In the Middle of 2020 Tournament of Books

It’s my favorite time of the year!  Tournament of Books…

Welp. I began this post the first week of March with the title “So Begins the TOB” and since that was over two weeks ago, I wish I could say only that Time Sure Flies By.  Wish I could say that I only got distracted.

But then the world turned upside down.

Sure, we can be grateful that the Tournament continues! No need to cancel any online gatherings for this joyful reading event. And it has been lovely, that the discussion has mostly focused on the books. I likely bet that the diversion has been most welcome.

So, why not? let’s talk books.

Q: Care, what are your favorites going in to this event? How are your brackets holding up?

A: Thank you for asking, but to be honest, I didn’t even fill out a bracket. I fill in a blank one as the decisions are cast.  But that is neither here nor there. My favorites from this year’s slate are:

Mary Toft; or, the Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer

 Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

 

So the Mary is out and so is Your House. Hopes all hinge on the fire children now. Nothing to See Here zombies back to life; or rather has a chance. We have a few more rounds to get through before we see if NtSH truly makes it to the semi-finals.

I truly do NOT think I could stomach the stress and anxiety of being a judge!  Yikes.  I have really admired the thoughtful decisions this year (I probably say this every year).

Ok, let’s talk GWO and LCA:  the latest round of heavyweights. I did not have a preference, having abandoned Lost Children Archive at the change of perspective because it was due back at the library. (And sadly, was not compelled* to try again at a later date.) I skimmed the last third of Girl, Woman, Other because I couldn’t keep anyone straight and was getting severely impatient wondering what and how it was coming together.

OK,  here’s what I want to talk about and also an example of what a coward I am:  a friend tweeted at me that they didn’t read GWO because, and I quote, “whooooooboy the author has problematic views on nonbinary people.” And I was dumbstruck. I did not know how to ask more or challenge or invite explanation. I could not and still don’t find any evidence that Everisto presented anything disrespectful or problematic, in fact, someone -only one! – praised the author for the representation.

I myself, do not have opinion/knowledge how nonbinary “should be or not” but hope to have an openness and discovery to learning more – and that’s where I don’t know what is or is NOT problematic, I mean, I can sense disrespect, of course, but I personally thought GWO was fabulous at presenting individuals living lives their own truthful way. Applause to that.

Whew. I wanted to bring it up in the TOB commentary but I’m not brave. (and am refraining from comments spurred by liquid courage.) Anyway.

Help me be a better ally and reader.

I love the TOB! NOW, let’s talk about Jade Chang, our judge from yesterday and her list of how to decide the worthy book:

  1. Is it a FAST read?
  2. Is it SURPRISING?
  3. Are the characters INTERESTING?
  4. Is it COZY (“…can just sail forward, knowing that I will reach an exciting port”)
  5. Is it about the WORLD RIGHT NOW?
  6. Did it make me FEEL SOMETHING LASTING?

Friends, this post must come to an end. Thanks for spending a few minutes with my words, questions and thoughts. Be safe out there, be kind; let’s get through this with calm resolve.

HAPPY WORLD POETRY DAY!!!!

 

 

 

*   Having read all the debate discussion from Summer TOB, I felt I got enough of the second half to need not read it myself. #shrug

12 thoughts on “In the Middle of 2020 Tournament of Books

  1. We have the same favorites, except I would add Girl Woman Other. But, alas, all is lost except that faint hope for Nothing to See Here. I think Trust Exercise is the only book I really liked that’s still in it. There are others (Lost Children Archive, Saudade, We Cast a Shadow) that I didn’t exactly dislike but didn’t connect with either.

    I’ve seen both praise and criticism of Evaristo, as regards nonbinary people. I think she said something in an interview that showed a lack of understanding, but I can’t recall seeing any criticism of the depiction of the nonbinary character in the book. The book certainly came across to me as thoughtful and sensitive, but that’s from my limited frame of reference as a white, American, cis lady. My hope is that if she’s getting things wrong, she’s open to growing (as I hope and try to be as well).

  2. I do one day want to read the TOB books. It’s not this year or even the next few years but maybe after that? We’ll see. There were so many good books in this year’s list though and I’m following on and off.

  3. I loved GWO. It was one of my favorites from the short list. It does take some patience, however, to get into the flow of the book. I found that the author did try to really represent many different female perspectives and also how she reflected how one changes over time. My teenage self is not my middle age self and yet both are me. GWO and Your House Will Pay were hands down my favorites from the list. My least favorite was On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous. That kind of writing does nothing for me. As usual, it was fun to follow along. Take care and stay safe!

    1. I think I listened to the wrong books and read when I should have listened. But who has time to do THAT research when busy with getting the titles in any way possible, right?

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