfied with a meager living in a depressed town.

Another character is also seeking a better life in Miami. A female Haitian refuge, who truly does need asylum and comes to the U.S. in a perilous manner. These two lives intersect in a Florida that is the antithesis of paradise, both characters suffering tragedy. This is not a happy book or one to escape into, but it is one that presents characters and situations that seem real and compelling.

Ed Gorman is the author of the Dev Conrad and Sam McCain series of crime novels. He blogs at

Forgotten Books: The Great American Paperback by Richard Lupoff

Penzler Pick, October 2001: There may be some irony in the notion that a book devoted to paperbacks (the most inexpensive book format--small, easily transportable and disposable) is a huge, expensive, beautifully produced hardcover volume that is certain to be a gem in any collector's library.
For several centuries books in America customarily were pages bound between hardcovers and, in this century, had dust jackets wrapped around them, initially just to protect the cloth covers, but eventually as an attention-grabbing advertising poster.
In 1938, an experiment was launched. The cloth cover was exchanged for a paper one, and the colorful illustration and information that appeared on the dust jacket (author, title, publisher, a few lines about the book) was printed directly onto those paper covers. Cheaper paper was used, since these artifacts were no longer expected to form part of a permanent library, but were to be as disposable as a newspaper or magazine. And they were cheap: a 25-cent price made books affordable for a huge portion of the population. They became immeasurably successful almost overnight.
Today many of those books are highly sought-after collectors' items. In spite of the huge numbers printed, they are scarce now simply because almost no one ever thought to save them in colorful, pristine condition. The Great American Paperback illustrates in glorious full color more than 600 of the most interesting and collectable paperbacks, each with an informative caption that provides as much fascinating anecdotal information as the text, which is a masterly and scholarly history of the American paperback, tracing its roots to the early 19th century and concluding with a look at the future.
There are samples of the paperback originals of Ed McBain, Richard Stark, Jim Thompson, Harlan Ellison, and James M. Cain, as well as illustrations of such rarities asThe Maltese Falcon, which was issued as a paperback with a dust jacket, and Ellery Queen's Halfway House, which was offered in two formats by the publisher, one bound the usual way, the other bound at the top edge.
If this massive work hadn't been produced in Hong Kong, it would have cost twice as much and is, believe it or not, a bargain, even at a price as hefty as the book itself. --OttoPenzler

Ed here: Dick Lupoff has distinguished himself as a writer of both mystery and science fiction and fantasy. He has also been and editor and biographer of great renown. I first heard of him when he and his lovely wife Pat began publishing the legendary science fiction/comic book XERO back in the early 1960s. If you'd like to know (or remember) what genre fiction as all about in that lost age I suggest you but the hardbound collection of XERO's including Donald E.Westlake'sscorching goodbye to his science fiction career.
But this magnificent history--because it's nothing less--of paperbacks books in America would be enough to make you well known and respected. The covers are knock-outs and the text is packed with stories and tales of writers andeditors and publishers are told with Dick's usual wit, high style and erudition.
There are many books about paperbacks but I can't think of any that come even close to this sprawling, hilarious, melancholy, fact-packed tribute to the highs and lows of American publishing.
This is a singular accomplishment and Dick Lupoff should be honored for it.

Serge Angelini
Yvette Banek
Joe Barone
Brian Busby
Bill Crider
Scott Cupp
Martin Edwards
Elisabeth Grace Foley
Jerry House
Randy Johnson
George Kelley
Margot Kinberg
B.V. Lawson
Evan Lewis
Steve Lewis
Todd Mason
J.F. Norris
David Rachels
James Reasoner
Richard Robinson
Gerard Saylor
Ron Scheer
Bill Selnes
Kerrie Smith
Kevin Tipple
Wuthering Willow

Thursday, April 19, 2012


It looks like we saw this in 2000 at the Comedy Theater in London although I don't remember being in London in 2000. So we may have seen it later or earlier.
Or perhaps I am forgetting a trip.
It was a one-person play and Callow was excellent both at playing Dickens and playing characters from his novels.
Apparently, Dickens did this himself for years, nearly killing himself in the process.

I always think I won't like one person plays, but I always do.

