Unofficial ToB X Contest: One to Go

The mighty have stumbled. Jennifer, Life After Life was the end of yours, I am afraid. Those four extra points (a perfect eight in the Semis) put Adam in the driver’s seat. Well, those four points and correctly picking an early and everlasting exit for The Luminaries.

Entering the Championship Match:

1. 24 Points – Adam S.

2. 21 Points – Jennifer D.

3. 20 Points – Laura C.

4. 16 Points – Jeremy Z.

5. 15 Points – Michelle W.

6. 14 Points – Jim M.

7. 13 Points – Katie M.

8. 12 Points – Susan S., Mike R., Me

Even if you are out of the running for a prize, I will be happy if your favorite wins tomorrow.

FYI, I have read the following contenders, ranked in order of preference, tonight:

1. The Luminaries^
2. The Good Lord Bird*
3. At Night We Walk in Circles*
4. Life After Life
5. The Goldfinch
6. Long Division*
7. The Dinner*
8. The Tuner of Silences*

I am not sorry to have read any of them. In fact, four from the top five (but not Life After Life which I enjoyed more for the idea than the ultimate execution) could easily jostle to the top of my favorite ToB X contender. And positions 4-7 could also reshuffle. The only book I disliked was The Tuner of Silences, but I suspect the culprits are (1) magical realism and (2) my unfamiliarity with the relevant political and cultural touch points.

Also, my favorite reads published in 2013 also included:

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing – Eimear McBride
The Tenth of December – George Saunders
Claire of the Sea Light – Edwidge Danticat

I would have loved for any of these three to have been in the ToB. Eimear McBride is a revelation. People interested in new, exciting literary voices should check her out.

*Almost certainly would not have read it but for the ToB.
^I am a long-time fan of Eleanor Catton, meaning I read her first book, The Rehearsal, a couple months before the ToB and decided I would read the rest of her work until she lays down the pen ever after.

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15 Responses to Unofficial ToB X Contest: One to Go

  1. Nice to see you posting again Kerry. Your posts on the TOB are a hoot. Would love to know, though, in a little more detail – when you have the time, mind – about you love of Catton. I read The luminaries and enjoyed it, but … what, really, do you think it was about?

    • Kerry says:

      Thanks, as always, for stopping by. I know I’ve been a bit of a ghost. I do lurk over at your blog. I will take some time to give my thoughts on Catton, but I am not sure I will be able to give any sort of accurate answer to your question.

      Thanks again and I will post a full response, I would say soon, but let’s say not too far in the future.

  2. Kerry, thanks again for hosting your ToB brackets. I love the ToB and the brackets just add to it. I have even started holding my very own bracketology for my book club.

    • Kerry says:

      Sorry you just missed out. I thought you were going to sneak all the way to the lead. Thanks for playing and sounds like lots of fun with your book club.

      I hope you’ll play again next ToB.

  3. thanks, again, for coordinating the fun, kerry!! it was pretty exciting this year!! congratulations to adam for his awesome, and perfect late-round display! i am thrilled with the winning decision today and hope more people will have discovered some great books during the TOBX process.

    eimear mcbride is on my radar for her longlist inclusion for the ‘women’s prize in fiction’. i am reading through the 11 of 20 books i own from the list. http://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/2014-prize/longlist-2014

    • Kerry says:

      You are most welcome! I am just sorry you had the yellow jersey almost from the start and then, thanks Adam, had it stolen in the final two rounds. Late perfection is rewarded.

      That is an interesting list. I will be checking out your highlights from that list. I am going back first to Half a Yellow Sun before tackling Americanah, but your endorsement of the latter will (assuming her first as as brilliant as everyone always says) push it to the top of my ToB. It looks like a very eclectic list (my way of saying, in this case, a quite uneven collection).

      If you do get to A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, I will be curious your reaction. (It is definitely not a book I would recommend to everyone, but it plays with language so. And successfully, I think.)

      Cheers!

      • Hi Kerry! Oh, heck – that’s totally okay. I was gobsmacked to see my name in the lead, so that was glory enough. I am usually way, waaay down and out with my predictions. Haha!!

