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2016 Tournament of Books > Quarterfinals Rounds 2016 TOB

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message 1: by Amy (last edited Mar 24, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments This is the placeholder for the quarterfinals rounds of the 2016 TOB running March 21-24.

March 21: QF ROUND 1 judged by Kit Rachlis - Bats of the Republic vs. The Sympathizer
March 22: QF ROUND 2 judged by Jess Zimmerman - The Turner House vs. Our Souls at Night
March 23: QF ROUND 3 judged by John Taylor - A Little Life vs. The Tsar of Love and Techno
March 24: QF ROUND 4 judged by Danielle Henderson - A Spool of Blue Thread vs. The Sellout


message 3: by Sara G (new)

Sara G Wowee wow. The entire left side of my bracket is demolished.


message 4: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments I enjoyed both of these books but I definitely though The Sympathizer had this one. I'm sure Dodson is happy though.


message 5: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments Yes. I liked them both but put my money on Sympathizer so am surprised along with the commentariat... Though not nearly as upset!


message 6: by Jason (new)

Jason Perdue | 591 comments Stunned that Bats took this.

I have to admit that I think I peaked too early in all of our commotion leading up to the TOB. All the months of speculation, feverish reading, and then the alt.TOB have me now weary during the actual tournament. I've been stuck about 20% through Bats for two weeks. Can't seem to finish A Little Life even though I think I've gotten through the worst of it (abuse-wise, not writing-wise).


message 7: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments We definitely need to have an earlier alt-TOB (I understand, the marathon reading has been hard on me as well).


message 8: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 54 comments Has there been any "zombie" info as yet about the losers? I would be very sorry to lose The Sympathizer for good. I thought it would win the Rooster.

Bats of the Republic repelled me. I didn't find it beautiful, just off-putting and distracting. Even after two TOB wins I find I'm not interested--"razzmatazz" not being a huge draw for me.

Jason, I'm feeling the same way that you describe but I kind of blame the mix of books and judges this year's TOB for my lack of enthusiasm, more than my burnout factor. Partly it's the book selections, several of which just seem not-good in a not-interesting way (vs. books I love to hate and can get energized about hating...that can be fun.)

But a bigger issue for me has been that the judges seem bored or disengaged with the books they're reading--in their decisions they don't give me any compelling reason to reconsider or to think more deeply about these books. I miss that.

I'm thinking fondly of Station Eleven vs. Brief History of Seven Killings by Nicole Cliffe last year--I disagreed strongly with what she wrote, but man, she engaged me and made me think about what makes great literature great. I'm not getting that feeling at all this year so far.


message 9: by Jen (new)

Jen | 125 comments I haven't read Bats but even so, today was a surprise for me. I really liked The Sympathizer. Even so, it's fun to watch an underdog get through and now I definitely will read it.


message 10: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments poingu wrote: "Has there been any "zombie" info as yet about the losers? I would be very sorry to lose The Sympathizer for good. I thought it would win the Rooster.

Bats of the Republic repelled me. I didn't fin..."


Brief History... was so engaging for the tournament as a whole. <3 I do miss having that same love/hate that seems to be lacking this year.

Of these books, I can't say any angered me. I remember last year - Adam gave me rage (but made for a great discussion). Another thing that I think is lacking is the genre fiction. They threw in "The Whites" (admittedly one of the 3 books I didn't get to) but other than that - no YA, no science fiction, etc.


message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments poingu wrote: "Has there been any "zombie" info as yet about the losers? I would be very sorry to lose The Sympathizer for good. I thought it would win the Rooster.

Bats of the Republic repelled me. I didn't fin..."


