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2016 Tournament of Books > Play-In and Opening Rounds of TOB 2016

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message 2: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Good Morning everyone,

Introductions are up. Check it out.


message 3: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments How nice, they mentioned our side tournament and the interview. I'm also thrilled to have an excellent theme song going through my head every time a book is eliminated.


message 4: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 120 comments I was hoping for something more substantial; this feels like a rehash of bracket/shortlist announcements. Have to remember not everyone stalks GR/TMN/Twitter for updates.

Ah, well, will wait for tomorrow.


message 5: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca H. | 99 comments I'm so glad they have linked to our alt.TOB a couple times now. But the REAL fun starts tomorrow!


message 6: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 120 comments It's time! Play in round up!


message 7: by AmberBug (last edited Mar 09, 2016 06:59AM) (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Play-In Round is up: Pre-Tournament Play-in Match


message 8: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 120 comments Cool. So I'm assuming spoilers from here on.

I only read A Spool of Blue Thread, which was my first Anne Tyler book. I've never read John Irving. I guess I'm probably a bit too young for either of these authors to be particularly popular when I growing up. I will probably try to read another Tyler book in the next year and maybe an Irving one when he was at his prime.

It is interesting that both focus on the aging process and readers can almost see the aging process happen through the works of these two authors.

All that being said, I enjoyed Blue Thread a lot, like a comforting hug, and am happy to see it live to see another day.


nomadreader (Carrie D-L) (nomadreader) | 68 comments First, this quote: "So this is the Two Writers Presenting Themselves as Thinly Veiled Versions of Themselves Within Their Novels as They Discuss Their Own Mortality: Subdivision, Nineties Airport Round."

I loved this verdict. It was so much fun to read it in the form of a conversation. I also really liked that they tipped their hand so early and did not hold back their thoughts. It was smart and funny (and did not make me want to read Irving.) It did give me some new appreciation for the Tyler, which I liked but didn't love. It will be a very interesting match-up to see it against The Story of My Teeth.


message 10: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments The Nineties Airport Round made me laugh too. Great write up... but i was hoping for some laughs since the trio is a group of comedians.


message 11: by Jane from B.C. (new)

Jane from B.C. (janethebookworm) | 49 comments Great write-up by the three judges, they had me chuckling. Having only read Tyler's book I can't pass my own judgement.


message 12: by Jen (new)

Jen | 125 comments The 90s airport-books reference made me laugh too (so true!). I haven't read either of these yet, but this is the first I've read about the Tyler book that makes we want to get to it sooner rather than later. (I had no interest in the Irving book and this confirms it for me.)


message 13: by Megan (new)

Megan (gentlyread) | 67 comments YAY IT'S ROOSTER TIME. Beautiful play-in verdict! I couldn't get into the Tyler and I knew I wouldn't enjoy the Irving, but I really enjoyed getting a vicarious peek into these judges' reading experiences.


message 14: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 357 comments Great start, judges! I love that they took the job seriously, but had a lot of fun with the judgment.


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (bazilli) | 7 comments Rachel wrote: "Cool. So I'm assuming spoilers from here on.

I only read A Spool of Blue Thread, which was my first Anne Tyler book. I've never read John Irving. I guess..."


This is basically the review I would write. First Tyler, never read Irving, hugs, trying Irving at prime, etc.


message 16: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments I'm a huge Irving fan but I still need to read some of his essential works - so I decided to skip over this newer one anyways. I'm in the opposite boat, I haven't read Tyler and didn't know if I should start with this one. Sometimes I feel that it's a problem with the TOB and established writers... the newest could be weaker and winning over readers with that particular book might not work.

All I can say is this, if Avenue of Mysteries was that terrible... please don't cast Irving aside - I would definitely visit some of his past successes.


message 17: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 357 comments Jen wrote: "The 90s airport-books reference made me laugh too (so true!). I haven't read either of these yet, but this is the first I've read about the Tyler book that makes we want to get to it sooner rather ..."

