The Morning News First Annual Tournament of Books has begun. Winners are announced each weekday at this URL. Have you taken a look at the competition and made any predictions or wishes? You can download a sheet of brackets, showing which books are pitted against each other and who the judges will be. Two matches have been decided, and I don’t think the results even approach predictability. Long-time fans of The Morning News will fair better than outclassed upstarts like me because winning will come more from the judges’ individual tastes than general book quality. (But then, do you read most books because you like them or because someone said they will be good for you?)
The first match in round one had Roth’s The Plot Against America against Shepard’s The Bad Boy’s Wife. The safe bet was Roth, I think, and his book did pull through, but not by much. Judge Claire Miccio didn’t like it, but gave it more points for spots of strong prose.
Today, Tuck’s The News from Paraguay took a dive in front of Boyle’s The Inner Circle. Could you see that coming? Judge Choire Sicha doesn’t say much about what he calls, “Tuck’s strange postmodern bodice-ripper,” so we may never know. Our own Mr. Holtsberry may agree. He says, in his review a few weeks ago, “At times it has the feel of fictionalized history as romance paperback. There is a tendency toward the sexual and scatological. the components never seem to rise to the level of art; of aesthetic and literary meaning deeper than mere description.”
What about Boyle’s The Inner Circle? Sicha calls it “surprisingly filthy and surprisingly readable.” Filthy? you ask. Yes, the title refers to Dr. Alfred Kinsey’s inner circle of “researchers” and perverts.
The tournament is sponsored by Powell’s Books.