Speculating on the Tournament of Books 2017 #TOB17

Hello Friends!

Michelle wants me to post my brackets. Oh Bracketing-schmacketing! Oh, how dost this exercise tax me…

Here goes. This first bracket is my WISH of FAVORITES. I did not think at all about possibilities of winning; only went with my heart. Do know that the Zombies are impossible to predict! I can’t fathom how to do that part. I hope you can read this? Is it too small? I can always save them to a GoogleDocLink.

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I want My Name is Lucy Barton to win it all. Do I think it will win, could win?! No.

I just attempted to include a list of all the books in the order that I ‘liked” and I couldn’t even accomplish THAT! Some I rank higher now than I did when I star-rated them and I bet my feelings/rankings would change tomorrow – I’m so fickle. And the issue that I still need to finish High Dive, The Sport of Kings, and The Nix. I *think* I will really like The Nix; I am liking High Dive but find myself NOT picking it up and doing anything else which is wrecking my mojo. The Sport of Kings is one I am dreading because of page count (560 but comparing this to The Nix’s 628 collapses my reasoning.) See? I cannot defend my bracket!

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For my shaky tentative guess as to what may happen:

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I don’t really have any faith that The Underground Railroad is a lock here but, something has to win… I haven’t read The Nix yet (as I have already mentioned for the gazillionth time), but I would be pleased if it could go on to claim the Rooster. I wouldn’t really be upset if any of these books won the Rooster. Surprised perhaps, but not unhappy. (After writing and editing this post, I already want to change my mind on a few spots… sigh)

I look forward to the lively commentary and reviews! Always a good time. Watch for it on March 8th.

To create your own pretty bracket speculation chart, click –> here <– and follow the links.

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Moonglow

Thoughts mgbymc by Michael Chabon, HarperAudio 2016, 14 hours 46 minutes

Narrated by George Newbern.

Challenge: TOB shortlist
Genre: fiction-memoir, speculative-memoir?
Type/Source: Audio/Audible Credit
 Why I read this now: Finished The Bone Clocks; this was up next.

MOTIVATION for READING: One thing that recommends this besides it being TOB is that it is written by Chabon. I have only read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and want to read more.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: I’m deferring to a few bits of the goodreads blurb because it is excellent. To read the whole blurb, click on the cover above because even though it is the button for the audio and I probably should link to Audible.com, I believe you would prefer access to the goodreads reviews rather than Audible. Am I wrong? Feel free to comment.

 …  the latest feat of legerdemain in the ongoing magic act that is the art of Michael Chabon.

Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession, made to his grandson, of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and desire and ordinary love, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at mid-century and, above all, of the destructive impact—and the creative power—of the keeping of secrets and the telling of lies. A gripping, poignant, tragicomic, scrupulously researched and wholly imaginary transcript of a life that spanned the dark heart of the twentieth century, Moonglow is also a tour de force of speculative history. (edited/cut) Chabon devises and reveals, in bits and pieces whose hallucinatory intensity is matched only by their comic vigor and the radiant moonglow of his prose, a secret history of his own imagination.

WHAT’s GOOD:  The unraveling, layering, building. The metaphors, the descriptors, the confident prose. I am almost certain that if you had me read a few pages of a book without identifying the author, I could pick out Chabon’s style and phrasing.

What’s NOT so good:  See above. Unfortunately, I feel like I can dip into and skip around and know that even as am surely ‘missing something’, I won’t miss it.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  If I wasn’t in such a gosh darn hurry to get these books crossed off the list, I would listen to every word and marvel. I would be entertained, enthralled, captivated, etc. I think I’ll just put another or all of Chabon’s books on my tbr and hope to read them someday.

SPECIFIC to TOB:  Due to the narrative structure and question of memoir vs fiction, I really wish this book was slated to compete against Black Wave. What a discussion that could be!  What a syllabus for a college class: these two books, add in A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein and everything by Mary Karr. But what do I know? I haven’t read any of those…

RATING: Four slices of pie. And I did hear a mention (as in, a list of desserts brought to a party) but I failed to capture the specifics.

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Moonglow collapses an era into a single life and a lifetime into a single week. A lie that tells the truth, a work of fictional non-fiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow is Chabon at his most daring, his most moving, his most Chabonesque.

