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2019 TOB - the Tourney > Opening Rounds 5-8

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message 2: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 236 comments Oh, sorry, I should come over HERE to complain about today, instead of the Rounds 1-4 page.
https://themorningnews.org/tob/2019/t...


message 3: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 65 comments Melanie I'm reposting over here my thought about your post over there (where I've deleted my post)

Melanie wrote: "He read them carefully, sure, but he was SO WRONG in the way he read MStSK! I mean, I love that little book & think there are tons of ways to read it, but the way he did is so so outside what I wou..."

Is it a stretch to think his gender influenced his read quite a bit? I think his views are defensible but his thoughts about dads and father figures really was a different take for me.

Also this felt different to me as a take:

One of the more harrowing continuities throughout #MeToo stories is the length communities will go to cover up abuse. Hiding several murders for the sake of a family unit isn’t much different—a bitter pill wrapped in an unrecognizable package.

It felt like a weird twist to compare these sisters to #metoo abusers when the story read to me on its most fundamental level as two women abused by their father and abused by their culture, and now they're hitting back, seeking justice.


message 4: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Hanes | 125 comments This was the only bracket where I'd read both books. I thought the analysis was the best one so far, in that he did seem to carefully compare the content and styles used. I would have come to the same conclusions, I think. I enjoyed the first half of The Overstory as much as all of MStSK. And the second half of The Overstory was more tedious, but I continued to admire the use of language and metaphors.

As to this judge's take on the content of MStSK....he brought who he was into the read, as did I....so we read slightly different books as a result. From listening to the author talk about her book, I do think one purpose was to delve into how far we will go for those we love, so his comparison was not completely off the wall. This thread of seeking justice for mistreatment created an uncomfortable squirm in me regarding the moral question of is it an acceptable place to land, no matter how much "deserved"? I did not see the father themes he referenced, however.


message 5: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1631 comments I didn’t see Muhtar as a either father figure or potential love interest as I see done in the judgment and some threads - I’ll have to check them out again.

Thanks Lark for posting in the old thread! I’m a bit behind this morn!


message 6: by Sophia (new)

Sophia Blue | 23 comments I'm a little surprised how disappointed I am in this. I would have loved to get one more judge's perspective on MStSK. It seems like a book 20 different people could read 20 different ways.


message 7: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 61 comments Although I think the judge made a thoughtful and informed decision I absolutely believe his gender affected his judgment.

Korede and Ayoola's father was of course a huge factor in their lives, it is the ongoing relationship between the sisters that was most fascinating to me. I think the author did a brilliant job of putting just enough on paper to get the reader thinking but the downside of that is (as Sophia pointed out above) it allows for more internal interpretation than most novels and while I know this is going to sound beyond pretentious, I expect many readers just "didn't get it."

I still loved The Overstory and am not surprised by the result. I read MStSK too late for it to be my zombie pick but I will be thrilled to see it pop back up.


message 8: by Drew (new)

Drew (drewlynn) | 416 comments When will the zombie be announced?


message 9: by Jan (new)

Jan (janrowell) | 1043 comments I think at the end of the opening round, with updates as we go forward. Is that right?


message 10: by jo (new)

jo | 429 comments Lark wrote: "Melanie I'm reposting over here my thought about your post over there (where I've deleted my post)

Melanie wrote: "He read them carefully, sure, but he was SO WRONG in the way he read MStSK! I mea..."


i feel the same way you do. now the abused women whose father wanted to sell them (well one of them) for the furtherance of his business affairs and whose boyfriends are blind entitled assholes are the PERPETRATORS of #metoo-like abuses? SIT DOWN, MAN.

i also missed entirely muhar (the man in a coma? that's him right?) as a dominating patriarch.


message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1631 comments yeah - so Monday we should get Kevin and John weighing in on who the front runner zombies are 'so far' (as in, only among books that have been knocked out). from there they tend to comment every 1-2 decisions. I'm biting my fingernails already!


message 12: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1631 comments my guesses for zombies (usually released earlier, favorably received by TOB commentary & either somewhat known authors OR books that got some buzz ahead of shortlist):
1) The Italian Teacher
2) The Overstory
3) There There
4) Washington Black
5) My Sister the Serial Killer
6) The Mars Room
it was a lot tougher to guess this year (last year there were obvious favorites from well-known authors to lead the pack)


message 13: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1631 comments jo wrote: "Lark wrote: "Melanie I'm reposting over here my thought about your post over there (where I've deleted my post)

Melanie wrote: "He read them carefully, sure, but he was SO WRONG in the way he read..."


