The Jump Artist Redux

24 Mar

Last year I was impressed with Austin Ratner’s debut novel The Jump Artist (Bellevue Literary Press). Apparently, the Jewish Book Council was also—awarding Ratner the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature in fiction. It is nice to be acknowledged, Its also nice to pocket 100 large.

Hey, I am not above doing a little investigative journalism here ( as opposed to just making stuff up) so I asked Austin Ratner how it felt to win something. His response:

I was just reading Winnie the Pooh to my younger son, the chapter “In Which Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole” and when Eeyore realizes the expedition is over and they have found the pole–and it’s only a tree branch–he’s not sure if this was a successful outing or not, but he rates it a success because at least “it didn’t rain.” Eeyore is a donkey after my own heart with those low expectations of his. That said, I admit that over the last few weeks, I succumbed to an irresistible hope that I might win this incredible prize. And I did. A great feeling. I’ve certainly experienced plenty of the other feelings available to writers, and I’m glad to be feeling this instead.

Of course, The Jump Artist was then and this is now. Thus my inquiry on what we might expect next from young Austin:

I recently finished a novel about two brothers on a road-trip from L.A. to Cleveland in the summer of 1999, and I’m currently at work on another, very different, sort of work about a labyrinth. These next two works have darkness in them, but they also have more humor than The Jump Artist, even though I personally think The Jump Artistcan be pretty funny here and there.

It should not go unmentioned that the teeny, tiny Bellevue Literary Press also published Paul Harding’s Pulitzer Prize winning Tinkers.

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