We could even go back to the 1980s. Hotel New Hampshire vs The Accidental Tourist would be a great matchup.


message 18: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Sherri wrote: "Jen wrote: "The 90s airport-books reference made me laugh too (so true!). I haven't read either of these yet, but this is the first I've read about the Tyler book that makes we want to get to it so..."

I would be totally down to read those two!


message 19: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments I didn't read either book but was so interested to see a conversation that we've had in several threads here regarding that fine balance of writing outside of your own experience. Writers either condescend-or-pander and affront or illuminate and honor... in this case Irving is being slammed for the former.


message 20: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments Also have to laugh at how Irving's utter lack of self awareness. His thinly veiled self reflects that he's 'not much inclined to male fantasies' - what!? that's every Irving book I've seen/read! He's obviously received the feedback or he wouldn't mention it, but instead of reflecting, he chooses to plug his ears, hide his eyes and 'la-la-la-la!'


message 21: by lark (last edited Mar 08, 2016 09:00AM) (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 57 comments From this round I learned

1) I strongly prefer judgments made by 1 judge only--this play-in round seemed shallow compared with the reasoned, sometimes anguished judgments of 1-person TOB decisions, and

2) wow, I am so tired of people using coarse language as the new standard of communication. This play-in round dismayed me. Poor writing. I'm not offended, I just think it's a sign of a sloppy thinker/writer. Someone who writes this poorly is not worth reading to glean their opinions about good writing.


message 22: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments poingu wrote: "From this round I learned

1) I strongly prefer judgments made by 1 judge only--this play-in round seemed shallow compared with the reasoned, sometimes anguished judgments of 1-person TOB decision..."


I felt something wrong with this... and I think you guided me to it. It was a 'ganged up' bully feeling. Instead of a nice back and forth it became a crushing match. However, that probably wouldn't have bothered me THAT much BUT then you move onto the commentary and BOOM another bunch of people bashing. At least, people were reasoning and gave examples but I feel beat up in a corner and I haven't even read the book! I do have a fondness for Irving though.


message 23: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments poingu wrote: "From this round I learned

1) I strongly prefer judgments made by 1 judge only--this play-in round seemed shallow compared with the reasoned, sometimes anguished judgments of 1-person TOB decision..."


Wow, yeah, you gave me pause. I actually enjoyed reading the back-and-forth of the judgment for the most part and I thought the 'why we hated' Irving explanations were spot on. What you made me realize though is the lack of balance; I'm sure there was something good about Mysteries and even the judges noted (as an afterthought) that this wasn't the best of Anne Tyler. So where was that in the gleeful skewering?


message 24: by Jen (new)

Jen | 125 comments AmberBug wrote: "I'm a huge Irving fan but I still need to read some of his essential works - so I decided to skip over this newer one anyways. I'm in the opposite boat, I haven't read Tyler and didn't know if I sh..."

I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany so much when I read it - admittedly, many moons ago. AmberBug, what is another essential work you would recommend? (I don't have an interest in this particular book, but would definitely like to pick up one of his 'classics' in the nearish future.)


message 25: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Jen wrote: "AmberBug wrote: "I'm a huge Irving fan but I still need to read some of his essential works - so I decided to skip over this newer one anyways. I'm in the opposite boat, I haven't read Tyler and di..."

Garp was my favorite. I started with Owen Meany too. I would definitely read The World According to Garp.


message 26: by Drew (new)

Drew (drewlynn) | 416 comments Jen wrote: "AmberBug wrote: "I'm a huge Irving fan but I still need to read some of his essential works - so I decided to skip over this newer one anyways. I'm in the opposite boat, I haven't read Tyler and di..."

Or Cider House Rules. I think that one would hold up pretty well.


message 27: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Drew wrote: "Jen wrote: "AmberBug wrote: "I'm a huge Irving fan but I still need to read some of his essential works - so I decided to skip over this newer one anyways. I'm in the opposite boat, I haven't read ..."

