Filled in your brackets? I’ve got Wake Forest getting spanked by Margaret Atwood in the second round.
Book nerds who couldn’t care less about March Madness have something else to watch: The Morning News Tournament of Books, which is in its sixth year.
Past winners have included
2009: A Mercy by Toni Morrison
2008: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
2007: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2006: The Accidental by Ali Smith
2005: The Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
We’re still in the opening round for 2010, and here’s the rundown on this year’s competitors to watch, and click on the link above to have a look at the brackets and see what I’m getting at.
That Old Cape Magic
Richard Russo’s playing defensively this year, but he gets overrun by the younger, more explosive books out there. This is apparently a more physical team than in the past, and Russo has trouble controlling it. Nic Brown has made calls in Burnt Shadows’ favor, sealing That Old Cape Magic’s early exit this year.
This powerhouse from the South has enough fans to fill ten coliseums with menopausal bookclubbers sloshed on cheap margaritas and singing “Forward Rebels”. Got a scare from Lowboy in the opener (look for that one to make a zombie round comeback). Still, Stockett’s traditional yet slightly manipulative offense makes it a force to reckon with, fan support or no.
Nicholson Baker never seems to field the same team. This unpredictability from a wily veteran will give The Anthologist edge over Everything Ravaged and Everything Burned in its opener.
Book of the Night Women
Upset city against The Gate at the Stairs. Tassie will put up big numbers (the only thing carrying Lorrie Moore’s heavyweight), but it won’t be enough against the magic Marlon James is working this year.
Let the Great World Spin
A top seeder coming off a National Book Award title. Finesse-driven and builds enough momentum in the later quarters to overwhelm most of the other entrants. But McCann has too much deadweight on his bench and lacks a cohesive starting lineup, so The Help will bounce it in the second round.
This Cinderella entry has a rock ’em sock ’em offense borrowing pages from W.S. Burrough’s and Haruki Murakami’s playbooks. Exciting to watch, but won’t pull the upset on Atwood’s Year of the Flood, not with Kate Ortega making the call.
My pick to win The Big Dance. High seeds have done well in this tournament, and Mantel’s Man Booker winner’s still got momentum. Cromwell’s early injury won’t slow down this cerebral powerhouse, which should face tough competition but still prevail on its depth advantage. It’s good to be the king.
You might ask what the point is of the Tournament of Books–which boasts a playoff system more arbitrary than the BCS. But as Kevin Guifoile explains, “It’s a little like complaining the solution to today’s Sudoku doesn’t require calculus.” They want to get people talking about some of last year’s best novels in a fun new way.
Know what I think? It’s awesome, baby!