yeah - not how I read it at all. I just replied to someone asking about the motivations for the killings.... I feel like the subtleties are getting so missed.
Ayoola is the female version of the 'good guy' who's a serial rapist but otherwise beloved by society. Her reasons are only as arbitrary as his exculpatory ones if he's ever even questioned.


message 14: by lark (last edited Mar 13, 2019 01:12PM) (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 65 comments jo wrote: "i feel the same way you do. now the abused women whose father wanted to sell them (well one of them) for the furtherance of his business affairs and whose boyfriends are blind entitled assholes are the PERPETRATORS of #metoo-like abuses? SIT DOWN, MAN.

i also missed entirely muhar (the man in a coma? that's him right?) as a dominating patriarch. ..."


oh, good! thanks jo.

muhar (if my auto spell makes that name into MOHAIR one more time I will die) seems very maternal to me. What a perfect listener, for one thing.


message 15: by jo (new)

jo | 429 comments Amy wrote: "Ayoola is the female version of the 'good guy' who's a serial rapist but otherwise beloved by society. Her reasons are only as arbitrary as his exculpatory ones if he's ever even questioned.

i wrote this in my review so i'll be repeating myself, but ayoola seems to me a pushed-to-the-limits-of-credibility (cuz credibility is not what this author is after) figure for the women who simply won't not take any more. like many men do to women DAILY, she kills her obnoxious partners. if you turn the novel on its head and make the the two women into two brothers who kill women, it would be a boring serial killer story. this way, it is a subtle exposition of how much women take from men while being perfectly acquiescent.


message 16: by jo (new)

jo | 429 comments i read the first three lines of the judgment without knowing who the judge was. at line three i went like, oh, this is a man. my eyes went up and, sure enough....


message 17: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Hanes | 125 comments In case my comment was not clear....I was just saying that the author stated that she was addressing how far people are willing to go in the name of loyalty to family and those we love...and how that relates to how Korede helped Ayoola cover up and hide her killings--which is something we've seen over and over again with coverups elsewhere (such as protecting people in power who have been abusive or inappropriate). That was the connection to #metoo I was primarily focused on. Coverups and lack of accountability for actions.

And I totally did not see Muhar as a paternal figure in any way shape or form. It was Korede who booted the family out when they became obnoxious.


message 18: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 65 comments Carmel I think one of the things the book does brilliantly is put all the needed clues for the reader to go either way, to either think Ayoola is a female-coded remorseless serial killer, or to think she is the victim of patriarchal abuse who is lashing out the only way she can to survive--a sort of vigilante-hero type that we should root for.

The abuse from their father is so vague and off-screen, for instance, compared with blood and bleach. So even if we have a strong desire to i.d. with the narrator and her sister, it's pretty squicky stuff they do and the men they harm seem reasonable or at least not deserving of death (esp. the poet!).

also Ayoola is so cold. She has zero empathy as a character.

So yes I read this as a feminist payback sort of story but I was uncomfortable about it and I do think the judge's interpretation is a valid one, just one I didn't share.


message 19: by jo (last edited Mar 13, 2019 02:03PM) (new)

jo | 429 comments i think i'm generally uncomfortable with anyone putting women on the wrong side of #metoo. this one is ours, you know? people are welcome to come up with another hashtag lol (#hetoo?).


message 20: by jo (new)

jo | 429 comments jo wrote: "i think i'm generally uncomfortable with anyone putting women on the wrong side of #metoo. this one is ours, you know? people are welcome to come up with another hashtag lol (#hetoo?)."

and that a guy does it? no no no no no.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Amy wrote: "my guesses for zombies (usually released earlier, favorably received by TOB commentary & either somewhat known authors OR books that got some buzz ahead of shortlist):
1) The Italian Teacher
2) The..."


I would have a similar list. At this point, The Italian Teacher and Washington Black seem the most likely to rise from the dead.


message 22: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 65 comments jo wrote: "i think i'm generally uncomfortable with anyone putting women on the wrong side of #metoo. this one is ours, you know? people are welcome to come up with another hashtag lol (#hetoo?)."

yes, I also felt extremely weird about it, but it's an example of the tricky nature of this book that the sisters are neither sympathetic characters in the classic sense nor are they really the opposite of sympathetic. it's all very uneasy.


message 23: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisgitt) | 88 comments Lark wrote: "It felt like a weird twist to compare these sisters to #metoo abusers when the story read to me on its most fundamental level as two women abused by their father and abused by their culture, and now they're hitting back, seeking justice."

His analysis seemed completely off base to me. It was a much better written judgment than many of the earlier entries, but I could not see how he couched it in that way.


message 24: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 65 comments One thing Kevin Guilfoile wrote in his comment was: "Serial Killer feels like a cool mashup of both African and Western influences."

