My Favorite Lit-Blog Things: January 20, 2011 Update

The Reading Ape has the scoop and excellent analysis.

My quick thoughts:

1. I was hoping for Matterhorn too. I haven’t read it, but I would have looked forward to that. Now I have to read Room instead.

2. The judges look pretty good this year. I am betting that, in their contract, they were not allowed to go with the old, timeworn, “judge a book by its cover” bit. Balls please.

3. I still have 14 books to go. Uh oh.

4. I hope Kapitoil is really, really good. Very few of the others have me excited.

5. I guess I will find out whether I side with John Self and Kevin from Canada or those who actually liked A Visit From The Goon Squad.

6. I will be running a pool with a giveaway this year. The rules will be similar to last year’s (very long form version here), but I will write all about that as we get closer to the brackets.


6 Responses to My Favorite Lit-Blog Things: January 20, 2011 Update

  1. I’ve read six of the 16:

    — two I liked (Gordon, Murray) but they were both a little offbeat and I could see either getting beat early on. Although I’ll be cheering for the Gordon (and have thus ensured it will disappear early in the tourney).
    — two were just on the negative side of neutral (Egan, Franzen). TMN admits they pay attention to hype and award winners, so I suppose that is why they are there. And hyped books did well last year.
    — two I quite disliked (Donoghue, Jacobson) but both do have their passionate supporters. I can see both progressing but I do think each is going to run into a judge who finds them as empty as I did.

    I have heard of a few of the others but can’t say any is waiting on my book order wish list. I’ll probably wait to see how they fare in the early going before deciding whether to read them.

    (Full reviews of the six I have read are on my blog.)

    • Kerry says:

      That was pretty much how I remembered it, but glad to hear it from you (I can certainly misremember things).

      It worries me that John Self had a similar (neutral to negative) reaction to Egan and Donoghue. At least, Trevor (The Mookse and the Gripes) and Tony (Tony’s Book World) liked Egan. So, perhaps there is a 50/50 chance I will like that one. I may already be too prejudiced against Room.

      Your opinion on Jacobson seems to be in the minority, though I have been most convinced by your review. I will give it a try.

      I am hoping for one of the lesser known books to impress me. I am about halfway through Bad Marie and it is pretty good so far.

      Thanks for the rundown, Kevin.

  2. The Ape says:

    You know, I wonder if instead of having the Zombie round pick be during the brackets, they should only pick 15 themselves for the shortlist and leave one spot for reader voting to save something from the longlist.

    Does that make sense? Seems a little better than resurrecting something that has already been beaten in the judging.

    Or maybe I am just looking for a way to wedge Matterhorn back in.

    • Kerry says:

      I think that is a great idea, Ape. In fact, I think they should probably designate two “reader’s choice” picks. One at large and one from a list of small press picks. This year’s ToB seems more heavily weighted towards large press offerings than in years past. Or am I just imagining things?

      And I support all efforts to wedge Matterhorn into the mix.

  3. So the NBCC has three of five overlapping with the TOB shortlist (Franzen, Egan and Murray) — which does offer some promise about a comparison between the judgment of paid critics and the more populist “jury” as both events unfold.

    Interesting that both novels on the NBCC list that are missing from this one are translations. TOB obviously includes them but I suspect the relatively low-profile of many translated works means they tend to get overlooked in this contest. That is an observation not a criticism — one of the intriguing aspects of the TOB is its willingness to throw different genres into the mix, something that has not yet arrived in other genres.

    • Kerry says:


      The NBCC finalists make me somewhat happier with the ToB shortlist. The ToB seems to be shifting a bit to a tournament of the most talked about books rather than a tournament of “overlooked” books. Maybe the ideal use of the ToB is to pit award winners versus award winners in a transparent evaluation process. I kind of like when there are more “off the beaten track” choices, but more “award winners” mean more books have a fair shot at winning the title. This year seems a bit more wide open to me than in year’s past. But maybe that’s because so many of the would-be “beasts” have received very mixed reviews.

      I agree that the willingness of the ToB to pull in different genres is intriguing. I like the smattering of small press books, but would still like more. I am greedy that way.

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