The editors at the Morning News asked me to be one of the judges in this year’s Tournament of Books. Today’s match features Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna against Bill Cotter’s Fever Chart. From my decision:
- When I first held The Lacuna and read the jacket copy, I thought of the rule that you should never title a novel after its central metaphor—by drawing too much attention to it, you suck all the air out of it. At the time I thought it seemed like ridiculous advice but it turned out to be true in Kingsolver’s novel—if the title had been something else, I wouldn’t have felt so punched by the meaning of the book. At first glance, each of these novels seemed so different as to be impossible to compare. How to pit the qualities of a sweeping multi-character historical epic against the small, sure-footed story of a madman trying to just be right with the world and maybe get some?
For the rest of my decision, read on here.