Then he writes about MAGA vs. "maga," which means "fool" in Yoruba, which is a little interesting,

BUT his comment also made me wonder whether for a Nigerian reader this novel would have resonances I'm not aware of.


message 25: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 13, 2019 04:19PM) (new)

I'm disappointed by today's outcome, but not surprised or angry about it. Maybe the judge didn't get the nuance of MStSK, and maybe his esteem for Powers' body of work predisposed him to advance The Overstory. Oh well, we aren't promised fairness, just transparency. It didn't go the way I would have preferred, but the judge was thoughtful about his choice, and I enjoyed his write-up.


message 26: by Nadine (new)

Nadine (nadinekc) | 510 comments Lark wrote: "yes, I also felt extremely weird about it, but it's an example of the tricky nature of this book that the sisters are neither sympathetic characters in the classic sense nor are they really the opposite of sympathetic. it's all very uneasy...."

And on top of that, the humorous undertone charms and beguiles the reader, making us weirdly complicit too


message 27: by jo (new)

jo | 429 comments Nadine wrote: "And on top of that, the humorous undertone charms and beguiles the reader, making us weirdly complicit too."

Yeah I wasn’t uneasy. At first it’s hard to determine one’s allegiances, but when the father (in flashback) and the inane doctor get into the scene, I started thinking, KILL THEM ALL DEAD!


message 28: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 436 comments Tina wrote: "I'm disappointed by today's outcome, but not surprised or angry about it. Maybe the judge didn't get the nuance of MStSK, and maybe his esteem for Powers' body of work predisposed him to advance Th..."

Tina, this is a very mature responsible adult way to look at it, thanks for bringing me out of my stompy pouty mode. A little. Give me a day or ten.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Bretnie wrote: "Give me a day or ten"

Take your time. I'm barely over Exit West not making it to the final round last year.


message 30: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 705 comments I'm nervous about today! I adored House of Broken Angels, it was probably my favorite in the competition. And I *assume* it'll win today, but this is the judge, writing for Salon. (She's a TV critic.):

"Some biases I should state up front: I love plot and romance and super-intense atmospheres. (But I have gotten really bored of "Revenge.") I have a sweet spot for fantasy and sci-fi and girls who know how to punch things."

So, you never know...


message 31: by Katherine (new)

Katherine (katsikes) Tina wrote: "I'm disappointed by today's outcome, but not surprised or angry about it. Maybe the judge didn't get the nuance of MStSK, and maybe his esteem for Powers' body of work predisposed him to advance Th..."
You are much more mature than I am! ;)
I loved MStSK. To be fair, I didn't read a lot of the others, but MStSK has stuck with me since I finished it and is making me strongly consider breaking my 2019 book buying moratorium because I want to read it again. I think I've seen the phrase "deceptively simplistic" about it, and I think there are many more layers that I don't feel like the judge got. But it's a book that has a lot of "negative space" that allows for a lot of interpretation, so I guess you're right that I can't be angry because he interpreted it differently than I did. But I am disappointed :( (And to the person still upset about Exit West not making it to the final - same, girl. Same.)


message 32: by Janet (last edited Mar 14, 2019 06:57AM) (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 630 comments Elizabeth Arnold wrote: "I'm nervous about today! I adored House of Broken Angels, it was probably my favorite in the competition. And I *assume* it'll win today, but this is the judge, writing for Salon. (She's a TV criti..."

I am too. If the House of Broken Angels doesn't win this round, I'll probably quit following the tournament. I have some travel coming up anyway so a loss (if it must be) will coincide with something that will take my mind off the injustice of it all....lol.


message 33: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (jessicaxmaria) | 27 comments I feel like I'm in the minority who loved So Lucky hahaha (though after some comments from Lark, House of Broken Angels may improve for me upon a second read...!)


message 34: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 705 comments Janet, I hope you don't stop following, but I definitely hear you!

Jessica wrote: "I feel like I'm in the minority who loved So Lucky hahaha (though after some comments from Lark, House of Broken Angels may improve for me upon a second read...!)"

I liked, but didn't love So Lucky. There was just too much about it that bothered me. Maybe House would work better for you now we have access to the family tree? I want to read it again, just to sink back inside that family...


message 35: by Janet (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 630 comments I read House in print so I'd like to listen to the audio....Urrea is the consummate performer so maybe Paskin will be drawn to that. She will surely have an appreciation for the parrot scene, which has to be the funniest border crossing story ever.


message 36: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 705 comments Janet wrote: "I read House in print so I'd like to listen to the audio....Urrea is the consummate performer so maybe Paskin will be drawn to that. She will surely have an appreciation for the parrot scene, which..."