        FWIW – had I not read Adichie’s previous books, I would have 5-starred ‘Americanah’. I found some themes and characters similar from earlier works, so had slight disappointment in that regard. But, ‘Americanah’ is still my favourite from her, and I found it a bit richer/more layered.

        Have you read ‘The Flamethrowers’ yet? I loved that book so much. Wow. And I am still a bit of a champion for ‘The Signature of All Things’ – it just came out of nowhere for me and I found it quite lush. (I haven’t read EPL, and didn’t have expectations going into TSoAT.)

        Thanks, again, for TOB fun!!

      • Kerry says:

        I am happy you enjoyed the ToB and had some fun with the Unofficial Contest. To explain my almost always poor performance, I assume it is pretty random. Yeah, I’m just a mote floating on the ether of the universe.

        I am looking forward to both Adichie books. I am happy you liked Americanah better, that gives me something to look forward to, no matter how much I like Half a Yellow Sun.

        I have not read The Flamethrowers, I had not planned to, actually. It held some intrigue, then not, and now you make a case for it. I am pretty sure I cannot give The Signature of All Things a fair shake. I found the excerpt published in OneStory to be okay, but not enticing.

        Thanks again, for entering. I have started on my 2014 reading, Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea, halfway through and I am hoping it makes the ToB.

      • kerry, did you review ‘a girl is a half-formed thing’ anywhere?? :)

      • Kerry says:

        Not yet. I keep meaning to do so, but time, time! I won’t get to it until May because a major work-related (legal) writing project will occupy me all of April. However, while not quite as “fun” as Henehan’s novel that I love and want everyone else to love, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is amazingly original too and, so, close to my heart in its own way.

        So, I am shooting for May and it will appear here.

        Thanks for checking!

      • Sorry, Kerry!! I didn’t mean to pressure you to post a review on the blog. I guess I was wondering if you maybe use Goodreads or LibraryThing? And maybe if you had written something brief at either place. :)

      • Kerry says:

        No pressure, I wanted to write a review. You inquiry just gives me another reason as, in these matters, I have been very lenient with myself lately.

        FYI, usually, any review at Goodreads (which I do use) is a (possibly condensed) version of a review I first posted here.

  4. Adam S. says:

    I concur! Thank you for coordinating/hosting the Unofficial ToB contest again, Kerry. I’ve been following the ToB for 4 years now and this is my second year participating in your bracket contest. Much happier this year than last. :)

    And, Jennifer, congrats on a great run yourself! You are most gracious. I had the same winner (and [correct] tiebreaker as you, assuming you use the same avatar in the ToB comments, or maybe it was the goodreads group where I saw that [I'm still a lurker, mostly because I only have time to read the comments late in the day when all the action is over and everyone has already articulated all of my thoughts more brilliantly than I would have]), so I fully realize and respect that your run to the title almost certainly wouldn’t have been thwarted had the zombies wound up on the other sides of the bracket.

    As for my booting The Luminaries early on and for good, that choice was my picking against one of my favorite books whose matchup looked to me like it would work against it. It got my zombie vote and was my favorite (until it was supplanted as my fave upon my finishing The Son the day before its round 1 tilt).

    My only soul-crushing disappointment of the ToB was when the shortlist came out and my absolute favorite book published in 2013, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, did not make it off the long list. Still prefer that over every book in the tournament, although I greatly enjoyed so many of them (and I read them all this year BEFORE any of the first round matchups, play-in excepted, as I was halfway through the a-book of WUL when it faced its predicted-by-everyone demise).

    Very happy TGLB won though! It was initially my third favorite (Long Division was second…and was my worst call of the ToB, as I had it going until finally getting bounced in the zombie round), again until everything moved down one after The Son rose.

    Excited to start reading for next year!

    • Hi Adam!! Way to go!! (And yes, i use the same avatar in the TOB and on Goodreads.) My brackets must have been a mess – I never went back to consult my sheet. But it was an up and down tournament. The only pairing I went against my instinct on was ‘The Luminaries’ – which I thought would go through based on it’s cred., but which i was only so-so about. So I begrudgingly advanced it, even though my heart wasn’t behind it. In any case, I had another great time this year, and was just pleased to see my name on the leaderboard for once. Usually I am relegated to the bottom. Haha!! I hope you enjoy your books!! :D

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