Betting on the Tournament of Books

The Morning News Tournament of Books is alive and kicking. The truly strangest choice, however, was Danny Gregory’s endorsement of I Am Charlotte Simmons over Wake Up, Sir! “Slither slither” over a playful Wodehouse homage?

Well, nobody said this was perfect.

But since people seem to be betting on the results and we’ve recently been applying “thin-slicing” to nearly every aspect of our lives (to say nothing of our ignoble yet inconclusive efforts to get the inside dirt from the honorably recalcitant Mark Sarvas), if we were betting men, we expect Susanna Clarke to get deservedly flogged. We also believe that Jessa Crispin will say no to Cloud Atlas. Because heaven forfend that a damn fine novel get widespread recognition. We also predict that Maud will side with The Plot Against America.

So if our educated guesses make you a small fortune, you know where to send the 10%. And that concludes our Meyer Lansky moment of the year.

On the Rebound

Perhaps consulting the will of Dr. Evil, Susanna Clarke has netted a millionaire’s deal for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, an 800-page novel dealing with the last two magicians in England. Fortunately, Clarke has staved off Harry Potter ripoff claims. Because Clarke conveniently started her book “10 years before.” News of the Clarke deal has spread far and wide across the publishing industry, with agents encouraging novelists to “backdate their drafts” for anything remotely derivative.

Is David Mitchell’s Ireland’s answer to Pynchon? The Telegraph tries to find out (user:, pw: mabuse). Mitchell is one of Granta’s 20 Best Young UK Novelists. And Sam Leith believes that Mitchell’s latest, The Cloud Atlas, will be one of the highest praised books of the year.

Judith Jones will fuck your shit up. Not only has she given John Updike at least three black eyes, but she’s also lacerated Anne Tyler several times while editing her novels. However, the Baltimore Sun concludes that Jones is an editor who balances gentleness with harsh intervention, when necessary.

Borders is tapping into inner-city neighborhoods. The Times claims that recent stores built in Detroit and Chicago are for “underserved” neighborhoods. The Detroit Free Press suggests that there’s plenty of indepdent life still left. The Detroit store was built in a downtown section that once housed sizable retail. And at 8,000 square feet, it’s apparently “the biggest store since Hudson’s closed 20 years ago.” Borders claims the Chicago store in Uptown is an effort to “revitalize” a commercial district, but it looks like gentrification to me.

Salon has a mystery round-up, which should please Sarah.

Meghan O’Rourke claims that Naomi Wolf is setting the fight against harassment back. More from the Observer.

Sean “Puffy” Combs and Raisin in the Sun? Say it ain’t so.

Chick lit, lad lit, and now Can lit. But in this case, it looks like David Solway may be Canda’s answer to Dale Peck.