Every morning I make breakfast, take my oldest son to school, and then spend half an hour over at TMZ inserting line breaks into the latest Lindsay Lohan quotes, transforming them into poetry. Yesterday’s LiLioKu was especially good
, I thought:
The (Sycophants) and the Noise
By Lindsay Lohan
I move forward
And I change.
Life’s too short not to.
If people would just leave
My personal life alone
Because it’s really not all that interesting
Then I could land
A great role.
But all the sicko fans
And the noise
Is so distracting.
When I filled out my bracket I had A Dart League King
meeting A Northern Clemency
in this round. And as much as I liked A Mercy
, I’m a little surprised it’s made it this far. The bottom half of this bracket was heavy with books I thought would be out-and-out crowd pleasers and I figured A Mercy,
even with its lovely prose, would have a tough time getting past them. But since it survived a toss-up in the first round, A Mercy
Further evidence, if one needed it, that I am the Sergeant Schultz of literary criticism.
Which brings us to the next round’s match-ups. Shadow Country
didn’t fare very well in the Zombie voting. I suspect the voters felt about it the way most of the judges didand you and I, as wellthat it’s a significant accomplishment, but a novel we admired more than we loved.
So now let’s tally up the votes from the ToB’s own sicko fans and meet our Zombies.
It wasn’t even close. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
had lots and lots more votes than any other book. Second place wasn’t much of a contest either with 2666
far outpacing The Lazarus Project
. The judges’ selections on the other hand, City of Refuge
and A Mercy
, got almost no reader support in the Zombie poll. So we really are looking at the popular choices vs. the judges’ picks in this next round.
Since we have one Zombie from each bracket, we will switch them up to avoid a rematch. Rosecrans Baldwin will be choosing between The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
and City of Refuge
. Andrew Womack will pick either 2666
or A Mercy
to go to the finals.
This makes it two years in a row that Bolaño has made an appearance in our Zombie Round. Last year, after a first-round exit, The Savage Detectives
came back only to be defeated bywait for itJunot Díaz and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
. Tournament handicappers should note that the judge in that contest was the same for our upcoming A Mercy
match, TMN’s Andrew Womack.
For what it’s worth, in his comment on that match
, Womack remarked, Halfway through The Savage Detectives
, I placed an order for Nazi Literature in the Americas
, and declared himself a nascent Bolaño fan. One would imagine that Womack has therefore already read 2666
except that that the edition that arrived was the original version in Spanish, and though I know Andrew to be a smart guy, I don’t think his Español is up to that task.
As is well-documented, I could barely handle the translation.
What’s clear from the Zombie voting is that Bolaño and E. Lockhart don’t just have readers, they have fans
. In this year’s tournament, any pairing with 2666
in it was likely to be our most discussed of the week, and we’ve seen the Bolaño fandom show up in our comments throughout the tourney as there’s been considerable pushback against our negative impressions, including a comment where it was declared of us
, this is as clear a case of ‘not getting’ a piece of literature as I’ve seen.
Again, the insight is obvious, but these readers didn’t just enjoy the book, they’re invested
in it. At some level (maybe a low one, but a level nonetheless), liking 2666
or Bolaño’s books is part of those readers’ identities or self-image. It’s meaningful that someone feels compelled to write a comment (in come cases very long comments) about a book that someone else (particularly a couple of low-level jokers like us) disliked.
The phenomenon is even more pronounced with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
, where we had fans of Ms. Lockhart (and young-adult literature as a whole), rallying to the cause in the voting. Sure, it was plenty easy to cast a vote in the Zombie competition, but there’s only one book where the readers got together and disseminated the word and turned out in force. The comments on Disreputable History’s first-round matchup
are also plenty illustrative of the fan phenomenon. While the peanut gallery voting went 2/3 to Shadow Country
, the comments are overwhelmingly pro-Frankie, including this one, my favorite
Dislike away. But don’t put down books that actually make a difference in some kid’s life. FRANKIE had some real deep and meaningful shit in there and as a teenager, I don’t consider it disposable or replaceable. Maybe if all y’all old folks would realize that YA books are meant to be aimed at teens, you would better understand how the issues of stuff going on at school, with boyfriends is actually important. Until you make that connection, that teens have different values than adults, I pity your kids.
In his judgment, Anthony Doerr said of the book, Nothing truly fundamental gets shaken up here, but clearly, the book’s fans disagree
. I may be wrong, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing any passionate blog postings or comments protesting the bouncing of Shadow Country
from the tournament.
Frankly, I’m envious. We all want readers, but wow, it would be something else to have fans.