I got this announcement today from popular historian Jack El-Hai who has a fascinating site, el-hai.com, that focuses on popular history and often links to interesting articles.
Announcing the Winner of the 2021 Damn History Article Award
Last year, I grew frustrated by the scarcity of recognition for writers creatively telling nonfiction history stories for non-academic and non-scholarly readers. So I started the Damn History Article Award to honor an engagingly conceived, thoroughly researched, and superbly written popular-history article published during the previous year. Between March and May 2021, a competitive group of submissions poured in, and a judging team made up of Tim Brady, Anika Fajardo, and Pamela Toler went through them. The judges deliberated and decided on a winner and two recipients of honorable mentions.
The winner of the 2021 Damn History Article Award: “The Improbable Journey of Dorothy Parker’s Ashes” by Laurie Gwen Shapiro, published in The New Yorker, September 4, 2020.
The judges’ comments: “Laurie Gwen Shapiro takes a curious lead and develops it into a rich story with an unexpectedly poignant conclusion. It was like reading one of those long footnotes that becomes more interesting than the book itself.”
Congratulations to Laurie, who receives a $250 gift card from bookshop.org and a genuine certificate of excellence from Damn History.
I was thrilled to talk about my New Yorker article about how I helped bring Dorothy Parker’s ashes back to NY on Malachy’s WBAI show with John McDonagh – you can listen to the archive here. I come in about 30 minutes in and we chat about all sorts of things for 40 minutes so bring a cup of coffee.
Listen now on WBAI.org.
The Improbable Journey of Dorothy Parker’s Ashes
On February 6, 1965, Dorothy Parker signed her last will and testament in her small suite at the Volney Hotel, on East Seventy-fourth Street, in Manhattan. A friend named Pauline Kraft signed as a witness, as did an employee at the Volney named Richard M. Moyer. Parker’s French poodle, Troy—short for Troisième, because she was the third of her litter—was by her side. Her second husband, the writer and actor Alan Campbell, had died two years earlier, of an overdose of alcohol and barbiturates. Parker was seventy-one, small and thin with big dark eyes, and suffered from a weak heart, bursitis, and reduced eyesight. Widowed, with no heirs, she had spent months mulling what to do with her estate. After her debts were paid, her assets amounted to some twenty thousand dollars, but her estate also included future royalties and licensing fees for her body of literary work, which was substantial.
Read the full story at NewYorker.com
My second piece for The New Yorker is about a mod 13-year-old named Alice de Rivera who took on Stuyvesant High in 1969. She’s as awesome at 63 as she was at 13. There’s even a Jimi Hendrix cameo!
Check it out at NewYorker.com