The Sisters Brothers vs. The Complete Cosmicomics
Winner: The Complete Cosmicomics
I was too distracted by the grammar in The Sisters Brothers to really be absorbed by it, and while every one of the Cosmicomics might not have grabbed me, there were enough gems to give Calvino the easy edge. Why had no one thought of writing science fables before? Some are purely magical.
Chess Story vs. The Birth House
Winner: Chess Story
While The Birth House was fine, it didn’t have nearly the emotional punch of Chess Story, which takes less than a hundred pages to rip your heart out, and stomp it into tiny pieces on the floor. It’s a chilling look at the long-term consequences of having survived the Nazis. Size does not equal impact, and this book is living proof. Ow, ow, ow.
Young Miles vs. Clara Callan
Winner: Young Miles
This was a surprisingly hard one! I liked both these books quite a lot, and Clara Callan is one of those indelible characters that sticks with you. Plus, I liked the epistolatory nature of book. But even those things couldn't lift it over the absolutely amazing manic romp of Young Miles. From the frenzy to the pathos, Lois McMaster Bujold has created her own indelible character, writing style that wraps itself around you like a fuzzy blanket, and some damn good science fiction.
The Third Man vs. The Eye of the World
Winner: The Third Man
This one was easy, thankfully. I liked The Third Man quite a lot, and The Eye of the World only passably. One was merely serviceable fantasy, which I have been assured goes downhill from here, and the other atmospheric in Cold War Vienna. It was one of those books I read (there were a number) during our Cold City game that bring back fond memories both of the fiction and of the game.
The Marriage Plot vs. The Secret Life of Bees
Winner: The Marriage Plot
Another easy decision. I didn't like The Secret Life of Bees all that much, particularly on its need to have a white narrator for black stories of the Civil Rights movement, and its emphasis on the maternal black mother substitute. And I did like The Marriage Plot, although not as much as I liked Middlesex. The world of academia, growing up, marriage, and depression. A solid read.