The 2016 Tournament of Books - Zombie Round, Day Two

The 2016 Tournament of Books - Zombie Round, Day Two

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff vs. The Sellout by Paul Beatty


I'm tempted to leave it there - mostly because this is insanely busy day, but I feel like I should something about my sense of the differences between the two books.

The Sellout, as pretty much everyone has said, is not a realistic novel, is not a book read for plot. It is about the sentences, it is about the humor, it is about the ideas. It is a wild and crazy ride of a novel that manages to slice through a lot of big issues in an incredibly deft way.

I think maybe my biggest problem with Groff is that I read it after the book had accumulated hype. Like the idea that's a book about marriage. Well, I thought it was pretty shallow in that regard - not as shallow as its main character Lotto (bazinga) but it's a wild melodrama. The book has an energy, I think Groff is a good writer, but her prose doesn't jump off the page the way that Beatty's does. Also Groff accomplishes a lot of the narrative momentum and energy by adding plot twist after another and after a while, it's tiring.

Melodrama can be something amazing but it's a very fine line to walk. A lot of people don't recognize this, but they do see it when melodrama fails or falters, becomes too saccharine, becomes just outrageous-ness, never quite achieves a level of cohesion. Fates and Furies never manages that. The first half was flat and the second half is wild and overall the effect just doesn't quite work.

Beatty on the other hand, does.

My Verdict:  The Sellout

At the Tournament:  The Sellout

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