Welcome to round one of the Tournament of Books! Our initial excitement was only matched by our extreme disappointment in the outcome of this match. So this post is pretty angry and bitter. (Next one will not be! We’re happy with the next choice!) Anyway the Chatz format is something that we used to do at Sunflower. It is a real time online chat between us and it probably won’t happen too much but anyway here it is, as it happened:
Steven: yo wassupppp
Fay: is my response to today’s match
Steven: no pleasantries?
Fay: eh we’re both tired
Steven: no ‘hey bud what’s up
Steven: i’m doin fine thanks
Steven: for asking
Fay: but seriously today’s judge made the WRONG CALL
Fay: and I haven’t even read The Round House
Steven: fuck you the tournament of books
Fay: And that is our official position?
Steven: tournament of books i am putting you on blast
Steven: you’ve got a dud collection of books this year and it just got literally twice as duddy
Fay: But let’s get more specific here: Edan Lepucki made some very valid criticisms of TFioS. It IS too slick. It DOES bear the readable hand of John Green. It shows and doesn’t tell. A book about funny and clever teenagers with terminal cancer is emotionally manipulative. It has no bad guy and is unchallenging in many ways. SIGH. I don’t even know what to say. I’ve said it all already. It is NOT THAT GOOD A BOOK
Fay: Back me up with some Round House stuff
Steven: yeah seriously shit sounds like the worst
Steven: if there is one thing i hate it is precocious teenagers referencing like fitzgerald or sartre or shit which is what i imagine this book to be like but in book form
Steven: which, unfair, i haven’t read it but come on
Steven: COME ON
Steven: my assumption is Edan Lupecki is racist?
Steven: only possible explanation
Steven: obvs that’s not true (edit: OBVIOUSLY NOT TRUE WE ARE DEFINITELY THROUGH DEFAMING PEOPLE)
Steven: (though awks that now literally all the books left are written by whitey)
Steven: The Round House was the best
Steven: a fantastic book
Fay: People, you got sucked into the rise of the teen read. It is easier and more satisfying than a book that takes on more. It is literally designed to be easier to read. I’m not saying it’s not enjoyable or funny or emotional or affecting. A word that comes up a lot is ‘charming’. And yes, the characters are too smart and funny and good to be true and the conceit is awful and unfair. But that is exactly what I mean by emotionally manipulative. But it is not particularly deep or interesting. You made the wrong choice. You just did. And now I’m really mad.
Fay: And, I’m gonna come out and say it, Gus is a twat.
Fay: Seriously that guy is all surface, all about how cool he is and how romantic he’s being.
Fay: Just coz you say he is, doesn’t make it so
Steven: re Fault, which again I haven’t read, so defamation ahoy, but also I am not a child, how many times have we seen that formula, which again, I don’t read books for tiny children so if I know it HOW PREVALENT MUST IT BE, but where you have two sarcastic, precocious, slightly outsider children (still white and pretty conventionally attractive though), some kind of life problem like death of a relative or, as in this case, the cancer, sad ending but with life lessons learnt all the while telling the reader how clever he/she is for getting references to classic literature which COME ON NO
Fay: It’s particularly prevalent in John Green books
Steven: i dunno man i haven’t read this book but i am FIRED UP
Steven: puttin john green on blast
Steven: undeservedly most like!
Fay: ‘They’re hyper-verbal in a Gilmore Girls fashion that causes me to simultaneously admire them as “wonderful” characters and distrust their genuineness’ Umm excuse me but why would a character’s tendency to talk more automatically make them ‘wonderful’?
Fay: There are good things too. I just don’t think they’re as good as everyone is making them out to be and so I feel like I’m being forced to be overly harsh on the book just to put it back into perspective. So now I seem like a dick. THANKS A LOT, TFioS!
Steven: anyway, Round House
Steven: super good book
Steven: moving and written with a simple touch that belied its emotional weight and the sense of history behind it all
Steven: it was deep and devastating, and the reservation was wonderfully realised. Joe’s father was a saint and i loved him and think that he and atticus finch should team up and fight racist crime. Joe’s grandfather Mooshum was also great, a tough, horny old man who remembers the old ways, with the story Joe overhears while the old man is asleep providing a history of the reservation and an historical background to the crime commited against Joe’s mother and his people as a whole. Joe’s auntie Sonya, an object of his lust was also fantastic, in particular in the scene in which SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
Steven: (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read the book and that was one of the best scenes in the novel, with what Sonya says to Joe after it occurs particularly striking home)
Steven: FURTHER what is Lepucki talking about when she says that ‘the book still read like a project’
Steven: that’s nuts i tells ya!
Steven: first of all I think she overstates the crime element of the book. yes it’s about a terrible crime and its aftermath but the coming of age elements and Joe’s story as a whole is so much more important
Steven: it just wasn’t a whodunit and it was much better for that
Steven: this is a beautiful, tragic book which ties the crime, and the reservation as a whole, to centuries of history
Steven: and I don’t know if she meant to imply this but I didn’t find the book remotely preachy or lecturey
Steven: reservation life and history was fleshed out but in a way that felt organic, not simply as slabs of information
Steven: whatever, i ain’t great at talking about books but i loved the Round House, it was one of my favourites of the year and I am super bummed to see it lose out to something that (again, haven’t read it) lacks its scope, its meaning and its importance
Steven: and so I say one more time you done fucked up, the tournament of books