Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Comforts of Diversity

One of my favorite online events is currently taking place: The Tournament of Books. I can't remember right now how many years this event has been going on, but the idea is that novels published during the past year are pitted against each other in competitive fashion, despite their having nothing in common except being works of literature, having been published in the past year, and being selected for the Tournament of Books. The Tournament adopts the model of the NCAA basketball tournament, with its brackets (something I have never understood). A different judge decides the outcome of each match-up, despite the oft-repeated point that it's truly impossible to say that one book is "better" that the other or that one can "win" over another. For more details about the methodology and so on--and the delightful and insightful commentaries--visit the tournament pages. The overriding idea is that people are out here who love literature and love to read it, read about it, think about it, and talk about it. Count me in.
     On this blog, I often talk about the discomforts of diversity. In fact, that is the title of the blog, though I know I often drift. The point today is that one thing I love about the Tournament of Books is seeing the enormous diversity and variety of points of view on any book--from best of the year to couldn't stand it, couldn't even read it, with everything in between. And these being articulate and literary folks (the judges, the color commentators, and the public commenters), they know how to explain why the love or the annoyance or repugnance or indifference or whatever it may be.
     Although divergent opinions can sometimes cause discomfort, in this context, I find that range and diversity to be extremely comforting. This is because as a writer, as my book baby-steps out into the world, uncertain what kind of welcome or unwelcome reception it will receive from possible shepherds and advocates and publishers, I can remind myself of that diversity.


Jim Poznak said...

Still, it's hard to take comfort from the diversity of opinion about one's own work.

Susan Messer said...

Too true. We want everyone to love it when it's ours.