Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Heartening News

I am not recommending this book, because I have not read it yet, and Alice Munro stories are not everyone's taste. But I am recommending her spirit. Alice Munro has just been suggested for a major literary prize in Canada, her home country, for a book of short stories called, Too Much Happiness. She has declined to be considered because she says she has won several times and she wants younger authors to have their day in the sun...and obviously to get support from the rather generous prize.

Bravo, Alice Munro! It is a gracious gesture, and a very wise one.

When I started this blog, I made a pact with myself that I would not deal in negatives--or try to settle old scores. I hope this recounting doesn't fall into either category. But it just might and I may have to beat myself with a wet noodle. (At Victoria, "the wet noodle award" meant one had done something not-so-hot and maybe this would be an appropriate punishment for a bit of foolishness.) But Alice Munro's recent decision brought to mind the awards given by ASME--the American Society of Magazine Editors.

Victoria put in for awards--and we never won one. Fair enough. However, as a screener for several years, I became disenchanted with the repeat winners. There are wonderful magazines who deserve their awards, that's for sure. But I always thought that magazines such as The New Yorker and National Geographic were in a category by themselves. To no avail, I suggested a Hall of Fame: Magazines who had won many times could be placed there and perhaps ineligible for yearly awards for a period of time. I didn't have this plan well thought out--it was just a suggestion I thought might be considered. Of course, it wasn't. But I did try. Alice Munro brings to mind that maybe this wasn't such a bad idea after all. Other magazines, even new and young ones, do win ASME awards, but just maybe a gesture like this, like Alice Munro's, would make way for deserving entries. Enough said. And yes, I think Toshi Otsuki should have won awards for his stories on Colette, toile, and many others. (Look for installment one on Toshi soon...)

And now, Old Souls, sit down. Dame Vera Lynn, in her 90's, is the English vocalist who sang such World War II favorites as, The White Cliffs of Dover has had a re-release of an album of her memorable music called Till We Meet Again. It is a number one hit in Britain, outselling all the top rock bands. It was September 1939 when World War II began in Europe--and the Brits are remembering with the inimitable sounds of Vera Lynn. It is currently sold out on Amazon. (I'm pretty smug because I have had Vera Lynn CD's for some years.) These were songs of love of country, love of one another, and hope. Thanks, Vera Lynn, for edging out the noise even for just a little while. (Not that I'm against rock music...)

Hope you enjoyed my heartening news. Do you have some to share? As always, we'd love to hear about it. And by the way, the best award that Victoria ever received was the devoted support of its readers. You can't put that on the wall or bookshelf, but it fits nicely in the heart.


  1. What an amazingly beautiful post. You had me laughing at the "wet noodle" comment. We use that saying around our home quite a bit, too. It is a shame that Victoria never won an award; actually it's a travesty of justice. The sheer number of us who have kept entire collections of it through multiple moves should be proof enough of that. But then, Victoria was not for those who wanted to read about and do what was "popular." Rather, we wanted to partake of all things charming, graceful, beautiful... things that are timeless rather than the fleeting fads of the day. And that is why it has endured all these years. So I really appreciate the spirit with which you wrote this post... and hope that your heart will continue to be filled by all the old and new souls who still find those vintage Victorias to be among their "Favorite Things."


  2. I have never known another magazine where people are still fans so long after it folded. Of course, real Victoria enthusiasts consider the last episode in which you were involved to be the final "real" issue. :)

    Victoria not receiving any awards figures in with what I view most rewards as, anyway... either popularity contests of elite groups or the opposite... the lowest common denominator is rewarded.

  3. Awards do sometimes seem to be more about making statements than recognizing excellence. I guess Victoria just wasn't edgy enough to win prizes. How easy to take the obvious route and choose Nat Geo or The New Yorker. Well, while most people's collections of National Geographic sit getting damp in basements, my Victorias are used nearly daily and look, smell, and read as fresh as when new!


  4. While Nat Geo and The New Yorker are coffee table standards...
    Vera Lynn and our VICTORIA are timeless classics that continue to inspire...

  5. What a lovely thing to say, Nancy. I am glad I am a part of that wonderful group of women who read Victoria faithfully.


  6. I simply cannot wait to read the first installment of the Toshi chronicles--that's what I'd call heartening news! That you are back in the scene and giving us little sneak peeks at the workings of Victoria in her prime, well, that's heartening, too.
    And the commentors here are right...the best award is that our Victorias live on our bedside tables, not in damp basements (bravo, Rita!).
    Here's our award, Nancy..."Magazines that Lift the Heart and Soothe the Spirit Award" goes to Victoria! Long may she reign!

    Waving from the balcony and throwing rose petals,
    Karen Marline

  7. As a Canadian, I'm so proud of Alice was the right thing to do. I wish more people would understand this sometimes. We as a society need learn it's not all about me all the time.

    As a long-time Victoria fan, I'm so pleased to see you start this blog. I've always enjoyed your writing and the special touch you brought to the magazine.


  8. I'm with Karen Marline on this!

    My award would be to Victoria of the Nancy Era for being a "Magazine that Gave Us Hope and Showed us How."

    Mimi in Wisconsin

  9. I'm so delighted to have found this blog!

    My mother subscribed to Victoria for the entire time it was in print, and now subscribes again - although I know she misses the old days quite a bit. I remember being ten or eleven years old and poring through those pages full of muted colors and nostalgic film grain. How lucky I was to have Victoria shape my concept of beauty at such a young age. All those years back, I decided that I wanted to be Toshi Otsuki when I grew up. Now, I'm a wedding photographer, and there isn't much I wouldn't do to have a chat with him.

    My studio office is a cozy room in my home that I like to think is a little bit Victoria-worthy. My mom has been kind enough to share some of her old issues with me, and therefore it's not pages from current wedding magazines that I tack up on my inspiration board; it's photos of brides, fields, shoes, children, and flowers from Victoria that inspire me daily. In my mind, the spirit of Victoria is alive and well, flourishing here in my own home. Each issue of Victoria takes you into another world - a lovelier, kinder, magical world. If I can create that same feeling for my brides when they see their wedding photographs, I've succeeded.

    Nancy, thank you. :)