GUILFOILE: As we start round two, I’d like to welcome John Warner, who will be adding his insights for this round and beyond. In addition to being a TMN contributor and my co-author on the bestselling and prescient My First Presidentiary
, John is the editor of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
and the author of the hilarious book Fondling Your Muse: Infallible Advice From a Published Author to the Writerly Aspirant
WARNER: First, I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to do some guest commentary on this year’s Tournament of Books. I felt about as welcome as Howard Stern at a Focus on the Family convention after last year’s tourney when I chose Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons
over Louis De Bernieres’s Birds Without Wings
. I’m still getting hate email from the People for the Sensitive Treatment of Historo-Social Themes in Literature Society PSTHSTLS (pronounced, ironically enough, pistols). It’s good to see there are no hard feelings toward the person who thought a book about the deflowering of an Appalachian hill-girl with the brain of Stephen Hawking and the body of Britney Spears was superior to a tour de force rendering of the religious and ethnic roots of the present-day conflict in the Middle East. Clearly, I am the sort of person who should be commenting about people who read books, rather than reading the books themselves.
GUILFOILE: As for people who comment about people who read books, newspaper articles about blogs are not always accompanied by pictures of bloggers, but nearly every article about Bookslut
carries a photo of Jessa Crispin. For you aspiring online scribblers, consider this a lesson about the importance of a quality name. Everyonemen and women, gay and straightwants to see what the Bookslut looks like. By comparison very few want to see a picture of the Crazy Book Methadone Whore
And speaking of titles, Jessa doesn’t like Krauss’s, but what about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
? In his bestselling book On Writing
Stephen King asserts that The road to hell is paved with adverbs, (as opposed to clichés
, I suppose), but Foer uses two of these sickly sounding hellstones before the book even begins. Heck, even his name is unnecessarily modified. I really can’t see how athan Safran adds anything that Jon Foer doesn’t already say.
WARNER: Speaking of speaking of titles, I put both books through the Lulu title scorer
, and it looks like they both should have been booted from the brackets to begin with. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
has an 8.6% chance of being a bestseller. (I’ve heard of the sophomore slump, but that’s ridiculous.) The History of Love
came in at a better, but not great, 41.4% chance of being a bestseller.
Interestingly, my book, Fondling Your Muse: Infallible Advice from a Published Author to the Writerly Aspirant
scores a respectable 55.4% chance of becoming a bestseller, besting the Krauss-Foer household score combined.
And yet, their books are glowingly reviewed in national publications and they have a multi-million dollar Brooklyn brownstone. I live in South Carolina and in the only review
of Fondling Your Muse
, I was savaged
by Scott Naugle of the South Mississippi Sun Herald
Most importantly, I was excited to see in Choire Sicha’s first-round write-up that the Krauss-Foers are new parents. Congratulations to them, and congratulations to Baby Krauss-Foer for that gene pool he’s emerged from. Mom=successful novelist. Dad=successful novelist. Uncle No. 1=editor of the New Republic
. Uncle No. 2=U.S. memory champion. I’m thinking this kid is going to grow up and do spectacular things, like bend spoons with his mind.