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Monday, June 30, 2008

Words, words everywhere, but not a book in sight

Journalist David Samuels' collection of essays, extended and short, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, was published earlier this year. It is written, appropriately for Samuels' profession, in a terse style, but with felicitous and Menckian choices of phrase.

Samuels has described journalism, his career, as "the mongrel art of writing literature on deadline." (Would we bloggers, then, be the feral alleycats of journalism?)

The Brewers Association (you knew I would veer back to beer) annually recognizes "outstanding media coverage that increases beer drinkers' understanding of the diversity and flavor of American craft beer." It honors short forms in consumer print media, consumer electronic media, and trade and specialized beer and brewing media.

But it ignores the longer forms — books.

Michael Jackson, our beer Samuel Johnson, was first and foremost a writer of books, of beer literature. Should not an award named for him —the Michael Jackson Beer Journalism Awardsalso recognize those whose beer writings are indeed books?

Bob Skilnik, an author of two books on beer, asks just this question at his blog.

Looking at the the Michael Jackson Beer Journalism Awards handed out in the last few years by the Brewers Association, [I see that] there really is no category for books and I find this an odd oversight.<...>

Why are books, works of considerable research and effort, ignored over 1,000-word articles?<...>

Somehow, I think Jackson would even question this program in its current form; “The Michael Jackson Beer Journalism awards is the only program of its kind. The contest allows the craft beer community to acknowledge, reward and thank journalists who feature craft beer.” Except for book authors.

If the Brewers Association can't help, Bob suggests creating a separate award for books- on-beer, as there once had been. Read more here.

I think it's a good idea. Whether few or many, words written well, in furtherance of our thing called beer, should be treasured and nurtured.

Of course Bob Skilnik would like the recognition for his books, as any author should. But his point is valid: why does the Brewers Association fail to honor beer literature?

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