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Underground Railroad

Thoughts tugrrbycw by Colson Whitehead, Doubleday Books 2016, 306 pages

Challenge: TOB Short List
Genre: Adult Fiction, Imaginative History?
Type/Source: Hardcover / Contest Win
 Why I read this now: Book arrived just as I finished Sudden Death

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Cora is a slave in Georgia and Caesar invites her to escape with him. They manage to hitch a ride on the Underground Railroad which is actually a real locomotive underground tunneling train ride rather than a metaphor. They spend quality time learning to read and working real jobs in South Carolina when they have an opportunity to catch the next rail out. Cora makes it to North Carolina but it’s not a happy spot, at all. If this part was truly based on real events, I had no idea. Chilling. There’s more adventure to follow for Cora but none of it is good.

WHAT’s GOOD: Imaginative. Chilling. 

What’s NOT so good: I didn’t connect to the characters. I kept comparing it to Homegoing, unfortunately. I don’t think this book had anything startling new to share on the topic of slavery. As Penny on Big Bang Theory said, “Slavery is bad.”

FINAL THOUGHTS: I could blame the circumstance of reading a review of someone on goodreads who REALLY didn’t like this book and I have often found her reviews insightful and interesting, especially on the merits of literature. I think I ended up looking for those details and negativities but I really do want to say that reading the book was a meaningful experience for me and I’m sure the many wonderful reviews are valid. Please read this for yourself and let’s have some fascinating discussion during the March Tournament, ok? And remind me NOT to read reviews while I’m in the middle of a book!!!

RATING: Remember, three stars says I LIKED IT. I wasn’t blown away by it, I preferred other TOB books of late. But I’m glad to have read it.

I thank Jeanne of Necromancy Doesn’t Pay for sending me this book. She shares that this book is “powerfully written and deeply disturbing.” Please read Jeanne’s review here. 

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Throwback Special

Thoughts ttsbycb by Chris Bachelder, WWNorton 2016, 213 pages

Challenge: TOB Short List
Genre: Adult Fic
Type/Source: Hardcover / Library
 Why I read this now: Two books came off hold the same day, this is the shorter.

MOTIVATION for READING:  I like football?

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Twenty-two guys get together every year to reenact the football play that broke QB Joe Theisman’s leg. You read that right: twenty-two characters, all but one middle-aged white guys. And then some, when you throw in the hotel clerk and a few of the other guests at the hotel.

WHAT’s GOOD:  It’s short. It’s impressive as a collective character study. It has some great sentences, occasional sharp social commentary, a bit of wit.

What’s NOT so good: I’ve already forgotten what I liked about it. Wow, I feel horrible saying that, but it’s true.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I like football. I’m of the era so I remember Joe and that horrible play. Another admission of honesty – I’ve never watched it closely. It starts and I cover my eyes. Golly, I can’t think of a think to write up here. I’m reading too fast; like I’m at a food competition (taste this taste that move on) – did I like it? sure. Did I love it? Ummmm, not really. Is it worthy? – well the folks who selected it for the TOB seem to think it has something fun to discuss and I don’t doubt that. I’m sure someone somewhere will be able to think of something profound to praise.

RATING: I gave it 4 slices of pie immediately after reading it, might as well keep it. No pie was mentioned.

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Sweet Lamb of Heaven

Thoughts slohbylmby Lydia Millet, WWNorton&Co 2016, 250 pages

Challenge: Rooster 2017
Genre: Adult Lit
Type/Source: Hardcover / Library
 Why I read this now: Came off hold before the others…

MOTIVATION for READING: The Tournament of Books by the Morning News – I have a shot at reading ALL the books on the short list. This is the 7th.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: In one sense, this is a story of a woman with a young daughter who realizes her marriage is a sham and flees her husband. But there is so much more that boggles the brain that I can’t even begin to describe it all. The fact that all of this is shared in less than 300 pages is amazing. It is about language and communication. It is dystopic and end-of-the-world fears. It is about us versus them. It’s quite freaky actually, but also extremely composed. Not tense, really, just shaky and slightly off-key. Everything is not quite right but not unbelievable even when reality REALLY gets distorted. It’s all a dream, right? Just a bad dream.

Having this book as your only read on a deserted island would NOT be recommended.

WHAT’s GOOD: The ability of the author to successfully make you doubt everything along with the narrator and yet also be separate.

What’s NOT so good: I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t ‘enjoy’ this more. It is that vague unsettling that makes it good. But.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I think I’m just perplexed and left disillusioned. I am glad it’s over. It reminds me of a book somewhere that discussed the basics of the word ‘disease’: dis- the opposite of or absence of, -ease freedom from pain or trouble of the body or mind.  I am willing to read something else by Ms Millet. Any suggestions?

If you love the concepts and mysteries of language, you might want to consider this. If you are at all enraged by politics at the moment, you might want to skip this.

RATING: Three slices of pie.

