2024 Tournament of Books: The Guest vs Brainwyrms/The Shamshine Blind vs Chain-Gang All-Stars

In the upper right corner of the grid, I completely disagreed with the judges of the first round, so we get a pair of completely non-overlapping competitions here.

The alternate history

In the universe where the judges made the correct decision, the match-up would be between Chain-Gang All-Stars and The Shamshine Blind. I’m faced with a choice between two first novels, each flawed in their own ways, but I think that as a novel, The Shamshine Blind is more successful in its endeavors so I pick it to advance in my alternate universe.

The actual match-up

Both of these books made for uncomfortable reading. In The Guest, it’s the chaos that the protagonist inflicts on the world that causes the discomfort, in Brainwyrms, it’s the chaos that the world in flicts on the protagonist that causes the discomfort. Overall, though, I found The Guest to be the more coherent of the two novels so it’s my pick to advance.

My judgment on the judgment

Reading Dan Sinykin’s commentary on the books, I was struck by (a) how much more he liked Brainwyrms than I did and was simultaneously reminded of just how transgressive that book was (which, to my bourgeouis shame probably contributed to my not enjoying it that much). But, either way, we managed to match up in our choice of which book should advance.


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