New Yorker music critic Alex Ross can
officially tell people he's a genius -- or
rather, a recipient of a genius grant, that is. The
40-year-old openly gay writer has won a MacArthur
Foundation "genius grant."
Considered to be
an expert on classical music, the author of the much
admired 2007 book The Rest is Noise pocketed $500,000
along with the honor. Distributed over five years, the
money has no strings attached.
Ross, one of 25
award recipients, told MediaBistro's FishBowlNY blog
the honor came as a total shock.
market was crashing that day, and a couple of times in the
morning I saw this mysterious call coming in from Chicago,
which seemed ominous," he said. "I thought they were
trying to repossess my cats or something, so I didn't
pick up. Finally [editor] David Remnick tracked me
down at The New Yorker and told me not to move
until the phone rang."
Ross says he
plans to use the award money to take time off during the
writing of his next book and travel for research. He says
that unlike his last book, which was written late into
the night and on breaks from work in coffee shops, the
grant will allow him "more breathing room." (The