LOTS of pie mentioned:  pumpkin, fake mincemeat, and pecan; cherry pie, berry pie, honey pie and chicken pot pie. Pie dough, too.

PS There is a fascinating 5 star review on goodreads by “Jill” (I only follow her) who described the story as “like a Rubik’s cube.” If you are interested in her thoughts, I suggest you go find her post.

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Story of My Teeth

Thoughts tsomtbyvl The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, Coffee House Press 2015 (orig 2013), 184 pages

Translated from Spanish to English by Christina MacSweeney.

Challenge: The last of my Rooster reading attempts… til I try anticipating what might make the short list of NEXT year!
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback/Library 14 day loan, extended (since no one was waiting for it.)
 Why I read this now: it’s March! It’s TOB!! It’s the ROOSTER!!!

MOTIVATION for READING: Upon first hearing of this book, I didn’t think I was interested but as the TOB commentary remarked on its novelty AND that the character is one of an elderly persuasion (I love the cranky old geezer and lady who wears purple), I put it on hold at the library. I really do think I might have placed ALL the short list on hold at the library but I am wondering if some weren’t available at the initial time frame of “short list”. I don’t make very accurate records on such.

ALSO, there are aspects about this book that are beyond the story of the book. Will explain soon.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: It’s funny and sad. Our protagonist is an auctioneer who has perfected — nay, made an art form — of the STORY that goes along with an item that is auctioned. Indeed, believes the story attached to the item makes the item more valuable. This book is about art, the value of art and the value of stories. Highway (nickname for our auctioneer protag) has a son and a long life travel story, and an interesting ‘collection’ from his travels over those years… He is given one last auction opportunity to test his story-value-makes-the-item theory. His collection, his ultimate collection, is teeth of famous people.

This book is tremendously artful and creative. It will appeal to an artful creative kind of reader.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s funny and sad. Highway is a believer.

What’s NOT so good: It’s funny and sad. Highway has to deal with life. It is, yes, so very odd. It is cerebral, it is creative, it is confusing and fascinating.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I can’t quite tell which of you are the right reader to recommend this to and yet I truly believe many just might find it oddly charming as I did. I know a few of you would eat this up and think it brilliant. I also think more of you will find it odd and missing of something concrete. It’s artsy. It really reiterates that the power of words strung together IS art. Construct. Creative. Especially when you hear about the story of how this story came to be…

Please do consider that this work of art, this story, was commissioned AS art and thus it has that metaphysical element of enchantment. Yep, I did say that; I said it.

RATING: Four slices of pie. (no noted mention of pie…)

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Sympathizer

Thoughts tsbyvtn by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Audible Audio 2015, 13 hours 53 minutes

Narrated by François Chau – excellent!

Challenge: for my personal challenge to read as many of the Rooster short list as possible.
Genre: Pulitzer Prize Winner!  (though this is a recent distinction – very exciting!)
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible Credit
 Why I read this now: Stars aligned, I guess. I do believe that the Rooster commentary mentions this as a good audio so when it was time for me to use a credit, this is what got selected.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  The fictionalized first-person account of a North Vietnamese communist spy who works for the South Vietnamese military, trained by the CIA, educated in America, son of a French priest and his South Vietnamese housekeeper? or paramour? (I forget; both?) at the time of the Fall of Saigon and after. It is set in Vietnam, America/California and has a brief interlude in the Philippines.

WHAT’s GOOD:  It is historical fiction with all the cool things that push my buttons – lush descriptions, witty repertoire, cutting insights into human nature, philosophy, action and thrilling suspense, conflict of conscience, love of sorts and falling in love or not, HISTORY, etc. I really wouldn’t call myself a spy-novel reader but I thought this quite fascinating.

What’s NOT so good: At times, I wonder if it had all the stereotypical elements a spy novel should have but I haven’t read very many and maybe a spy-novel is supposed to. Truly, I didn’t know what to expect but this delivers well on things I like in a story. ON THE OTHER HAND, I thought at times that it was too long and needed to get on with but I’m sure that was my mood and what was going on in ‘real life’ conflicting with time and interest to keep invested. But I pushed through and ended up liking the book overall.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is often stated to be satire and of course, I can only recognize this from being told and not really of my own recognition. But I find that I am a big fan of satire even when I don’t quite get it. 

I am thrilled that this won the Pulitzer for Fiction 2016 only because 1) I just read it (validation?), 2) I somehow have unknowingly embarked on a Personal Pulitzer Challenge, and 3) the surprise and timing made it fun.

RATING: Four slices of pie. Pie actually was mentioned a lot – there is an entire sequence about eating humble pie that because in audio, I will either have to go hunt or skip…

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.