Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ToB 2012: State of Wonder vs. The Sisters Brothers

Tournament of Books 2012

State of Wonder
Ann Patchett
The Sisters Brothers
Patrick deWitt

Let's recap yesterday: 

I was not surprised that The Tiger's Wife beat out The Stranger's Child.  As you may recall, it's one of the few times in this year's Tournament that I correctly guessed the winner.  I thought the commentary by judge Bethany Patrick was well thought-out, if perhaps too even-handed.  As I mentioned yesterday, The Stranger's Child holds no interest for me, but The Tiger's Wife is a book that's near the top of my TBR list.  I'm pleased with the outcome and it will be interesting to see how The Tiger's Wife holds up against 1Q84 - two books that won their rounds based on their reach for greatness (despite their various failings).

A quick contest update - only THREE of you have correctly picked the first four winners, but just because you've been wrong once (or twice, three times, etc.) doesn't mean you're out!  There are plenty of books to go and we haven't even hit the Quarterfinals!  Speaking of the Quarterfinals...

We'll be collecting your Quarterfinal Picks on Monday, March 19th.  You must have your Quarterfinal picks in by 11:59PM CDT.  Remember to follow Forever Overhead on Twitter and/or Facebook and subscribe to our RSS feed for the latest posts. 

On to Wednesday's match-up!

For my money this is the biggest first round match-up.

I read The Sisters Brothers last January before the shortlist was announced.  I was entranced by the cover and excited by the idea of a modern literary western. And so one night, as I ate a newly toasted Pop-Tart, I began The Sisters Brothers.  A few days later I emerged from its dusty and blood-soaked pages wild-eyed and eager to tell all my friends about this excellent book.  Charlie and Eli Sisters, hired guns, feared across the West, have been sent on a mission to assassinate Herman Kermit Warm by order of the Commodore.  The Sisters Brothers is full of violence, but it's also deceptively funny and warm.

Ann Pratchett's State of Wonder, which I have not read, is a quasi-science-fiction jungle-adventure story that has echos of Conrad's Heart of Darkness.  Marina Singh is sent into the dark jungles of Brazil to find her former teacher, Dr. Swensen, and discover what killed her predecessor.  

The Sisters Brothers was nominated for the 2011 Man Booker Prize, nominated for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize, winner of the 2011 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction and winner of the 2011 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.  As far as I can tell, State of Wonder's biggest honor was being nominated for the Tournament.

I'm certainly interested in reading State of Wonder, but based on many of the reviews I've read, it sounds like it just doesn't live up to the hype.  Since I love The Sisters Brothers with 100% of my being, I'm picking it to move on to the next round.  I'm hoping that judge Wil Wheaton sees it my way. 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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