Lots of folks are talking about the Oscars these days, but I want to talk about my favorite annual award, the Rooster. The Morning News is an internet news e-zine kind of thingy with content that skews towards arts and culture. I am a casual fan and occasional reader of the site…until their Tournament of Books begins each March and I become obsessed. The Tournament of Books (ToB) is a bracket-style, completely subjective competition to come up with a winning book released in the previous year and award the winning author The Rooster (which may or may not actually be a live rooster.)
A match consists of one person, reading and judging two books, choosing their favorite, and then justifying their choice. Following the verdict, there is color-commentary by the moderators of the ToB. Then come the gazillions of comments by the followers of the ToB and it totally sucks me in and makes me late for racquetball and my laundry piles up and the only other thing I make time for is the real March Madness.
As usual, my own words fail to accurately describe. Here’s the full link to the ToB16 Announcement, including the list of contenders, and a brief bit of it reproduced for you here:
Twelve years we’ve done this silly thing. Twelve years, a bunch of works of fiction are read, compared, discussed. Twelve years, judges judge, commentators comment, readers cry, scream, rage, celebrate, fulminate, call each other names and worse things, and send us hate mail. Twelve years, people also come up to us in April and tell us it was the most fun they’d had all year long, at least when it came to contemporary fiction.
Twelve years, we say up-front: Our event is stupid. Stupid. Books aren’t basketball players. Stories don’t care about other stories. Awards for art are intrinsically political, fussy, inevitably crass. Which is sort of why ours is a rooster, named after David Sedaris’s brother: because it’s barely an award at all. Maybe it’s an anti-award? What we’ve figured out in 12 years is that the Tournament of Books (ToB), for all the silly times we’ll mention “bloodsport” between now and April, is actually less an award or event, more a long heated chat about books and reading and writing, and what makes literature good or bad or something in between.
This year, as part of my reading with intention resolution, I am going to make a real effort to read as many of the entered books as I can before the whole thing gets
started finished. As part of my blogging with intention resolution, I am going to make a real effort to post reviews of those books here. As part of my sharing great things with readers of this blog intention resolution, I encourage you to follow the ToB once it gets rolling in March. As part of my being myself with intention resolution, I will not allow myself to be ashamed of my paltry reviews as the ToB judges’ decisions are, by far, consistently the best book reviews I have ever read. So stay tuned here for plenty of thoughts about the books that are up for the Rooster.