The NCAA came out with the team picks and first round pairings yesterday (here’s the bracket). Amidst controversy, the NCAA named the Louisville Cardinals as the No. 1 seed. If your city has the best bookstore of the year, why shouldn’t it have the number one seed also? Who says basketball and reading aren’ t related? Just ask my daughter, she reads through every basketball game we attend or watch on TV. Or better yet, ask The Morning News, an online magazine that hosts the Tournament of Books each year.
What is the Tournament of Books? TMN describes it as “the one and only March Madness battle royale of literary excellence, sixteen books enter, but only one book can win the Rooster.” TMN chooses sixteen top-touted books from the previous year and pits them head to head in a bracket system eerily like the NCAA basketball tourney (download your own bracketto follow along). For each match, a different judge evaluates both books and declares the winner. Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner provide game commentary and readers chime in also. The ultimate winner receives a live rooster in honor of David Sedaris’ brother, “the Rooster.”
The Regionals started last week and what an upset week it was! In the George Plimpton Regional, the PEN/Faulkner lost and then in the Susan Sontag Regional the Booker was defeated; two top seeds were sent packing. In my opinion, the reviews are by far the most fun in print. After week one, I’ve decided I’m definitely going to read Harry, Revisedby Mark Sarvas and will no longer feel guilty about not wanting to read Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen. While Shadow Country won its round, I finished the review and commentaries wanting to read the YA novel it defeated, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banksby E. Lockhart; everyone loved it.
There are two more days in the Regional and then the next round begins. This weekend, when someone asks you about Louisville’s game or the center from UConn or the coach from UCLA (always in comparison to John Wooden), nod and make listening “hmms” and then ask, what do you think about how the David Foster Wallace Regional turned out?