It's on the first day of the Tournament. Actually, the real first day is Thursday, March 7, 2013, but the preliminary match to determine the last book in the contest was decided today. I'm already annoyed, which, I guess, just means that this is going to be an exciting few weeks.
Today, we had the "Pre-Tournament Play-In" to determine which of three Iraq war books would move on to the actual tournament. Our players are, The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, Fobbit by David Abrams, and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. Today's judge is Nathan Bradley, an active service Army officer who served in Afghanistan.
All three books take place in the mid 2000s. The only one I haven't read yet is Billy Lynn, but it is presently waiting in my box at the library, for me to come and check it out. I can't say whether or not I agree with the end decision. I can only say that Mr. Bradley's arguments did not work for me. Somehow because Fobbit and The Yellow Birds did not match his experience, or weren't didn't tell the story he wanted them to, he completely discounted them.
The Tournament of Books is a highly subjective contest. Every win is the whim of the judge of that round. They could have any reasoning whatsoever, all that matters is that the book they choose is the one that moves on to the next round. Over the last few years, the good people at The Morning News have allowed for comments and interjections from the Peanut Gallery, playing along at home and the discussions have gotten so much better. I think we get a much more varied and well-rounded experience, deserving of all of these great books.
I'm fully in the spirit now. I look forward to the first round on Thursday. Woo Hoo! The contest is on!