You can tell who he is just be reading his words, he just seems to have so much heart and gentleness and kindness, and is so funny...I'm sure that comes across on the audio.


message 37: by Janet (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 630 comments Elizabeth Arnold wrote: "Janet wrote: "I read House in print so I'd like to listen to the audio....Urrea is the consummate performer so maybe Paskin will be drawn to that. She will surely have an appreciation for the parro..."

The judgment is up.


message 38: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (jessicaxmaria) | 27 comments Janet wrote: "Elizabeth Arnold wrote: "Janet wrote: "I read House in print so I'd like to listen to the audio....Urrea is the consummate performer so maybe Paskin will be drawn to that. She will surely have an a..."

I'm glad you'll still be following the tournament! :)


message 39: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1631 comments So Lucky v Broken Angels: https://themorningnews.org/tob/2019/t...


message 40: by Janet (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 630 comments Jessica wrote: "Janet wrote: "Elizabeth Arnold wrote: "Janet wrote: "I read House in print so I'd like to listen to the audio....Urrea is the consummate performer so maybe Paskin will be drawn to that. She will su..."

For now anyway, if I can get wifi in remote parts of Mexico. Notice that Paskin described the ending of House as cinematic. Elizabeth was right about her proclivities. I'm torn between laying out all the reasons I loved this book in today's commentariat or saving it. Surely to god it can beat The Overstory.


message 41: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 705 comments Janet wrote: "I'm torn between laying out all the reasons I loved this book in today's commentariat or saving it. Surely to god it can beat The Overstory.."

More judge stalking. :) Tomi Obaro is the senior culture editor for Buzzfeed. So I'm 99% sure Angels will win over Overstory...


message 42: by Janet (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 630 comments Elizabeth Arnold wrote: "Janet wrote: "I'm torn between laying out all the reasons I loved this book in today's commentariat or saving it. Surely to god it can beat The Overstory.."

More judge stalking. :) Tomi Obaro is t..."


You're rather good at this stalking business ;-)


message 43: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 705 comments Janet wrote: "You're rather good at this stalking business ;-) "

I swear I don't do it regularly, haha. But it's been fun during the tournament.


message 44: by Alison (new)

Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 444 comments Katherine wrote: "..making me strongly consider breaking my 2019 book buying moratorium ..."

I vote you buy a hardcover copy. It's such a satisfying size and shape and the cover is just perfect.


message 45: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Hanes | 125 comments Lark wrote: "Carmel I think one of the things the book does brilliantly is put all the needed clues for the reader to go either way, to either think Ayoola is a female-coded remorseless serial killer, or to thi..."

I couldn't agree more, Lark. I think an original question was whether or not the judge's gender played a role in his interpretations, and I think it did, just as our own does, within all that space left open for personal interpretation. :)


message 46: by Jason (new)

Jason Perdue | 591 comments I liked, didn't love, HoBA. I'm kind of lukewarm on this whole side of the bracket. Rooting for There There more than any of the others.

Not a fan of the no commentary day. It's become one of my favorite parts of the whole experience.


message 47: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 61 comments Jason wrote: "I liked, didn't love, HoBA. I'm kind of lukewarm on this whole side of the bracket. Rooting for There There more than any of the others.

Not a fan of the no commentary day. It's become one of my f..."


I agree, I have found that to be more insightful than most of the judgments. The analysis was a bit of a nail biter, huh? It seemed to be going in the other direction so I'm glad the beautiful ending of HoBA put it over the top.

I'm not sure if it can topple Milkman for the win but I have HoBA going to the finals!


message 48: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 65 comments I'm hoping America is Not the Heart wins this side.

The judgment today seems like another one where the judge just wasn't too keen on either novel. But even so this time the judge pushed through personal first impressions and tried to understand each book and wrote with respect.


message 49: by Tristan (new)

Tristan | 83 comments So happy to see House of Broken Angels advance.

I'm not sure what to hope for tomorrow. I didn't love either novel.


message 50: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 705 comments Tristan wrote: "So happy to see House of Broken Angels advance.

I'm not sure what to hope for tomorrow. I didn't love either novel."


I'd choose The Mars Room. I thought it was well-written, gritty and fascinating with really well-drawn characters, I liked it so much better than I thought I would. Whereas I couldn't get through The Parking Lot Attendant...It was unique, maybe, but impenetrable and not well put together. It just seemed like a first novel to me. I tried both print and audio, but it was a DNF.


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