Unofficial TOB 2013 Contest: Leaderboard – Round 1, Match 3 Results

That didn’t take long. I’m out.

The thing is, words can hurt. They can hurts in lots of ways, but especially when the words Charles Yu writes in his bracket are different than the words I write in my bracket. It’s like my words don’t exist, like they fell from my lips into the void that awaits us all with its depth, its darkness, and, most of all, its chilly indifference.


Match 2, Round 1
The Orphan Master’s Son (84%) beat Where’d You Go Bernadette (16%)

Match 3, Round 1
Building Stories (56%) advanced on a technicality over Dear Life (44%)

Leaderboard – Round 1, Match 3

1. (Perfect: Four points) Mike R., Christopher H., Linda J., Susan S.

5. (Three points) Lydia P., Jane Eyre, Jayme G., Neil R., Julie W., Jed S., Felicity, Andrew B., Jeremy Z.

Also, seven contestants could still tie the all-time worst score of one. But I won’t get anybody’s hopes up by naming names until we at least get out of the first round.

Congratulations to the slightly shrunken lead group. Yellow draws attention, as do positive tests for performance enhancing drugs (acid, I presume, because that’s what you’d have to be dropping to prefer Building Stories to Dear Life and this doesn’t mean I am bitter), so watch your backs.

16 Responses to Unofficial TOB 2013 Contest: Leaderboard – Round 1, Match 3 Results

  1. As one of the seven, tying the worst all-time score is all that is left for me. I’ll admit that I am disinterested enough in the three winners so far that I’m not breathlessly awaiting future matches.

    • Drat. I forgot I got the play-in right — so I can’t even content myself with worst ever.

      • Kerry says:

        You and me both, Kevin. Already this early, consigned to mediocrity in predicting the TOB.

        I am rooting for Dear Life to come back, though I doubt it has the votes (it has mine). Also, I am rooting for The Orphan Master’s Son. There are still serious contenders I have not read, but those are the two I really see as worthy. Bring Up the Bodies is good, but not as good as Wolf Hall. I would hate to see Mantel be the first repeat (where is Morrison? Diaz?) when her sequel is not as good as the original.

        On selections, I have a feeling they tend to disqualify prior winners and shoe-in the Booker. I suppose the Booker gravitas outweighs the prejudice against including books by former winners. I’d rather the bar against authors who’ve won trump all other rules, if that is going to be an unspoken rule.

        But, as I suspect the case is with you, they aren’t picking books the way I would like anyway. A few award winners, a few best sellers, and then also-rans that don’t seem to be as good as many equally unsung books that are out there. I would trend away from best sellers and debut novels.

    • 2012 was a bad year for me, generally, when it came to Prizes. I only read one of the Booker short list after more than a decade of reading it all (and the entire longlist in most of those years). I still intend to get to Mantel and Self eventually, but the others hold no interest.

      And I was also grumpy with the Giller Prize longlist, although there were a couple of good titles there.

      So the ToB just becomes another Prize list that diverges from my tastes and interests. I’m hoping that is just a 2012 thing and not a harbinger of what is to come (for me and my tastes, that is). Although I must admit 2013 is not off to a good start — almost three months in and I have yet to read a new title.

      • Kerry says:

        Have you read any George Saunders? I haven’t posted here yet (time and catching up on prior reads), but Tenth of December is a very good collection (though you may have seen his stories in the New Yorker and elsewhere already).

      • I haven’t read Saunders. My short story pile is too high already and I read enough negative reviews of the collection that I am pretty sure it isn’t for me.

      • Kerry says:

        I understand about piles of short story collections. It seems I have been reading far more of those recently than usual.

        Other than the Saunders, I haven’t read any 2013 books either. But, then, it’s typical for me not to read the year’s offerings right away.

  2. Julie says:

    There is absolutely no way that I thought Building Stories was better than Dear Life. This was one choice where I looked at who was judging and decided to go for the weird-and-wacky. I felt he gave good reviews for both books … but wasn’t surprised by his choice.

    • Kerry says:

      Thank you for that. I like to think it is because Yu is weird, rather than that I am weird, that I was wrong. And picking your own (by which I mean my own) favorites is always fraught with certain early elimination. Doh.

  3. I attribute my picking Building Stories to having read neither of the books involved.It’s the only way to stay impartial.

  4. Bookish Jojo says:

    again – i failed to account for the judge!! i really need to take a pause and think these things through in future. haha!!

    before this pairing was posted i had the “OF COURSE he’s gonna choose BUILDING STORIES!” moment.

    given today’s result – Billy Lynn v. May We Be Forgive – i am thinking i shall employ the darts & dartboard strategy for the 2014 tournament. or let my dog choose? ūüôā

    i find this year to be really stuck on the idea of what is being achieved with the Tournament? are they looking for the ‘best book of 2012’, as noted in their ‘about the tournament’ notes:

    “…where 16 of the previous year‚Äôs best works of fiction enter a March Madness-style battle royale. At the end of the month, the winner of the Tournament is blessed with the Rooster…”

    because of course that is so subjective but makes for interesting debates. i guess it’s the criteria for inclusion that’s escaping me. it’s a confusing roster this year.

    (i am not expressing this well at all, so apologies there for my fragmented thinking.)

    • Kerry says:

      I too did not take into account the judges’ proclivities this year. Not that it made a difference when I had…..

      I agree that it is a strange roster this year. I found myself less interested in the field as a whole. I cannot say why. Beautiful Ruins was a good book to include, a non-celebrity author, highly regarded, etc. But the subject matter sounds extremely unappealing to me.

      I do think they put some effort into first round matchups, though. For instance, HHhH vs. Bring Up the Bodies is made for this sort of matchup. Achilles vs. Beautiful Ruins and Dear Life vs. Building Stories, the war novels as play-in, are all good matches on paper. I think the matches are, in some cases, better than the books. I’d prefer it the other way.

      • i agree – i actually have really enjoyed the pairings and the arguments from the judges and moderators has been great. but i am still a bit confused by the whole purpose — is this really their search for the ‘best book of 2012’? for some reason, it feels like the intent has changed this year.

      • Like you and Jennifer, I am finding the decision and commentary more interesting that the prospect of reading the winners (or losers) that I haven’t read. In fact, the thoughtful first-round pairings are the most positive part of the ToB so far.

        All of this (together with other 2012 prize lists) is tending to confirm my going-in impression that this simply was not a very good year for fiction. The judges decisions have been well-argued, even if I might disagree with the outcome once or twice. Whatever…so far, the tournament is proof positive that my reading time is better invested elsewhere. And that conclusion is a tribute to the ToB, not a criticism.

      • Kerry says:

        I tend to think you are correct that this was an off year. 2010 and 2011 were both much better, I think. Though, I think the TOB would look better with Toni Morrison’s Home and Zadie Smith’s NW in the mix. (Of course, that might weight it too heavily toward known quantities when part of the purpose is exploring the lesser knowns.) I haven’t read either the Morrison (on hand) or the Z. Smith (not on hand), but have heard good things. And when isn’t Morrison good.

        But I think you are right to graze elsewhere, start in on 2013 fiction. Whether it is 2012 or the slice the TOB cut from it, the Munro is the only one I’ve read that I would recommend to you if that wouldn’t be so absurd given our relative knowledge of her work.

        As always, I will continue to enjoy discovering what you’ve read instead.

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