The winners of this year's Los Angeles Times Book Prizes write about irreconcilable differences--the difference between Blackfoot and White Man (James Welch), between Anglo and Latino (Paul Horgan), between German and Jew (Robert Jay Lifton), between Life and Non-life (Richard Dawkins), between Male and Female in a writer's mind (Kenneth S. Lynn), between Art and Nature in a painter's career (William Meredith). At the end of each book (even at the end of Horgan's oeuvre), the differences may remain unreconciled, and yet a unity has become imaginable that was unimaginable at the start. When Hazard, a painter, the central character in a sequence of William Meredith's poems, visits the Natural History Museum, Meredith writes:
We descend by chosen cells that are not lost
though they wander off in streams and rivulets.
Not everyone has issue in this creation.
Cousins-german are everywhere in the shale
and marshes under this dry house. In slime, in sperm,
our living cousins grow. A cold harmony this, perhaps, but on a coast, along a fault, near a border, after a stock market crash, a mysteriously satisfying one.
The Robert Kirsch Award for a body of work by a writer living in or writing on the American West.