Day 6 is here, and the match-ups are starting to get pretty tight. How do you decide between these books that we’ve loved so much? I couldn’t, so I had Lindsey (the decided leader of the group) choose the winners. I’m glad I was able to side step these tough choices. If you have a problem with her winners and losers, she will be at BookPeople on the 28th of this month discussing Pat Barker’s Life Class. You can yell at her then.
I honestly don’t think the group would exist without Lindsey. She is our organizer, cheerleader, and quality control manager. Nothing happens without her. She is also one of the most passionate readers I have ever met. Reading is not something she chooses to do, but something that she has been chosen to do. It’s a need for her.
I’m glad she decided to come out to our group. I can’t imagine what my life (yes she’s invaded my personal life, too) would look like if I never met her. You should come meet her, too. She’s got cool hair.
Without further delay, the results:
Disgrace vs. Holy Terrors
Ahh, Disgrace. The best book I don’t recommend. Or rather: the best book I don’t, in practice, recommend. In our discussion, the Voyage Out was swept up in awe at Coetzee’s meticulous inspection of the word “disgrace.” To be in disgrace, to disgrace, to have been disgraced; whether as a noun or a verb, “disgrace” touches every character. And yet– most people to whom I recommend this book are instead swept up in horror at how Coetzee’s sparse prose casually details brutality. I get that. I still find myself mentioning this book to people. I hope they have a group like the Voyage Out to work past the horror. It’s worth it.
What I remember most about Holy Terrors:
1. it’s a picture book (okay, a novel with Cocteau’s own illustrations)
2. we spent 45 minutes debating the final line.
Play It As It Lays vs. Invisible Cities.
Joan Didion = mah girlllll (somewhere in the universe, Didion is out there hating me hard for that. I love you, JD). Didion never uses five words when one perfectly cutting one will do. Sorry, Invisible Cities.
Play It As It Lays wins.
The Optimist’s Daughter vs. S.: A Novel of the Balkans.
Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter wonders how much any of us know about one another, and it contemplates if in death any of us can be remembered the way we’d want to be remembered. It’s a book for which we’ve been know to throw around the word “perfect.”
Then there’s S.: A Novel of the Balkans. Forget being remembered in a certain way after death; S. reveals the horrors of war and ethnic cleansing that humankind may not want to remember, but must.
A tough round, but S. needs to be told. S. wins.
The History of Love vs. Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
If Disgrace is a book I might have hated without Voyage Out, I wonder if The History of Love is a book I might have loved without it. Little bits of writing in The History of Love strike me as lovely beyond measure, but the book fell apart for the group the more we discussed. The ending felt sloppy, and we had the audacity to question if Krauss fully realized what she’d gotten her characters into and if she actually thought we should feel satisfied by her resolution.
Obviously there are moments when the Voyage Out could not take itself more seriously (all of the moments). But the Wind Up Bird Chronicle was rollicking to read and rollicking to discuss, layer by layer by layer.
Unlike Krauss, we’d let Murakami take us anywhere. Wind Up Bird Chronicle wins.
This sets up some more high level contests for the next round:
Disgrace vs. Play It As It Lays
S.: A Novel of the Balkans vs. Wind-Up Bird Chronicle