Unofficial ToB Contest: Round 1, Match 4 Preview

Current Leaderboard:

Kevin from Canada retains his yellow jersey with The Finkler Question‘s win today. He still has plenty of company (roughly 20 are perfect). And nobody is more than two points off the lead.

The predicted winner of tomorrow’s match: A Visit From the Goon Squad

Contest Entrants’ Choices: 60% A Visit From the Goon Squad vs. 40% Skippy Dies

Perhaps the most unfortunate first round matchup has the favorite to win it all, A Visit From the Goon Squad (a whopping 37% of entrants chose Egan’s novel as the eventual winner), going up against Murray’s much loved Skippy Dies which is the second most picked novel to win it all (16% of entrants chose it). Not only should these books have been separated in the initial round, they should have been in separate halves of the brackets. But, we work with what we are given.

This is the third match in which I have read, so far, only one of the contenders. I have picked Skippy Dies to win it all in a Goon Squad/Skippy Dies Finals rematch. Goon Squad, however, was and is my pick to take this first round match. Egan’s work beautifully swirls around the lives of a cast of characters connected, in some way, to music industry executive Bennie Salazar, or I could have picked Lou or Rhea or Sasha. The characters are all within six degrees of Kevin Bacon and each other. It hardly matters who you peg as the center. Egan’s control of these connected, sometimes closely, sometimes tenuously, stories to make a point about time and the multi-faceted nature of modern man is awesome. I expect Skippy Dies to be a lovable book, but A Visit from the Goon Squad deserves its top seed and at least one win.

[Oops. I meant to “Schedule” the post, not post it. See, I am working ahead….heh…]


6 Responses to Unofficial ToB Contest: Round 1, Match 4 Preview

  1. Jennifer D. says:

    I am cheering for Skippy Dies in this round. As Goon Squad just snagged an NBCC award, I am a little ascaird (that’s right, “ascaird”) now that my choice for this pairing, though well intentioned, will see me going down in a sputtering attempt not even approximating a blaze of glory. 😕

    C’mon underdog!

    • Kerry says:

      Goon Squad probably has another award or two coming. Still, if there is a book that could knock it off in the first round, it is Skippy Dies. These two really should not have met in the first round. This is cruel, especially given that So Much For That and Lemon Cake were both seeded higher. I really think Skippy should have been paired with Finkler and the pairing committee could have let Goon Squad dispatch Savages. Then the top half would give us Room v. Freedom and Skippy v. Goon Squad. As it is, a good book will soon have to develop an appetite for brains if it really wants the Rooster.

  2. I suspect I will be losing the yellow jersey on Friday — although I fully agree with you that these two should not have been put against each other in the first round. I suspect that the organizers were quite aware they were facing off in the NBCC and thought this would add some spice to that debate. And I can’t really fault them for that.

    • Kerry says:

      Well, Goon Squad did win, so the contest does have new leaders. Hopefully, we have not seen the last of Skippy Dies.

      And I hope I do not sound negative about the whole pairing thing either. There are some excellent first round matchups. I would have changed a few things, but, overall, they did well this year. Bloodroot and Lemon Cake is a good match (similar readership), Finkler vs. Savages gave a good opportunity for an upset (complete contrast), Model Home and Next are optimally paired for upsets as well. And you are correct about the NBCC thing.

      So, it does make some sense to pair Skippy and Goon. I just wanted to see them both in the second round.

      • JW says:

        I, too, was glad to see the Bloodroot/Lemon Cake pairing, not just for the similar readership but for the two very different approaches to magical realism. Yeah, they definitely fudged with the seeding to do it, giving Lemon Cake what should have been Skippy‘s 2 seed and contributing to this unfortunate first round matchup. I suspect that they figured since both are reader favorites, no matter who loses will be back.

        My main complaint is Goon/Skippy/Room/Freedom all on the same side of the bracket. That might be 4 of my top 5 right there. But what I still haven’t gotten over is the omission of Jacob de Zoet. Oh well.

      • Kerry says:


        Great point about the magical realism. That is, actually, the most interesting aspect of comparison and one I touched on in my review of Bloodroot (basically, I liked the way Bloodroot handled/used the magical better than how Lemon Cake did). And you are absolutely right that Skippy deserved the 2 seed over Lemon Cake.

        I am with you. The two sides of the bracket are very unevenly weighted. Goon, Freedom, Room, The Finkler Question easily overpower Lord of Misrule, So Much For That, Super Sad True, and Lemon Cake(!). I think they tried to even things out by (excepting Skippy) putting stronger low seeds in the Super Sad side of the bracket); seeding the books 1-16 and putting 1 and 4 on one side and 2 and 3 on the other would keep things more evenly matched. Of course, then it is much less likely that you will ever get a Freedom vs. Room and Skippy vs. Goon AND Finkler vs. Goon AND Freedom vs. Goon AND…..

        That’s what I assume must have been the motivation. Also, it is less likely that some upstart (Model Home) will make it two or three rounds.

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