I haven't read that one yet -- another reason why it didn't feel right to pick up "Avenue" before reading some of his tried and true. I wish I had though, even though it seems like he really failed at this book. Now I wish I had also picked up the Tyler book - seeing as how it's now an official TOB book.


message 28: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (brandiec) | 113 comments poingu wrote: "From this round I learned

1) I strongly prefer judgments made by 1 judge only--this play-in round seemed shallow compared with the reasoned, sometimes anguished judgments of 1-person TOB decision..."


Absolutely agree!


message 29: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Fields | 77 comments Jen wrote: "AmberBug wrote: "I'm a huge Irving fan but I still need to read some of his essential works - so I decided to skip over this newer one anyways. I'm in the opposite boat, I haven't read Tyler and di..."

Definitely Cider House Rules. I've read that and The World According to Garp, but I think CHR offers the better side of Irving sentimentalism.

Also, I think that Avenue of Mysteries works better if you are already a fan of Irving. Some of the themes that he deals with (and plot devices he uses) feel more comfortable if you have seen them before. And, since he has used them in completely traditional settings before, they don't seem to be cultural appropriation (e.g. Owen Meany has his own kind of visions- a sign that mysticism is not new for Irving, nor exclusive to a Mexican setting). Sorry, that was a bit long.


message 30: by AmberBug (last edited Mar 09, 2016 06:59AM) (new)


message 31: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments yay! you beat me by minutes! I was secretly hoping for this outcome and suspicious that judge Maria would come through for me based on the few pieces of her writing I found while googling! In the end, her decision was more clear-cut than mine would have been ... I actually admired the loser for many reasons, purple prose and melodramatics aside.


message 32: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 120 comments Wow.

So this is one of the few rounds I've read both books. I think I actually agree with the verdict as Fates was just too...typical, unspecial. Bats was very beautiful even without the most compelling storyline.


message 33: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments I'm surprised but delighted! Not a big Fates fan over here (although, I didn't hate it). I really enjoyed Bats but I see the flaws. I wouldn't mind seeing it move a little further. :)


message 34: by Ellen (new)

Ellen H | 704 comments That's a perfect assessment, Rachel. Fates WAS too unspecial, and it's surprised me how beloved it's been. I felt as if I'd read it a thousand times before, and I loathed Lotto. Loathed. Him. Just thinking about him again infuriates me.

Bats ultimately failed as a story in many ways, since I couldn't really figure out what he was getting at and there really wasn't much of an answer to many or most of the questions, but I found it so intriguingly beautiful without being gimmicky that I didn't really mind that much.


message 35: by Ellen (new)

Ellen H | 704 comments But -- the first upset in Round 1! We may be in for a bumpy ride. I'll be totally along with it as long as Ban en Banlieue and The New World lose their brackets, and not because I am a huge supporter of their adversaries (although I am, in the case of A Little Life) but because they were the two WTF books for me.


message 36: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments Rachel wrote: " I think I actually agree with the verdict as Fates was just too...typical, unspecial. Bats was very beautiful even without the most comp..."
Yes. Despite a so-so story, the execution won me over and weeks afterwards I'm still making connections or pondering new questions about Bats. Fates and Furies contained a few moments where I sat up in recognition, but the purple prose and continual "face licking" (as Poingu called out) muddied the domestic tale overmuch.


message 37: by Stacy (new)

Stacy | 1 comments This verdict made my day! I pretty much loathed F&F and absolutely loved Bats for it's creativity, though it's not my top pick for the tournament.


message 38: by Ed (new)

