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2016 Tournament of Books > Semi-finals Round 2016 TOB

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message 1: by Amy (last edited Mar 28, 2016 07:29AM) (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments This is the placeholder for the two semifinals rounds of the 2016 TOB running March 25th-March 28th

March 25: judged by Jamie Green - Bats of the Republic vs. The Turner House
March 28: judged by Jeff Vandermeer - The Tsar of Love and Techno vs. The Sellout


message 3: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 357 comments By the time I finished reading this judgment, I was actually hyperventilating and my eyes were watering. When I finally saw the verdict, I yelled "woooohooooo!!!!" so loud my poor little girl nearly fell out of her chair.


message 4: by Sara G (new)

Sara G Is this the first use of a gif in a judgement?


message 5: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments first I've seen!
I really appreciated the judgment on this one, because I like both of the books so much but cannot judge them apples to apples. If it's just a matter of writing mastery, Bats wouldn't even be in the tournament. Instead of writing a literary novel, Dodson wrote several stylized interconnected novels and the reality is that he did those very well. Poingu has written about Haruf and how difficult it is to write a 'simple' book. I feel like Dodson did something similar here; he wrote a 19th century book of manners with the right amount of melodrama thrown in from the authoress, a steampunk dystopia that may actually have been a work of speculative fiction from the 19th century (depending on how you read this) and 'first person' letters and documents written (poorly and again somewhat melodramatically) between lovers and family members. None of these can compete with modern literary fiction because none of the authors are supposed to be modern fiction writers. Just as an example, the poems that Zadock composes for his beloved are god-awful. Which is spot on.


message 6: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 101 comments ok, I just had my first bout of complete and utter sadness to realize that TOB is almost done for another year.


message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments poingu wrote: "ok, I just had my first bout of complete and utter sadness to realize that TOB is almost done for another year."

only 4 more judgments to go. But don't worry Poingu! We'll enlist you mid-summer to start the alt.TOB longlist selection!! :) (hopefully enough space from TOB 2016 & 2017 to avoid bracket fatigue!)


message 8: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments I'm right there with you Poingu... but at the same time, I have so many other books I need to get to. Bitter sweet.


message 9: by Drew (new)

Drew (drewlynn) | 416 comments Yes, the sadness is setting in. Looking forward to the alt.TOB this summer.


message 10: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 101 comments On the bright side I'm totally stoked about tomorrow's decision from Jeff Vandermeer, which is sure to be interesting, no matter what happens.


message 11: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Fields | 77 comments Will his decision be comparable to climbing a tower, or descending a tunnel? High expectations for both the judgment's quality and outcome.


message 12: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 101 comments Ryan wrote: "Will his decision be comparable to climbing a tower, or descending a tunnel? High expectations for both the judgment's quality and outcome."

exactly!


message 13: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 357 comments Since we're all waiting around for Monday, here's Jeff VanderMeer's favorite books of 2015. I also remember him recommending a set of recent Russian fiction. I was trying to get clues from this list, but it really just tells us that he's an extremely well-read person with diverse interests.

http://electricliterature.com/jeff-va...


message 14: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Fields | 77 comments Well that just added to my TBR


message 15: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 122 comments Amy wrote: "alt.TOB longlist..." First time I've heard its now during the summer! Fantastic! I'll actually be able to participate and read along this time around.


message 17: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Ouch! I'm not too happy with how negative he was with Tsar. He REALLY didn't like the book. I don't agree with him at all... but to each their own. Funny how the same complaint was applied to Bats for "trying to hard".

This is exactly how I felt about his criticism towards Tsar:

"Michael: “If Marra had spent even a couple of hours down a well—with or without body bag—he would have written this scene differently,” he writes. Yes! That is probably true! And if Paul Beatty had ever openly smoked marijuana in the Supreme Court, he would have written that scene differently. That is, to my mind, as meaningless as criticism gets.


