After reading these excerpts from this year's three Pulitzer fiction nominees...
Past the flannel plains and the blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust, and past the tobacco-brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight through them on the water downriver, to the place beyond the windbreak, where untilled fields simmer shrilly in the a.m. heat: shattercane, lamb's-quarter, cutgrass, sawbrier, nutgrass, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, foxtail, muscatine, spinecabbage, goldenrod, creeping charlie, butter-print, nightshade, ragweed, wild oat, vetch, butcher grass, invaginate volunteer beans, all head gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother's soft hand on your cheek.
All his life Robert Grainier would remember vividly the burned valley at sundown, the most dreamlike business he'd ever witnessed waking - the brilliant pastels of the last light overhead, some clouds high and white, catching daylight from beyond the valley, others ribbed and gray and pink, the lowest of them rubbing the peaks of Bussard and Queen mountains; and beneath this wondrous sky the black valley, utter still, the train moving through it making a great noise but unable to wake this dead world.
Nights in the swamp were dark and star-lepered - our island was thirty-odd miles from the mainland - and although your naked eye could easily find the ball of Venus and the sapphire hairs of the Pleiades, our mother's body was just lines, a smudge against the palm trees.
...I would say that not only was the Pulitzer board justified in declining to name a winner, but would also have been justified in slapping the jurors upside the head. Okay, Denis Johnson's excerpt is alright, but both Wallace's and Russell's are horribly pretentious, bloviated writing. If the board was at fault for anything, it was for not asking the jury for a fourth nominee - which clearly was needed.