TOB 2010: The Lacuna v. Miles From Nowhere

I want Miles From Nowhere to win because it feels fresh and new, while The Lacuna feels old and a little stale. That’s the feeling I get. It really says next to nothing about the works, but that’s why I want Mun’s work to win.

I believe Miles From Nowhere made it back from the dead on the strength of observations like this when Joon is helping her mother pile Joon’s father’s things in the front yard:

“Did you grab everything?”

I nodded and looked down at the slippers he’d bought me, wondering if they were supposed to go into the pile…With all the lighter fluid, the pile lit up fast, the flash instantly warming my face. I stood there and didn’t try to stop her because I loved her too much then. I knew it wasn’t good to burn all of Dad’s things, but how can you not love someone who lets you see them in all that pain? For the first time, I saw her clearly, as if I were inside a dream of hers, watching all her thoughts. She wasn’t putting on an act. She wasn’t being a nurse. She wasn’t being a mother or a wife or a good Christian. She was just dropping to her knees, inches from the fire, and sliding her thin arms into the flames.

While not perfect, the scene is gripping.

But Miles From Nowhere should not win. Kingsolver has a rare slip of prose, but she is more inventive with her language and her story. Mun lost the match when she stumbled through an important moment:

He had no idea that grief was a reward. That it only came to those who were loyal, to those who loved more than they were capable of.

As much as I would like to see Kingsolver’s novel lose, I think it neither should nor will.

2 Responses to TOB 2010: The Lacuna v. Miles From Nowhere

  1. While your reasoning was not what I would characterize as “straight-forward” in this post, I do find it interesting that it was reflected in the actual judging (which was one of the better posts in the ToB this year). I can’t see how Wolf Hall doesn’t win yet another prize.

  2. Kerry says:

    You are quite right. Out of 16 books, the one I only partially read on audiobook has to make it to the semifinals. I have previously written most of what I have to say about the unfinished fragment to which I subjected myself. Not my own best effort, but I am happy that my points were pretty well matched in the best official post in the ToB. I urge everyone to go to the official decision for an excellent analysis of these two works and their relative merits and deficiencies. (Thank you Sam Anderson for partially redeeming the 2010 ToB.)

    I agree that Wolf Hall should win. There is a chance that Fever Chart will capitalize on some Wolf Hall fatigue or that the judge will reject Wolf Hall because it feels inevitable and the judge hates inevitability. I will be quite disappointed if any book other than Wolf Hall wins.

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