Visiting My Grandparents

Lynnewood Gardens

I recently read a story about a girl visiting her grandparents and liked the idea of writing about visiting mine. My grandfather would have been 114 this week. This remembrance just covers the years I knew them.

The years before are worthy of a noir novel. I kid you not.

From 1941 until about 1953, my grandparents, Clarence (Chick) and Dorothy (Dot) lived at Oak Terrace Country Club in Ambler, PA, where my grandfather was the manager, a job that had belonged to my father until he was drafted. This caused some tension between them over the years.

During their years at Oak Terrace, my grandmother didn't have to cook at all. She got to serve as a sort of Grande Dame, which suited her perfectly. The owner of the Club was the husband of her best friend, which worked out well too. She was able to dress for all of her meals, served in the main dining room or on the terrace. She greeted other diners, sitting at the head table.

But things changed when I was five (no one ever told me why) and my grandfather returned to architecture, a profession that never earned him much of a living. They moved to Lynnewood Gardens in Elkins Park, Pa, about fifteen minutes away from us. He specialized in designing churches and synagogues.

Unlike grandparents today (ahem!), my grandmother was stricter than my parents. I would usually stay for a few days and was expected to entertain myself without getting dirty or breaking things. I was expected to keep my nails clean, my hair combed. My brother's visits were usually separate from mine since their place was so small.

The good thing about Lynnewood Gardens was that it had a lot more open space than our row house in Philly. It also had play areas for kids. It was here that my grandfather taught me how to pump a swing. We also spent a lot of time looking for four-leaf clovers. We both liked to roll down the huge hill that ended at the playground. He was a rotund man who most often wore Bermuda shorts, socks and sandals. He liked to sit on the floor and if urged, he would draw for me.

At dinner, he ate a small dish of canned French peas with the rest of his meal every night. I never saw the attraction and wasn't made to eat them. Their apartment had just one bedroom and I slept on a daybed in the living room. The shadows on the wall at night were different from the ones at home and no one would get me water if I yelled. They pointed out they were too old to have their sleep disturbed. I could tell this was true by their joint snoring.

His favorite dessert was a Duncan Hines spice cake with chocolate icing. Dinner was unfailingly a piece of meat, a potato of some kind and a vegetable. Although my grandmother was a better cook than my mother, it was a close race.

The only books in their apartment were the Readers Digest Condensed books although my grandfather held a master's degree from Columbia University. They both liked to play cards and we would do that at night as I got a bit older. My grandmother made beautiful clothes (by hand) for my dolls. My grandfather encouraged me to talk about adult things. We never left the apartment complex that I can remember. When I visited, it was there I stayed.

Their favorite TV shows were Gunsmoke, Perry Mason, and Bonanza. In the daytime, my grandmother watched THE EDGE OF NIGHT, and an ongoing argument until my mother went back to work, was which was better that or THE GUIDING LIGHT.

When they moved into the apartment, they had no furniture so they bought it all new. It was the mid-century look that's become popular again today and I have some of it still. They liked to have parties and serve highballs and dance. Those country club days were never far away.

My grandfather died of a heart attack in 1960. They were returning from the movie PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES. I was home watching THE TWILIGHT ZONE-the one where Burgess Meredith breaks his glasses at the end.

After that my grandmother lived down the street from us for eight years before marrying again. Although it was one block away and she was only in her fifties, no one ever thought of her walking down the street to visit us. Someone always picked her up. Still the grande dame.

Was visiting your grandparents similar to this?

Brian Busby Shortlisted

Our good friend, Brian Busby, who contributes to FFB and writes an enjoyable and erudite blog, has been honored:

The Association for Canadian and Quebec Literatures (ACQL) is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2011 Gabrielle Roy Prize (English Section), which each year honours the best work of Canadian literary criticism published in English. This year’s shortlisted finalists (in alphabetical order) are Brian Busby for A Gentleman of Pleasure: One Life of John Glassco, Poet, Memoirist, Translator, and Pornographer (McGill-Queen’s UP), You can find it here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Neruda-National Poetry Month

5-2 Poetry, Gerald So, editor

5-2 Crime Poetry Week is the brainchild of Gerald So.

And this is National Poetry Month so the timing is fitting.

Chad Haskins


I forgot how deep
the shallow grave was.

The photograph
is light and heavy
in my trembling hand.

