Last week the Nobel Prize for Literature was announced, and, as happens nearly every year, when I read the winner’s name, I felt stupid. As a former English teacher, I suspect that I read as much as the average person, and I try to stay current with what’s going on in the world of literature, but my reaction to hearing the name of the Nobel winner is almost always, “Who?” (On a list of the past 20 winners, I recognized five names, and one of those was Bob Dylan, who doesn’t count because everyone knows him – and many of them think he should never have received a Nobel anyway.)

I have the same problem when watching “Jeopardy” every evening. I yell out the answers to questions about 20th century celebrities and events, but when they concern more recent things like rap artists and computer games, I become slack jawed and silent. I wonder if the professionals in the other Nobel Prize categories have a similar reaction. Does a professional chemist, for instance, on reading about the winner in chemistry, think, “I never heard of him or his accomplishment.”

Chuck Avery is a retired teacher who grew up in Connersville's Bucktown neighborhood.