Today’s Match      |      Previous Matches      |      TOB Brackets [PDF]      |      Judges      |      About      |      Buy the Books from      |      Rooster T-Shirts
The Morning News and Powells Present
2006 Tournament of Books
MARCH 31, 2006
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. Everyone—men and women, gay and straight—wants 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.

Advantage Krauss-Foers.

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.