Wednesday, March 07, 2012

ToB 2012: The Sense Of An Ending vs. The Devil All The Time

Tournament of Books 2012


The Devil All The Time
Donald Ray Pollock
The Sense Of An Ending
Julian Barnes


As of the time of this writing, there are 44 people signed up for our Tournament of Books contest.  I have entered all of the picks in my spreadsheet and we're ready to go.  The first match-up is between The Sense Of An Ending and The Devil All the Time.

The Sense of an Ending won the Man Booker Prize and was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards in the Best Novel category.  This is Julian Barnes' eleventh novel.

The Devil All The Time hasn't been nominated for any awards.  This is Donald Ray Pollock's first novel.

The Sense Of An Ending is about looking back at our youth and the fallacy of memory.  It's a short novel - almost a novella - at only 150 pages.  It certainly reads like a novella and the prose is attractive without being showy.  

The Devil All The Time takes place in the 1960's in rural Ohio and Virginia and concerns a variety of very bad people doing very bad things.  The subject matter is violent, evil and sometimes disturbing.

Pollock's novel is distinctly American while Barnes' book is very British.  Barnes' writing is quiet and subtle and Pollock's is in your face, daring you to have sympathy for his characters.

84% of you predicted that The Sense Of An Ending would move on to the next round.  Based on your picks, it's hard to imagine The Devil All The Time walking away with the win, but it's still possible.  The judge of this match-up is author and book-seller Emma Straub.  People may not know that Emma is the daughter of the award-winning horror writer, Peter Straub.  Who knows, maybe something gets passed down from the father to the daughter and Emma's got a taste for an American gothic novel?

The Tournament of Books officially begins today, but we'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out who advances to the next round!

So what do YOU think?  Is the subject matter of The Devil All The Time too disturbing to make it to the next round?  Does The Sense Of An Ending's awards shelf give it a leg up?  Why did over 85% of our contest participants pick The Sense Of An Ending over The Devil All The Time?

Powells.com is a sponsor of the Tournament of Books and you would be doing them (and me) a big favor if you used this link to buy any of the books in this year's tournament.  All ToB books are 30% off their list price and you'll be supporting a great bookseller!

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