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The Morning News and Powells Present
2006 Tournament of Books
APRIL 3, 2006
GUILFOILE: Not to bias these proceedings but Home Land and Never Let Me Go were the best two books I read last year. Actually, that’s not true. The best book I read last year was Operating Instructions for the FD Trinitron Sony WEGA High-Definition TV. But after that, definitely Home Land and Never Let Me Go.

Except for not shooting your friends on a hunting trip, I don’t think there’s anything harder than writing a successful comic novel. In my 20s, I attempted one called Bomb Pop. It was about an adult pair of conjoined twins, one of whom was in a band. It was very bad, but I didn’t know that when I was writing it. About a week after I finished the first draft, I read that the Farrelly brothers were making a movie about an adult pair of conjoined twins, one of whom was an actor. Then I found out that there was a pair of actual conjoined twins in Tennessee, one of whom was a singer in a band. Then I found out that Bomb Pop was already the name of a popular frozen treat. That last one was a real stake through my heart, let me tell you.

WARNER: When I hear the word “clone,” I think of three things: 1. Kevin Guilfoile’s Cast of Shadows, the other book about unsuspecting teenage clones published by Knopf last spring. 2. How I’d like to create a perfect genetic offspring of my dog so we could be together forever and ever. And 3. Scarlett Johansson’s breasts in that white jumpsuit she wore in Michael Bay’s The Island. Unfortunately for Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go doesn’t even make the list, so I have a hard time believing it’s any good, prize-winning novelist or no.

Home Land, on the other hand, is the only one of the 16 TOB selections that I read last year. I read it on a plane and spent the better part of two hours cackling, laughing to the point I was gasping for air. Once I left the plane, I spent the better part of two hours playing “naked detainee” with the Transportation Security Administration, whose employees were convinced I was a security threat based on my odd behavior.

GUILFOILE: It should be noted that among the potential conflicts in his judge’s profile, Mark Sarvas disclosed that he might be involved in a future business venture with Sam Lipsyte. I’m not sure what exactly—I think it’s a Quizno’s—but I wanted to say a few words about that. First, these reviews were written some time ago, and Mark claims his potential relationship with Lipsyte developed just recently. But even if that weren’t the case, a review of the archives at Mark’s web site would reveal a year-long advocacy of Lipsyte’s work. In fact his admiration of Lipsyte was surely the reason he wanted the writer to join him in the fast-casual hoagie business, and not vice-versa. I have no doubt that the opinions Mark has expressed here are sincere and uncompromised.

WARNER: Moral of these stories: Scarlett Johansson has nice breasts and Mark Sarvas made the right call.