TOB 2010: Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned vs. The Anthologist

I have picked The Anthologist to move on, but this is one of those pairings I wish was in the second round. Everything Ravaged has a fair claim to move forward for having one of the best titles in the field. But, as good as some of the stories are, I do not think the whole is as great as the sum of The Anthologist‘s parts. It is the nature of the short story collection versus a novel that a novel can, generally, burrow deeper into its subject. That is, I think, the case here. Add to that the fact that Baker’s work is more original in terms of subject and structure and I have to stick with Baker.

Still, Tower has some very, very good stories in this collection and even the weakest are quite readable. If he is declared the winner, I would not say that the result is unjust, simply that it is not the result I would have chosen.

If Baker wins, Lizzy will take over as the undisputed leader with five out of six available points and two matches to go in the First Round. If Tower wins, Chris and Christy share the five-of-six lead with an inevitable parting of the ways tomorrow. Still, any of five contestants could own or share the lead by Friday and everyone still has a mathematical shot as the vast majority of points are still up for grabs.

[Update: Baker wins; Lizzy has the lead. There is a four-way tie for second at 4/6.]

6 Responses to TOB 2010: Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned vs. The Anthologist

  1. I know almost none of these books you are doing (except for, say, Lacuna) – but am watching your posts with fascination. I’ve never heard of Tournament of the Books before.

  2. Kerry says:

    I am glad you are enjoying the Tournament, which is the main goal. If one of the contenders strikes your fancy, that’s a bonus. Both of these (The Anthologist and Everything Ravaged) are very good. I recommend either or both. They are good enough, I will seek out more of Baker’s work and will keep an eye out for more by Tower.

  3. Christy says:

    Kerry – As you were rooting against The Help, I was rooting against The Anthologist. I’m still wondering what I missed, because I gave up after the first chapter. For me it was unreadable. I actively disliked the narrator, I had no interest in any of his digressions, and not a single sentence engaged me. Just a gut reaction I guess, but I couldn’t take this book back to the library fast enough.

    I picked Tower to win this match up before I’d even read his book. Now that I’ve read it, I’m blown away. He writes about men that I know. Men who are messed up, aggressive, angry, and just can’t figure out what went wrong. And to tie up all those stories about modern men with one about marauding Vikings… genius.

  4. Kerry says:


    I reviewed The Anthologist here. I obviously really liked it. I do have to agree that the narrative portions lacked the punch of any of Tower’s stories, but I thought it elegant and found the understatement powerful if not pugilistic. Of course, the narrator of The Anthologist is an almost entirely different sort of man from those who populate Everything Ravaged, so there is that.

    The biggest impact for me, though, were the poetry digressions. If you did not find them fascinating, the book likely would become a chore. As I explain in my review, it could be my relative ignorance of poetry that kept me transfixed. Whatever the case, I was bewitched, but am not at all surprised that others were not at all intrigued. I think The Anthologist is very much a hit or miss kind of book. I believe it is objectively very good, just not good for everyone.

    I cannot say I am sorry your villain has moved on, but I can very nearly assure you that the next round will see The Anthologist‘s comeuppance.

  5. Kerry: I picked the books that I liked best and did not try to second-guess the judges. I’d say that shows how out of step I am. Oh well, still love reading the outcome each day, even if I sm going to finish last in your contest.


  6. Kerry says:


    You are still easily in the thick of things. Russo could hurt, but he could easily be one of the Zombies. Russo has lots of fans and it was a good book. I generally tried to pick the books I want to win (except for the Zombies; there, I intentionally picked books I thought were popular and which I didn’t (or thought I wouldn’t) like; so they could get trounced again.)

    Anyway, the best part is reading the outcome and the commentary. The contest is definitely ancillary. Even if it does not go so well, I really appreciate your early participation and your continued support.

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