ECU graduate wins Pulitzer Prize
(Apr. 6, 2004)
East Carolina University graduate Dan Neil this week won a 2004 Pulitzer Prize for criticism for his weekly column in the Los Angeles Times.
Neil, 44, graduated from the university in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in English. In his weekly column, Rumble Seat, Neil addresses the history, humor, politics and emotions behind automobiles.
The Pulitzer Board wrote that the $10,000 prize was awarded to Neil for his "one-of-a-kind reviews of automobiles, blending technical expertise with offbeat humor and astute cultural observations."
A native of New Bern, Neil is known for his criticism of large, gas-consuming vehicles and advocacy of small, efficient ones.
"The more indignation the better," he said of the feedback he receives. "I have no sympathy whatsoever on people on the other side of the debate."
But the writer, who has spent stints as a contributing editor to various publications, including The New York Times, Car and Driver Magazine News and Observer, said he does urge satisfaction with one's vehicle. "My view is that you should drive whatever it is you love," he said.
And his love is his 1960 MGA. "It's a poor man's Jaguar, a connoisseur's choice," he said. "For someone that really wants to be involved in driving, it's you and the car 100 percent."
Ten columns were submitted to the Pulitzer board for consideration. Included in the review mix are vehicles as varied as the $320,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom ("Man, this thing is ugly"), the Nissan Pathfinder Armada ("the Double Whopper with Cheese of SUVs") and the Toyota Prius ("Toyota's spark of genius").
Neil is the second East Carolina University graduate to win a Pulitzer Prize in two years. Last year, Rick Atkinson, won for history for his book, "An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943."
Neil's winning columns can be viewed at www.pulitzer.org.