So I arrived at my first board meeting with a California-sized chip on my shoulder. I was shocked and not a little humbled to find that people whose reviews I’d sneered at were not only warm, welcoming, generous, and open, but funny, unpretentious, and wore their sometimes vast knowledge like a baseball cap. I spent a lot of time sitting back and listening. It was good talk. There was a lot of vehemence, and a lot of doubt—about the value of this or that book, but more so about the value of giving awards, of the parameters of what could be considered and what couldn’t or shouldn’t be, about whether we had the right, or the judgment, to render judgments—which no one seemed hesitant to voice. At the same time we might have been negotiating a bill regulating the banking industry: there was horse-trading, secret deals, promises of favors to be repaid next time around, all over the place. Anything to block that horrible corny novel of Wasp manners! I missed it all as soon as I left.
Critical Mass: The Blog of the National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors, September 30, 2009