End of the opening rounds commentary said zombies so far would be: Fates & Furies as well as Story of My Teeth (in alphabetical order).... now there's a possibility The Sympathizer may have beat out one of those. Definitely NOT coming back as a zombie (per John & Kevin): Ban en Banlieue, Oreo (awww!), The Whites, The New World, The Invaders and The Book of Aron.


message 12: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments AmberBug wrote: "Another thing that I think is lacking is the genre fiction. They threw in "The Whites" (admittedly one of the 3 books I didn't get to) but other than that - no YA, no science fiction, etc..."
Yeah, I would have loved a decent YA to cheer for and fiercely support in the face of 'genre' convos, and The New World was more literary device than a sci-fi book. When viewed against last year's Annihilation there's no real genre comparison. I think I would have preferred those as options to the two "they're successful authors that have never been entries" play-in books.


message 13: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Amy wrote: "AmberBug wrote: "Another thing that I think is lacking is the genre fiction. They threw in "The Whites" (admittedly one of the 3 books I didn't get to) but other than that - no YA, no science ficti..."

Amy did you see that Aurora was brought up in the comments? I was really hoping that one would be picked.


message 14: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments AmberBug wrote: "Amy wrote: "AmberBug wrote: "Another thing that I think is lacking is the genre fiction. They threw in "The Whites" (admittedly one of the 3 books I didn't get to) but other than that - no YA, no s..."
yup! commented back. Aurora would have been a great one for conversation as it is quite literary but also has debatable devices used (well, one main device really) for exposition and author commentary. It's a 'sweeping' story with pretty good science philosophy so there is a lot to love and hate. The characters aren't terribly knowable but that is part of the device again so I think it worked. The ending sort of killed it for me (not the event itself which was great, but the conflict resolution) because it was the author beating the reader over the head with his personal life philosophy... but otherwise I loved the story and its fairly ambitious; everything a TOB could hope for!


message 15: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 298 comments Jason wrote: "Stunned that Bats took this.

I have to admit that I think I peaked too early in all of our commotion leading up to the TOB. All the months of speculation, feverish reading, and then the alt.TOB h..."


Oh Jason -

I do not think this is a spoiler but there is more abuse to come.


message 16: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 54 comments I'm just re-reading Aurora with my son (we still read out loud together even though he's 16--I love that) and the novel is even better for me the 2nd time around, maybe because reading it out loud vivifies the way every little change in this closed system affects everything else.


message 17: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 298 comments I also did not see Bats winning this round over The Sympathizer.

I am not that bugged out by it as I am not minding Bats and maybe part of the reason is because as mentioned I had no expectations prior to picking it up and was enjoying the novel within a novel is a historical fiction and spec fiction and I like both genres.

Even though this is my first ToB I was a little disappointed in the short-list (beside a couple that I really enjoyed) .
It was not burnout for me.
I think I would have enjoyed some of the other longlisted books more.

I really did enjoy the alt-ToB selection and was much more connected with those books. Maybe because the books appealed more to my reading taste.


message 18: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments poingu wrote: "I'm just re-reading Aurora with my son (we still read out loud together even though he's 16--I love that) and the novel is even better for me the 2nd time around, maybe because reading it out loud ..."

Seriously? How amazing is that? What a great relationship. <3


message 19: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 357 comments poingu wrote: "I'm just re-reading Aurora with my son (we still read out loud together even though he's 16--I love that) and the novel is even better for me the 2nd time around, maybe because reading it out loud ..."

I'm so glad you said this. My son is almost 13, and we've always read together until recently. I'm going to try to start up with him again.


message 20: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Okay, I don't think I'm having children but this discussion is making me jealous... to have a kid for the chance to read aloud to them. Hmm, Not great reasoning... but not bad either. ;p


message 21: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments poingu wrote: "I'm just re-reading Aurora with my son (we still read out loud together even though he's 16--I love that) and the novel is even better for me the 2nd time around, maybe because reading it out loud ..."

wow yeah, I can only hope to be doing the same with my daughter when she's a teen!


message 22: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 357 comments AmberBug wrote: "Okay, I don't think I'm having children but this discussion is making me jealous... to have a kid for the chance to read aloud to them. Hmm, Not great reasoning... but not bad either. ;p"

