Friday, March 14, 2014

Tournament of Books: The Goldfinch v. Long Division

I'm playing along with the Tournament of Books

Today's book match:

The Goldfinch v. Long Division

Kiese Laymon was a new author to me before the Tournament of Books, while Donna Tartt was a definite known entity with books like The Secret History and The Little Friend.

Neither book is perfect.  The Goldfinch spends almost 600 pages being a literary thriller and then attempts redemption in the end by being insightful and "deep," but I felt like the ending was the least successful part.  There is no shame to a well-written literary thriller!  I also felt like the main character was difficult - he isn't a good person, but he's had a hard life.  Tartt does an excellent job of making him complicated and imperfect, where I wasn't sure if I wanted him to succeed or not!

In Long Division, I loved the characters absolutely, particularly Citoyen "City" Coldson, the 14 year old who becomes internet-famous overnight.  The basic framework of his story with time travel didn't always have the consistency I need in a good time travel book.  I would have been just as happy living with the characters in one decade or another, in other words I think the author was compelled to stretch the boundaries of the world his characters lived in, but they didn't need it.  He had created a solid story as it was.  

This is a hard round to call, because the books are so different.  I guess it comes down to which author would I pick up to read again, the one I look forward to the most, and I think my answer to this leads me to select: Long Division by Kiese Laymon as the winner for this round.  

See official judge Héctor Tobar's verdict at the Tournament of Books site.

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