So sad! Now that Tsar is out completely, it looks like I have A Little Life left - and that one is 50/50 with readers/judges.


message 18: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments wow. the first judgment that was entirely for one book and didn't 'make-nice' with the other in the justification!
I think folks were going to be sad either way today but I know this is going to hit some folks especially hard.


message 19: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments I thought this was a great connection made by the commentators: "are both interested in the ways their characters define morality and contentment while living under governments that are apathetic toward, or openly negligent of, their well-being....Beatty and Marra’s characters have in common that they’ve stopped believing in right and wrong, and yet are trying to live lives of meaning. "


message 20: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments @jeffvandermeer is answering any questions on twitter in regards to his judging.


message 21: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments @Amberbug: yeah how does Vandermeer know how Marra would have written the passage if he'd spent time down in a well?? Is he saying that he's capable of writing about such an experience due to his own past? Or is he using this as code for criticizing an American writing about 100 years of Russian living in general?


message 22: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments @Amberbug: yeah how does Vandermeer know how Marra would have written the passage if he'd spent time down in a well?? Is he saying that he's capable of writing about such an experience due to his own past? Or is he using this as code for criticizing an American writing about 100 years of Russian living in general?


message 23: by Ed (new)

Ed (edzafe) | 168 comments None of the judgments have made my head explode this year (a first?!)... okay, maybe a wrinkle of the nose with Turner's advancement over both Souls and Bats (the latter going down to the one match-up I thought it would actually win!) and today's harsh treatment of Tsar... but if Fates takes out Sell-Out that will be my head explosion moment! At peace with Life rising again, but hoping Sell-Out goes all. the. way.


message 24: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 299 comments Wow indeed.

While I was hoping for The Sellout to win, I certainly was not expecting the Judge to be so dismissive of Tsar.

While I know that I am not a fan of short story collections especially when compared to novels and that did influence how I would vote.
But I did like how the stories were connected and followed generations through time as situations changed and how each generation reacted to the situations.

And yes, it is always interesting how one person reacts to a book and I always learn a little something when reading their reasoning about a book.

It should be an interesting next couple of days!


message 25: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 357 comments One step closer to my dream matchup of Turner House vs The Sellout!


nomadreader (Carrie D-L) (nomadreader) | 68 comments Ed wrote: "None of the judgments have made my head explode this year (a first?!)... okay, maybe a wrinkle of the nose with Turner's advancement over both Souls and Bats (the latter going down to the one match..."

And if The Sellout beats Fates my head might explode. It almost exploded with Bats beating it, but I didn't read Bats. Admittedly, I had the same reaction as Vandermeer to the first 10% of The Sellout, but it did not sustain itself at all.


message 27: by Sara G (new)

Sara G I predict The Sellout beating Fates, but I haven't read Fates, just the commentary about it here.


message 28: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 101 comments As someone who had zero connection with Tsar I'm happy with today's judgment and felt myself nodding pretty much all the way through about what Vandermeer wrote.

Is it already settled that The Sellout will be paired with F&F? Is it also settled that the judge will be Celeste Ng? If I were to guess, based on her prose, I'd give F&F the better odds if she is judging between those two.


message 29: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments @poingu - according to the final notes in the commentary injected from Kevin, that is the plan for Wednesday.


message 30: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 101 comments Amy wrote: "@poingu - according to the final notes in the commentary injected from Kevin, that is the plan for Wednesday."

Oh, thanks, Amy. Well, I have the feeling F&F is exactly the book that Ng wished she had written, and that she will find it a natural fit as a reader--sort of like the judge last year who wrote Station Eleven was her perfect book. Let's see, though. F&F is the book I liked least of the short list, so my judgments are clearly not to be trusted about it.


message 31: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 299 comments poingu wrote: "As someone who had zero connection with Tsar I'm happy with today's judgment and felt myself nodding pretty much all the way through about what Vandermeer wrote.

Is it already settled that The Sel..."


Actually that was my thought also when I read Ng would judge the bracket between The Sellout/F&F.

And after looking at the link previously sent about Vandermeer's favorite books of 2015 - not surprised that he choose The Sellout.


message 32: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 357 comments I was hoping she would be the judge for The Turner House round instead.


message 33: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments Just listened to Drew & Chris's podcast (my first, but their 39th) where they discuss and predict zombies in detail. Pretty worth the time and definitely addresses some of our previous questions.


message 34: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments I haven't gotten around to listening to this weeks but I love the podcast.


message 35: by Gaby (new)

Gaby | 29 comments I am very sad today. I base my appreciation of literature on how much it moves me emotionally, which may be trite but what can I say. The Sellout was a very entertaining novel, but the characters in Tsar of Love and Techno really came to life for me. They were so well written and the stories were all different but so connected. I didn't want the book to end. Which is something I can not say about The Sellout.


message 36: by Julie (new)

Julie (julnol) | 113 comments Menu plan for the day decided : Chicken for dinner. Look out Rooster, I'm after you!!!!
I disagree with the judgement in every possible way (except for the judge's right to make a poor judgement).
And with that, I am going to sulk for the rest of the tournament! Bring on the altToB.


message 37: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Breaking News:

SEEN (on facebook) - someone saying

"There are so many books. I think you need to add a fall ToB event!"