I'm sure you could borrow a kid to read to! There are so many books I would never have read if I wasn't reading them to my son. I'm re-reading the Little House series with my daughter right now and enjoying it so much.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

AmberBug wrote: "Okay, I don't think I'm having children but this discussion is making me jealous... to have a kid for the chance to read aloud to them. Hmm, Not great reasoning... but not bad either. ;p"

Amber, I recommend volunteering at your local public or school library. You can have fun reading with kids, and best of all, you don't have to take them home with you! ; )


message 24: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 21, 2016 06:36PM) (new)

Bats foiled my brackets again! It is one of the books I opted not to read, but I guess it's time to give it a go. I didn't like The Sympathizer, but I thought it had a good shot at making it to the final round.

I, too, am not feeling my usual enthusiasm for the tournament this year. I decided not to be an active participant in the alt.ToB because I didn't want to burn myself out before the main event, but I feel fatigued anyway. I blame it on the mix of books on the shortlist—too much experimentation and not enough good storytelling. Fortunately, there are still some good match-ups to come. And mugs! I got the rooster standing on a pile of books. I might go back for the repeating roosters.


message 25: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 120 comments I think my favorite part is Bats author's tweets following each surprise win.


message 26: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments I just became an Aunt (kinda) since my BFF and co-blogger Arianna had a baby girl. I'll be reading to her for sure. :)


message 27: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 357 comments That's going to be the smartest and most well-read baby on the planet


message 28: by Heather (new)

Heather (hlynhart) | 298 comments Viet Thanh Nguyen posted a comment on the TOB page thanking people for participating and reading his novel. Makes me want to give it another try now!


message 29: by Jen (new)

Jen | 125 comments poingu wrote: "I'm just re-reading Aurora with my son (we still read out loud together even though he's 16--I love that) and the novel is even better for me the 2nd time around, maybe because reading it out loud ..."

I love this!!


message 30: by Sara G (new)

Sara G poingu wrote: "I'm just re-reading Aurora with my son (we still read out loud together even though he's 16--I love that) and the novel is even better for me the 2nd time around, maybe because reading it out loud ..."

That's great!


message 32: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 120 comments Fine. I guess I have to read The Turner House now.


message 33: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 298 comments I actually liked both of these books and so if I was a judge I would have had a hard time choosing one over the other.

Like the commentators I did The Turner House as a print book and Souls as an audio book and I did give The Turner House a slight edge as winner of this bracket probably because it was a print read.

I enjoyed the discussion by the commentators about how does audio change our perception of a book. Did the narrator do such a good job that I did not feel the criticism that the judge felt? For me the characters in Soul came alive and I thought that it was well done.


message 34: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments I listened to both on audiobook and they each had amazing narrators. I think Flourney's was definitely the more impressive due to the large cast of characters that received their own voice, but the audio on Souls saved me from confusion between who said what due to lack of quotation marks. I have to say I preferred The Turner House but was surprised it won due to all the pre-tournament love out there for Our Souls. I think the judge nailed all the good things about Turner House but I really didn't have the same complaints about Our Souls - I thought some of the characterization a improbable and a lot of the women's behaviors shallow sketches ... But I thought the overall tone of the book was quite warm. Maybe that is because of the wonderful rumble of the narrator's baritone?


message 35: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Ugh, so annoyed this judge felt Our Souls was "cold" and the characters lacking. I liked her creative analogy but she definitely didn't read the same book I did.

I admit, I couldn't pick a winner between these and can't say I'm disappointed or surprised by the result.

Also, read both as physical books. I was tempted to listen to Our Souls since people complained about the lack of quotation marks - but that didn't end up bothering me.


message 36: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 54 comments I loved Plainsong narrated by Tom Stechschulte--wonderful, and one of the first audiobooks I ever 'read.' There is something about Haruf's prose that is perfect for listening even when it might be a little stark on the page.

