Saturday, October 10

telling the future

I haven't done this before, ever, in all my years of following the Tournament of Books. but after listening to this episode of So Many Damn Books last week, I thought I'd sit down and force myself to guess.

the left-hand side of the bracket seemed easier, somehow. I've read fewer of the books on that half. but most of them have rather striking reputations. 

Cloud Atlas was sure to win (and it did, as I predicted).

I hoped The Road would lose, mostly out of spite (though I am no fan of the Diaz novel either). Carolyn Kellogg's judgement review yesterday was most refreshing to read. the trickiness of separating art from artist and the ethos and value of each... it will always be tricky, I imagine.   

I am still only halfway through Toni Morrison's A Mercy, and I simply cannot seem to find my way into enjoying Wolf Hall, at least not in ebook form. there is so much beauty in the former. my reading brain keeps getting lost in it. I hope to finish it this weekend, and I suppose I could always amend my predictions once I do... but... given the undeniable popularity of Mantel's historical fiction, sustained even further by the third book's recent release, I expect Wolf Hall to make it at least to the second round. but I could be very wrong! 

as for the right-hand side... I've read all but one of these books by now. I have five more days to devour The Good Lord Bird before it faces The Orphan Master's Son. we'll see if I make it. if all else fails, there is a television series of it now. would it be cheating to watch an episode of that and call it good?

anyway, on this side of the bracket I went with the books I liked the most of each match. it's been a while since I read Station Eleven, but it was so lovely and possibly even more relevant and necessary to the world we have here in 2020 than the world we had in 2014. I think that will give it a good chance.

I left the center championship match slots empty. there is so little chance that my earlier bracket choices are accurate, it seemed far too wild a commitment to guess the final winners.

A Visit from the Goon Squad I've read too recently. the zombie system of this particular tournament is so unlike the usual system. I haven't read Freedom (though I remember enjoying Franzen in small doses, way back). All the Light We Cannot See was lovely also, but I don't think it has quite enough depth to overcome its old rival.

what is the outcome I'm hoping for?

do I want Station Eleven to win? 



it feels like I ought to update my notes from my last Tournament of Books post, so here I go:

The Accidental, by Ali Smith
the climax here was somehow given the perfect shape and balance-- not too dramatic, not underwhelming, strange and unexpected, but not unbelievable. the ending itself felt a little stretched and more ambiguous than it needed to be, I thought. (my goodreads review here)

A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
I loved how this starts out. and then the third section came out of nowhere, shaking down everything I thought I'd be getting from the story. it unwinds from there like... like... I can't even figure out a good metaphor. the main 2011 tournament judge described it as scaffolding. in some ways, the structure echoes Cloud Atlas, but not.

The Sellout, Paul Beatty
I am still not sure that I am a person who is supposed to understand everything in this book. it's a lot. it's impressive in just how dense and rich all the writing is. but it's a lot. (my goodreads review here)

A Mercy, by Toni Morrison
I mentioned the beauty in this book already. it's a beauty that feels half-hidden. blurry, somehow. I must admit, my reading attention is currently split (quite unevenly) between this book and the audio version of Hank Green's new book, so that may be one reason I don't feel like I'm fully appreciating the former.

The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
the world of this book is painted so gorgeously vivid. the journey the main character takes is so long, so fraught, but somehow steady and full of optimism.

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
so many people like this book so much. I thought I'd like it too, at least as much as I like reading most books, but the sudden drastic time jump away from Thomas Cromwell's youth kinda lost me. hopefully I'll get back to it someday and give it another chance, when I don't have to read it on my phone.  

The Good Lord Bird, James McBride
still waiting to get past page 3 of this one, so far. I think I was feeling overloaded on narratives with slavery in them after The Sellout and Underground Railroad, so I had to set it down.

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