The "Tournament of Books" replies

"We have been talking about this, actually."



message 38: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments AmberBug wrote: "Breaking News:
"There are so many books. I think you need to add a fall ToB event!"
The "Tournament of Books" replies

"We have been talking about this, act..."


whoa! that would definitely preclude an alt.TOB for me!


message 39: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 28, 2016 05:15PM) (new)

I expected Vandermeer to choose The Sellout, but I'm surprised and disappointed that he was so tough on Tsar. I have the same thoughts that I had regarding the judge's comments about Our Souls at Night—"Did we read the same book?," and "What is the matter with this idiot judge?" Still, I'm happy that Marra had a good run in the tournament and gained many new readers.

A fall ToB? Two thoughts: 1) Fantastic! 2) Not good news for our alt.ToB.


message 40: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Maybe they are thinking about us? Who knows!


message 41: by lark (last edited Mar 28, 2016 05:54PM) (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 101 comments AmberBug wrote: "Maybe they are thinking about us? Who knows!"

I'm thinking about our alt.Tob and then I realized something. What I loved about what our judges wrote, what made those judgments so interesting, was that everyone without exception wrote thoughtfully and positively about both of their books, even if they didn't care for them as personal readers. Staying positive forced people to grapple with their personal biases in very interesting ways.

I used to think the "they're both good" feeling of real TOB was a little disingenuous. But now i realize that having the discipline to limit yourself to saying positive things, and EVEN SO rendering a judgment, and making a choice, is an approach that makes for better decisions.

Last year's real TOB decisions were more generous and humble than this years, for the most part, where people stayed positive on both books (with an exception or two, to be sure) and i didn't realize until just now that I miss it.

While I agree with Vandermeer, and while I think he made good points, his decision is a little bloodless and cerebral. To be that negative about a book as he is with Tsar means you're setting your own standards of quality above any other way of judging a book.

Just some very random thoughts!


message 42: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments You make a good point Poingu - when reviewing "Gutshot" I was well aware that people I respected really admired the work I thought was so awful! So it made me consider the material seriously and with an aim to understand the intrinsic value of Gray's writing because I couldn't write off their opinions outhand.


message 43: by lark (last edited Mar 28, 2016 06:43PM) (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 101 comments Amy wrote: "You make a good point Poingu - when reviewing "Gutshot" I was well aware that people I respected really admired the work I thought was so awful! So it made me consider the material seriously and wi..."

yes, and you weren't the only one who really didn't love the book/books they needed to judge. I think the discipline of trying to do what you did--"consider the material seriously and with an aim to understand its intrinsic value"--gave the decisions nuances and made it much harder to just say "this was rotten, because I know so," which is something of the flavor of today's decision. I say that even though I pretty much agreed as a reader with Jeff Vandermeer's take. Maybe being a "judge" is different, or should be different, from being a "reader."


message 44: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 28, 2016 07:17PM) (new)

Poingu wrote: "If I were to guess, based on her prose, I'd give F&F the better odds if she is judging between those two."

I think you are right about that, Poingu, but I hope not. I will be sad, and my zombie hate will be fueled if we end up with an ALL vs. F&F final.


message 45: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments Poingu,

Wow! That is insightful and so very true. Thinking about it... it's always harder to say something nice, isn't it? It should be that much harder to find what other like in something you don't. Obviously, these books were picked for reasons!


message 46: by Christina (new)

Christina (cjcourt) | 32 comments http://www.themorningnews.org/tob/#co...

Jeff VanderMeer commented!


message 47: by AmberBug (new)

AmberBug com* | 444 comments He was going back and forth on Twitter on if he should comment - he was thinking it wasn't his place for the judge to do so... guess he gave in to the urge!


message 48: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (brandiec) | 113 comments Gaby wrote: "I am very sad today. I base my appreciation of literature on how much it moves me emotionally, which may be trite but what can I say. The Sellout was a very entertaining novel, but the characters i..."

Amen!


message 49: by Ellen (new)

Ellen H | 741 comments I can't find where Vandermeer commented -- I've been wading through the commentary for hours now. Can you give me an idea where, AmberBug? The link just brings me to the commentary page.


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