I loved the chair metaphor in today's decision! I can imagine a lot of other books as chairs, too.


nomadreader (Carrie D-L) (nomadreader) | 68 comments This discussion made me realize I definitely want to listen to Our Souls rather than read it. I often think about how the listening experience is different than reading. It helps justify how I spend so much time deciding whether to read or listen to a book.


message 38: by Jason (new)

Jason Perdue | 591 comments I listened to the first 1/4 of Our Souls and couldn't continue. I have a problem with idealizing characters and straw man character flaws that are easily wiped away. Maybe it got better, but these two characters always said the right thing, always had an answer to any difficult situation. It never felt real to me in any way. I know many of you loved it, so maybe I'll give it another go, but I really disliked the intro to these people.


message 39: by lark (last edited Mar 22, 2016 05:14PM) (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 54 comments Jason wrote: "I listened to the first 1/4 of Our Souls and couldn't continue. I have a problem with idealizing characters and straw man character flaws that are easily wiped away. Maybe it got better, but these ..."

I don't know Jason. Unless you really want to give Our Souls another try because of TOB, I'd recommend Plainsong as a way to explore whether Haruf is for you. I think it's a better book. But Haruf is quite mannered, no matter which book you pick. It's a formal simplicity, vs. actual simplicity. I happen to love it but not for everyone.


message 40: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 22, 2016 05:27PM) (new)

I am disappointed by today's decision, and I completely disagree with the judge's characterization of Our Souls as cold. It wasn't Haruf's best work, that would be Plainsong, but I liked it. I thought it was a lovely way to say goodbye to the author and to the fictional people of Holt, Colorado. I will miss all of them.

There is little doubt that Our Souls will be knocked out of zombie contention by whichever book loses tomorrow. Also, though Kevin didn't officially declare it, we learned today that The Sympathizer is out of the tournament. That's surprising to me.


message 41: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Fields | 77 comments I felt like today's judge and I did not read the same book! Our Souls felt warm and pensive to me throughout - I mean, you even get the "boy and his dog" trope.

Also, this can't possibly be the first book they read without quotation marks! If that was tough here, don't even think about Cormac McCarthy. Sorry, that was a bit ranty.


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

Rant on, Ryan! I'm right there with you on both points.


message 43: by Jen (last edited Mar 23, 2016 05:21AM) (new)

Jen | 125 comments I agree that Our Souls was mischaracterized. Yesterday's decision disappointed me too. I'll be sad to see it go, but I never had the expectation it would make it all the way.

On the other hand, I am surprised to say goodbye to The Sympathizer, which I thought had a real chance at the Rooster.


message 44: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments Today's quarterfinal round: A Little Life vs. The Tsar of Techno


message 45: by Ellen (new)

Ellen H | 704 comments Sigh.


message 46: by Amy (new)

Amy | 4 comments Sigh #2.


message 47: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 120 comments Sadface. Sigh 3.


message 48: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments The judge didn't really say it this way, but do you think L'il Life fails to succeed at the author's intention due to the unrealistic parts? Do you think her intention really was to show that some people never recover from trauma no matter how well off (in all aspects) they are later?

Also - looks like the current zombies are A Little Life and Fates and Furies.


message 49: by Jen (new)

Jen | 125 comments This was the right decision, for me, and I really enjoyed the judge's contrasting experiences reading ALL the first and second times. He articulated some of my own frustrations with it, which I wasn't able put into words (or even clear thoughts).

Sad to see Our Souls finished - but The Tsar of Love and Techno is the best book I've read for the ToB this year (noting I only read half, and didn't read The Sellout).


message 50: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 54 comments Taylor's decision is especially interesting to me because he is comparing RE-reads...I can imagine A Little Life shows its flaws more the second time around, or maybe, that the experience of the second read would be competing with the first one, and competing with the memory of how it felt to read the novel when you knew still didn't know what was going to happen next, and still weren't sure Yanagihara was going to stay the course with non-redemptive storytelling.

I'm really looking forward to Tsar vs. Sellout. Both such narratively interesting books.


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