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The Morning News and Powells Present
2006 Tournament of Books
APRIL 4, 2006
GUILFOILE: It would be difficult to overestimate the trauma inflicted on unsuspecting nine-year-old girls who, after completing all 20 Black Stallion books in one feverish summer, turn next to their parents’ worn copy of Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. In this way it can be said that McCarthy is responsible for the loss of more innocence than an East Texas gas chamber. On the other hand, if any of those girls is ever attacked during recess by a crazed cuchillero intent on slitting her throat, she’ll know how to stab him in the heart and break the blade off in his chest. There’s no reason our daughters shouldn’t possess both the wits to enjoy an afternoon game of Uno as well as the reflexes to stay on the handle end of a bloody Mexican knife fight.

I notice Maud describes Smith’s wordplay as being “nearly as distracting as it is spellbinding.” Over the years my wife has used that same phrase to describe my most daring boudoir improvisations, usually in a desperate-sounding and poorly camouflaged letter to Savage Love.

WARNER: Maud also describes Hotel World as “teeming with life,” which reminded me of my stay in a Best Western just outside of Memphis if by “life” and “teeming” she meant near microscopic bugs that get under your skin like a good novel.

It’s probably past due that I make it clear that unlike Kevin, I have no conflicts of interest in this year’s tournament. Writer’s Digest, the publisher of my book, Fondling Your Muse: Infallible Advice from a Published Author to the Writerly Aspirant, had no titles selected for the final 16. This seems like an unconscionable oversight since the reference annual, Novel & Short Story Marketplace contains some of the richest fantasy this side of the Harry Potter series. Take, for example, this passage under the entry for The New Yorker: “Accepts and occasionally publishes unsolicited manuscripts.”

Come to think of it, the book is as funny as final fourist Home Land as well.

Lastly, Cormac McCarthy scares me.