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The Morning News and Powells Present
2006 Tournament of Books
APRIL 13, 2006
GUILFOILE: Hearty congratulations to Ali Smith for pulling out a tight victory in today’s final. To some, The Accidental might feel a bit like a compromise pick—based on their comments, I don’t know how many of the judges would select it as their absolute favorite of the 16—but compromise is the nature of all awards, and if the Tournament of Books had a point, which it surely doesn’t, that might be it. Nevertheless, it was a deserving win and we applaud it enthusiastically. The tournament format is especially difficult for books, and any novel that made it through that gauntlet of terrific reads deserves all the praise we can summon. If you haven’t picked it up yet, and you don’t believe that writers and readers of literary fiction should be tried at The Hague, or whatever that was about, you should go read The Accidental now.

WARNER: Yes, congratulations to Ali Smith for her victory in the most prestigious competition this side of America’s Next Top Podiatrist. I’m sure she’s overwhelmed with feelings of apathy that would make Dale Peck look like a candidate for the touring production of Up With People. Though, let me also say that it’s a shame that a book with as much masturbation in it as Home Land isn’t going to get rewarded with a live cock.

GUILFOILE: Speaking of Dale, I was going to call him out this time for using so many fake words that no one ever says out loud—docilely, mythlet, simulacrum—but then I realized that I used simulacrum in my own book. Yep, right there at the bottom of page 62. No excuse for it, frankly. I apologize for both of us.

WARNER: My favorite part of the NCAA basketball tournament is when they play the montage of highlights over “One Shining Moment,” where we look back at the great plays of the tournament and think, “I remember that, because it happened 12 minutes ago and now, look, it’s classic because it has been set to music.”

However, instead of looking back on this year’s tournament, I’d like to take this opportunity to use a gag that I couldn’t fit into previous rounds.

I’ve been trying forever to work in a reference that ties together Ali Smith with the actress Allison Smith, who those of us that went through puberty in the mid-’80s remember as the daughter of Allie (Jane Curtin) in Kate & Allie. I was trying to work in some kind of joke where I’d pretend to be confused and therefore impressed that an American child actress could not only morph into an award-winning novelist, but a British person as well. I ultimately decided that the reference was far too obscure, suitable only for the asocial nerds who stayed home and watched lame sitcoms and pretended that fictional characters were our girlfriends, and really, what I meant to say is that if Ali Smith and Allison Smith really are the same person and she reads this and she’s still devastatingly cute in an approachable way, she should give me a buzz. I’m sure my wife would hardly mind.

GUILFOILE: Also, I’m sorry Ian McEwan did not win this year’s Rooster, but he was great in Lord of the Rings. And Cheers didn’t miss a beat when Kirstin Allio joined the cast. And you, Sen. Warner, have been a pleasure to work with.

WARNER: Thanks to everyone for indulging me. It’s been fun chiming in over the last few weeks. I hope that next year Dale Peck’s forthcoming novel, Lemmings Everywhere!, is Rooster-eligible and that Peck is invited to judge his own book, just so we can see his head explode.