Tuesday, March 8, 2011

TOB: Week One Picks


My sentence-making skills are back! (I think. Let's see how this goes).

Room vs Bad Marie
Both of these books feature relationships between a woman and a child. Ma and her son, Jack, in Room. And Marie and Caitlin, a child she babysits, kidnaps, and drags across several oceans.

I think Room should win this one pretty handily. I think it's better, more tightly constructed. Bad Marie is a book I enjoyed way more than expected. Marie really isn't bad, she's just not bound by the same morals as others. She's does whatever feels right, and if that defies all common sense and logic, so be it. If I knew Marie in real life, I'd have strangled her. As it is, she's a pretty interesting character. I just felt like the plot completely peters out. She drifts aimlessly from place to place because that's how she is, but as a novel, it's not a completely satisfying read. There's a series of far-fetched coincidences, and the relationship between Marie and Caitlin isn't very believable. I think that's another downfall of the book compared to Room, where the fierce love between Ma and Jack held me spellbound.

Savages vs. The Finkler Question
Savages is a thriller and a page turner. I really liked it, but it's not great literature. I'm not even sure why it's included. It's as violent as one of those Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books, so it's a lot more pulpy than any of the other choices. Either way, I'm going to call it as the winner. Why? Because I despised The Finkler Question. That book was self-satisfied nonsense. Nothing happened. Or maybe I should say nothing believable happened. You know how men bag on "chick flicks" and "chick lit"? This kind of book is total Dick Lit to me. I literally don't even get what this dude's problem is, or why I should be interested in it. Most amazing, this book in many reviews is referred to as a great COMIC novel. But it ain't funny. The funniest joke is the book seemed to be that the main character, Julian Treslove, had affairs with 2 different women who both got pregnant, neither aware of the other's existence. He convinced the women to go with the names Rudolpho and Alfredo. The boys' nicknames are....wait for it...Ralf and Alf. This is supposed to be funny? Barf.

A Visit From the Goon Squad vs. Skippy Dies
Tough match up for ol' Skippy. As you know, I found my peace with Skippy Dies. It's genuinely funny, unlike Finkler, and really grapples with why we tell stories, and what it means to be human. I think Goon Squad is working with those same questions, only from a totally different perspective. Skippy is big, sprawling, and messy. Goon Squad is tightly controlled, with small pieces of information being doled out for the reader to remember and put together. I keep imagining the wall in Jennifer Egan's house where she mapped out the plot, timeline, and characters in this book. It must be epic, because it's seamless and nothing is out of place. The other thing is that I finished Skippy Dies and I feel sort of done with it, I finished Goon Squad a few months ago, and I still think about it. It's destined for the re-read pile, for me, that's the surest sign of a winner.

Still working on reading a few books for next week, so I'll post more about those picks then!


  1. Of these, I've only read Room and I loved it, so I hope it wins its bracket. I'm very interested in Savages, since I like a little pulp. ;) But now I'm also curious about Goon Squad, even though I was reluctant when I first read about it.

    Screwtape is suffering because not one, but *two* authors I enjoy have released books this month and they are winning. ;) But it's going. Still not sure what I'm going to say about it. There's... a lot to say, but it's difficult to say it. (At least, for me.) Might have to check out what others have said. (When I'm done, of course.)

  2. Okay, so I thought today's judge did an excellent job. She not only judges the match, but then rounds up by talking about why "women's fiction" and female authors never gets as much attention as men. It's great!

    I hope you'll have a chance to read it. It's right on the main tournament page.


    PS 2 for 2!

  3. K,

    Here's a progress report:

    I picked 3 out of the 4 winners this week. Yay! The Finkler Question won, which I knew would happen, but I'm still disappointed.

    Coming up next week, I'm still trying to read Super Sad True Love Story and Model Home for that match up. I've started Super Sad and I'm not feeling too excited about it yet, but I've also been pretty distracted.

    Another good thing about the tournament, I've found myself poking around and reading some other people's book blogs. That's pretty cool, and not anything I've explored before


    PS How do you feel about making some buttons for my upcoming Glee party?

  4. K,

    Also, this is funny: http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/opinions/the_greatest_book_review_ever.php


  5. I so agree with your opinion of "The Finkler Question" - makes you wonder how brai-dead the Booker panel must have been