There we are together:
A reminder of
what once was.
What did you do, precious baby,
to get your daddy to hold you
cheek to cheek?

Look at the pride in his eyes,
chin high
beneath a glowing smile,

embracing you
with both arms;
he can’t get close enough.

How did you
fuck that up?

I love this poem from start to finish. The first line brilliantly sets up the dilemma here: that a parents' grave can be both shallow and deep because of the intensity of his/her bonds with their child. In this case, the bonds have been severed and the child takes all the blame, chastising himself for ruining the relationship. Clearly he wants to return to the time when the parent was proud of him, treasured him.

The adult addresses the infant in the photograph, hoping the warning is heeded, but knowing it cannot be and is almost jealous that he once evoked such love.

Here Chad is reading his poem.

P.S DEADLY TREATS, a Halloween anthology Theresa Weir put together for last fall in a print edition, is now available free today as an ebook. My story, The Angel Deeb, is one of them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday Night Music: My One and Only Love

Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction Since 1948

There was no Pulitzer Prize awarded in fiction this year. I dislike this seldom- practiced option. That a panel of judges finds no book up to their standards is both hooey and narcissistic.

Should there ever be no Pulitzer awarded in fiction? Is it really possible that no book was good enough to win? What books written in 2011 stood out? Of course, genre books are off the table. None have won. LONESOME DOVE is probably the closest winner.

How many of the books below have you read? I have read quite a few and all of them were excellent for me. Oddly, the 2010 award is the only novel I haven't even heard of.


2012 No award

2011 A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Alfred A.. Knopf)
2010 Tinkers by Paul Harding (Bellevue Literary Press)

2009 Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)2008 The Brief Wondrous Life of 2008 Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Riverhead Books

2007 The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Alfred A. Knopf)

2006 March by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)
2005 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar)
2004 The Known World by Edward P. Jones (Amistad/ HarperCollins)
2003 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar)
2002 Empire Falls by Richard Russo (Alfred A. Knopf)
2001 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (Random House)
2000 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin)
1999 The Hours by Michael Cunningham (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
1998 American Pastoral by Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin)
1997 Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser (Crown)
1996 Independence Day by Richard Ford (Alfred A. Knopf)
1995 The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (Viking)
1994 The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (Charles Scribner's Sons)
1993 A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler (Henry Holt)
1992 A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley (Alfred A. Knopf)
1991 Rabbit At Rest by John Updike (Alfred A. Knopf)
1990 The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos (Farrar)
1989 Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (Alfred A. Knopf)
1988 Beloved by Toni Morrison (Alfred A. Knopf)
1987 A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor (Alfred A. Knopf)
1986 Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster)
1985 Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie (Random House)
1984 Ironweed by William Kennedy (Viking)
1983 The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Harcourt Brace)
1982 Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike (Knopf)
1981 A Confederacy of Dunces by the late John Kennedy Toole (a posthumous publication) (Louisiana State U. Press)
1980 The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer (Little)
1979 The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever (Knopf)
1978 Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson (Atlantic Monthly Press)
1977 (No Award)
1976 Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow (Viking)
1975 The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (McKay)
1974 (No Award)
1973 The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty (Random)
1972 Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (Doubleday)
1971 (No Award)
1970 Collected Stories by Jean Stafford (Farrar)
1969 House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday (Harper)
1968 The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron (Random)
1967 The Fixer by Bernard Malamud (Farrar)
1966 Collected Stories by Katherine Anne Porter (Harcourt)
1965 The Keepers Of The House by Shirley Ann Grau (Random)
1964 (No Award)
1963 The Reivers by William Faulkner (Random)
1962 The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor (Little)
1961 To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Lippincott)
1960 Advise and Consent by Allen Drury (Doubleday)
1959 The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor (Doubleday)
1958 A Death In The Family by the late James Agee (a posthumous publication) (McDowell, Obolensky)
1957 (No Award)
1956 Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor (World)
1955 A Fable by William Faulkner (Random)
1954 (No Award)
1953 The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (Scribner)
1952 The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk (Doubleday)
1951 The Town by Conrad Richter (Knopf)
1950 The Way West by A. B. Guthrie (Sloane)
1949 Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens (Harcourt)
1948 Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener