Wednesday, May 02, 2007

“The end of the animal trade would leave more time to trap or beat to death pop star wannabes.” - Simon Cowell

How did I miss the ENTIRE Morning News 2007 Tournament of Books? It’s way more fun than the Man Booker prize, and besides, I have a raging girl-crush on Jessa Crispin, the editor of Bookslut and one of this year’s TOB judges.

OK, admittedly, I hadn’t read even half of the contending books, but this particular verrrrrry quiet night at the ref desk, this fact wound up making the recaps of the contest that much more engrossing.


Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn (her weakest novel, IMHO) made a decent showing, handily defeating Arthur and George, The Lay of the Land, and Against the Day before succumbing to Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan (which, I am so confused, I thought was knocked out in the first round by Half of a Yellow Sun; oh, wait, Zombie round, in which TOB readers get to vote a book into the competition).

The round one match-up of The Echo Maker versus The Emperor’s Children, two of the world’s most boring books, would have been enough for me to fling myself off a handy parapet. I felt for poor Marcus Sakey, whoever he is other than the judge of this pairing. Emperor's Children won. Again in my oh-so-humble opinion, Echo Maker should have made it to the second round instead, as it was at least nicely written, if dull. EC was abysmally, mind-numbingly dull AND badly written (I disagree with Jessa on this one, although her comments about the stereotypical characters are spot-on).

Monica Ali’s second novel Alentejo Blue was in contention; her first novel Brick Lane made me yawn, so I never started the second.

I don’t care for Thomas Pynchon, and Richard Ford puts me to sleep with his middle-aged male “Everyman” protagonist busy having a midlife crisis in suburban New Jersey.

WARNING: Total unpolitical incorrectness ahead…
I have not and probably will never read either Half of a Yellow Sun or The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo. Because one is about Nigeria’s civil war, and one is set in post-war Namibia (a nation recently made famous by Angelina Jolie, thankyouverymuch), and I am sorry but I don’t CARE. I mean, I care in the sense that I wish there was better, less corrupt government in many of the small African nations, and I wish the refugees were better cared for, and I wish the Tutsis and the Hutus hadn’t felt the need to go slaughtering each other; I care in the way I care about what goes on in the real world. But Africa holds zero fascination for me; there are a thousand places on this planet I would rather visit and see before I decided to go to Africa. I will eagerly devour anything I can lay hands on about India; I enjoy European novels; and we are all aware of my minor Arctic/Antarctic fetish. But I am just not particularly interested in reading about Africa. I never even made it through Things Fall Apart even though H gave it to me so I could better understand the years he spent living in Cameroon. It didn’t do anything for my understanding other than to leave me saying, “Thank God I never joined the Peace Corps and got assigned to Cameroon.” So there you have it. And now I feel all Don Imus-y.

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was the ultimate winner (also garnering the 2007 Pulitzer), and I actually have it sitting in my bedside basket to be read, now sooner rather than later. I am excited and more than a little scared. One too many people have mentioned babies cooked on spits for me to be comfortable...


Badger said...

Oh dear.

I have just bought Brick Lane TODAY, for one dollar, at HPB.

I have otherwise read none of these books.

And actually there is no otherwise, because I have not yet read Brick Lane either, because I am still slogging through Stealing Buddha's Dinner.

Because I am the slowest reader EVAH.

Joke said...

I think I got hives just from the titles of those books.


Suse said...

That Barbara Kingsolver book 'Poisonwood Bible' is about Africa and is thoroughly readable.

Agree about Things Fall Apart though. Booooring.

Gina said...

I read One Good Turn and Pride of Baghdad (which was excellent but should have been hundreds of pages longer). I've been looking at Absurdistan for a long time, as I liked The Russian Debutante's Handbook, but I've just never picked it up. And I've been dragging my feet about The Road (which I discovered that I have a reader's copy of), mostly because I have a baseless bad attitude about Cormac McCarthy. As I mentioned, though, if you read it and then recommend it, I'll give it a go.

Right now, though, I wish I could fast-forward to lunch time, so I can get back to Bright Lights, Big Ass.