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Friday, May 30, 2008

There Can Be Only One: A Literary Smackdown

It's a beautiful spring in Los Angeles, and this is a beautiful week for writers. On Wednesday, LA Weekly released their 2008 literary supplement issue. The issue is overflowing with good stuff - John Banville writing on Belgian mystery novelist Georges Simenon; a Salman Rushdie excerpt from The Enchantress of Florence; an introspective on bookselling by Los Angeles bookselling legend Doug Dutton; and a check-in on the health of the novel by Joe Donnelly - among many more.

For my money (*cough*LA Weekly is free*cough*), the most enjoyable of the articles was a humorous complaint about the mystery surrounding the awarding of literary prizes and a commentary on what the author thinks should be the future of prize giving - "The Brief, Wondrous Tournament of Books" by Nathan Ihara. In the article, Ihara discusses The Morning News' Tournament of Books, a critics and readers showdown that pits books against each other in a March Madness NCAA style single-elimination tournament. You can see this year's tournament results here.

I've got a lot of links going in this article, all of them worthy of your perusal. Get to reading everyone!


stu said...

It sounds like fun, but not necessarily any more worthy than the normal process of grabbing a bunch of people you've vaguely heard of, locking them in a room, and telling them not to come out until they've come up with something. Rather like picking a Pope, when you think about it.

Stephanie said...

I think what appealed to Ihara about the tournament is that it's more transparent. The critics who judge each round actually have to justify their decisions in writing and in public.

Of course, we all know it's a very subjective decision anyhow, so there isn't really a "good" way.

I thought the story was funny though.

mernitman said...

Thanks for turning me on to the smackdown. It's both completely absurd and absolutely makes sense, and it's especially cool to read the (justifying) reactions from such an interesting group of writers.

And thanks (I guess?) for providing another critical venue to aspire to entering, when I get my second novel published...

Stephanie said...

Hey, mernitman, I'm just thrilled there's going to be a second novel. Now I've got something to look forward to.