Wednesday, 20 March 2013

2013 Tournament of Books 8th Opening Round and the 1st Quarter Final Round


Tournament of Books 8th and last Opening Round

This is the  last opening round of Tournament of Books 2013 and will be judged by D.T. Max who is the author of ‘The Family That Couldn’t Sleep’ and ‘Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace’.


Arcadia starts off in the late 60’s in a commune somewhere in Western part of New York State and finishes in 2018 all told through the eyes of a boy called Bit.

How Should a Person Be? is fictional but also partly autobiographical. The main character, Sheila, is a twenty-something playwright who finds herself unsure of how to live and create. When Margaux, a talented painter and free spirit, and Israel, a sexy and depraved artist, enter her life, Sheila hopes that through close--sometimes too close--observation of her new friend, her new lover, and herself, she might regain her footing in art and life.

D. T. felt that ‘in most senses of the word, Lauren Groff’s Arcadia is a better novel than Sheila Heti’s’ with some ‘nice moments, nicely captured, such as ““Gingery Eden, her pregnant belly enormous, cracks a bottle of pop over the hood of the Blue Bus and rubs her back when she stands. The dazzle of her white teeth under her copper hair makes Bit want to dance.”
However, Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? was so much more enjoyable for D.T. He felt there was more truth in the way it was written and it was funny, something he feels is underrated in fiction.

So for D.T. the winner had to be How Should a Person Be?


The next round is the quarter final round and will be judged as such;

March 19   The Fault in Our Stars v. The Orphan Master’s Son judged by Stefan Beck
March 20   Building Stories v. May We Be Forgiven judged by Caity Weaver
March 21   Gone Girl v. Beautiful Ruins judged by Kate Bolick
March 22   How A Person Should Be? v. Bring Up The Bodies judged by Saeed Jones




Judged by Stefan Beck, who has written for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Sun, the Weekly Standard, the New Criterion, the Barnes & Noble Review and other publications.

For me personally, I think it’s a no brainier on who wins this round but let’s see what Stefan thinks.

To start with he felt they were two of the most entertaining books he’s read in ages. His idea of the target audience for each books made me laugh ‘Fault is YA lit designed to make brainy teens cry themselves to sleep, while Orphan is brainy spy lit designed to make middle-aged Stratford subscribers drink themselves to death.’ Though, he did agree that their appeal is far wider than that.
By now we all know what The Fault in our Stars is about two kids with cancer and The Orphan Master’s Son is about surviving in North Korea.

He felt the two main characters in The Fault in our Stars, ‘Hazel and Augustus, with their sarcasm (Augustus calls losing a leg “an excellent weight-loss strategy”), tough-minded philosophizing, and occasional vulnerability, are terrific and Green’s genius is to make Hazel sound superficially like a teenager (her cancer-ruined lungs, e.g., “suck at being lungs”) but mostly like an individual, with personality and interiority, fear and love, and vast reserves of wonder and gratitude.’

For Stefan ‘Adam Johnson’s plot of Orphan is too byzantine to describe in even twice the space I have here, but that’s just as well. The less you know going in, the more thrilling the ride—and, in any case, the plot is but a small The author has not only interviewed defectors but visited North Korea himself hence how ‘he captured the ugly spirit of a place ruled by secrecy, mythomania, and brutality.’ One thing Stefan particularly loved was the ‘North Korean nightmare for comedy, albeit of the coal-black variety, and makes the DPRK look ridiculous as well as evil. Whether it’s the Greek chorus supplied by propaganda loudspeakers, the disastrous diplomatic mission to a Texas ranch, or the Dear Leader’s dialogue, Orphan earns more laughs than most books actually trying to be funny.’

The Orphan Master’s Son, as I expected won this round and goes through to the Zombie round.

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