Ed (edzafe) | 168 comments Feeling very validated w/ the Bats over F&F win as it was a no-brainer in my book (ha!). I think Judge Bustillos "got" Bats way more than I did, but I just love the intricacies of it and even the story. I feared the art of the book was going to overwhelm the story and to a certain extent I think it did, but was a fan of the story (stories!) I sense more than some others. And while I am a fan of "literary" fiction, found Kevin and John's defense of F&F (and criticism of Bats) a bit eye-roll-y... always find things tend to get a tad too high brow for my taste at times during ToB, ha!


message 39: by Karen Michele (new)

Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 24 comments Yay! I'm trying to catch up and participate, but I hadn't gotten to either of these books yet because I had to return Bats for another library user and put it on hold again. I should have it back soon and get it read before it comes up again and I can skip Fates for now.


message 40: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments So, which book do you think John is referring to?

"There is another very popular book in our tournament to which the purple prose charge could stick, but I disagree with it here."


message 41: by Ellen (new)

Ellen H | 704 comments Heh. I presume A Little Life.


message 42: by Sara G (new)

Sara G I was thinking he was referring to Tsar. At least if we're using 'purple' in the way the judge is using it.

I was so smug yesterday because my bracket predictions were 1 for 1 but now all is ruined! I don't have a vested interest in either book, but my brackets--my brackets!!


message 43: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Ellen wrote: "Heh. I presume A Little Life."

I thought so too but then thinking back... it wasn't especially colorful in prose was it? Maybe I'm remembering it wrong but I found Fates more fluffed in that aspect (but I do admire the writing of Fates).


message 44: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 357 comments Looking at my ratings, I gave F&F 5 stars when it first came out. And Bats was fun, but only earned 3 stars from me. But I was pulling for an upset here, and am happy to see Bats move on. I'm not sure I can explain that, other than that in real life I prefer eccentric, super-creative people over lovely, elegant people :).


message 45: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 57 comments Sherri wrote: "Looking at my ratings, I gave F&F 5 stars when it first came out. And Bats was fun, but only earned 3 stars from me. But I was pulling for an upset here, and am happy to see Bats move on. I'm not s..."

what an interesting take! I think I feel the same way, not only because of wanting to see novels championed for the risks they take, but also, to get people interested in trying to read a book they've written off as "not for them." Bats of the Republic is in that category for me--I'd written it off as gimmicky and now I'm excited about reading it!


message 46: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments at first I was a bit flummoxed at the love John & Kevin were throwing at Fates especially since its been compared so much to Gone Girl and I figured that enough would bring out the snotty sniffles. But then their reactions made it click for me as to why this story felt so familiar on many levels. It was written for them. It's an artistic male's bildungs roman with a fantasy muse in Mathilde. Instead of the manic pixie dream girl muse, we have the holy virgin/ice princess/sexy librarian on the outside, porn-star in the bed male fantasy. Even when the fantasy is undermined, it's only to further debase Mathilde rather than allow her to grow and change.


message 47: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Amy wrote: "at first I was a bit flummoxed at the love John & Kevin were throwing at Fates especially since its been compared so much to Gone Girl and I figured that enough would bring out the ..."

Woah! Mind blown. Maybe that is why so many guys are digging this one.


nomadreader (Carrie D-L) (nomadreader) | 68 comments I'm devastated! I loved Fates, as I've loved all of Groff's books. I expect to see it back as a zombie, which means I have to admit the zombie rounds aren't always terrible.

I returned Bats to the library before I read it, and this judgment made me realize I don't actually want to read it.


message 49: by Ellen (new)

Ellen H | 704 comments Amy wrote: "at first I was a bit flummoxed at the love John & Kevin were throwing at Fates especially since its been compared so much to Gone Girl and I figured that enough would bring out the ..."

Wow, Amy. Just...wow.


message 50: by Sue (new)

Sue | 24 comments Yes, wow. Fascinating, Amy.

Nobody better call Marra's magnificent prose purple!

Ellen wrote: "Amy wrote: "at first I was a bit flummoxed at the love John & Kevin were throwing at Fates especially since its been compared so much to Gone Girl and I figured that enough would br..."


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