2024 Tournament of Books: The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store vs Open Throat

Open Throat is structurally similar to Dayswork in that it’s composed of short paragraph-long sections, but the resemblance ends there. The narrative is told from the perspective of a dispossessed mountain lion, inspired by the real-life P-22 (who’s mentioned in the acknowledgments). The story takes a bizarre twist where the mountain lion befriends a young woman and there’s a fantasy sequence where the two of them go to Disneyland which was also the point where Hoke lost me.

But for the point of the competition, the more important point comes down to the match-up. Hoke, has the misfortune of being matched against James McBride whose The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store shows the kind of mastery a writer who has been publishing novels for twenty years with a calm confidence that shows his mastery of the craft. There are some aspects of the novel which show some faltering, but overall, I found myself reading the novel and admiring McBride’s talents. It’s really not a competition. The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store should win this.

My judgment on the judgment

Once again the official judge (Dan Kois in this instant), manages to come to the right judgment (i.e. mine). He is bit more generous towards Open Throat than I was an less generous to The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store, but there was nothing that I could really find fault with.






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