18 March 2009

Literary March Madness: TMN's Tournament of Books

There's a book smackdown going on over at The Morning News, a site I keep going back to. In the Fifth Annual Tournament of Books, distinguished critics and authors are asked to compare and contrast two notable books from the past year and declare a winner. It makes for fun reading in itself, and may give the casual reader some bedside stand books to add to their list.

Some of the judges are more entertaining than others. In one bracket selection the late Roberto Bologno's acclaimed epic novel 2666 is pitted against Fae Myenne Ng's Steer Towards Rock:

He drives back up the court, the crashing of his mallet-like feet almost buried beneath the thunder of the crowd. The first book of 2666 involves obscure literary critics devoted to a mysterious, obscure German writer. He’s playing right to his crowd—all the obscure literary critics and wannabe obscure writers in the stands lunge to their feet—they’re eating it up! His victory seems absolutely assured!! Wait a second… he tries a single sentence that runs for six pages uninterrupted! But there’s no reason for it except to showcase his virility and bravado. Some of the crowd bellows ecstatically, but there are scattered groans and boos. 2666 is so distracted showing off that he drops the ball. He had it and he threw it away! Why, 2666, why??

There's a PDF bracket available, and the option to chime in yourself (titled "The Peanut Gallery"). All in all, a lot of fun and cheaper than Cliff's Notes. It's an easy way to brush up your water-cooler dialog arsenal.

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