someone smarter than me should try to decode the semifinalist books they eliminated
A ravishingly beautiful, original novel went down when one of us pointed out that, lovely as the book was, Toni Morrison had already told a version of that particular story, to similarly powerful effect, in a single chapter of “Beloved.”
I lobbied to eliminate another because its language was sometimes strong and sometimes indifferent. At one point I said to Maureen and Susan, “Please don’t make me read you a dozen limp, lifeless sentences taken from the book. I don’t want to be that guy.” But I insisted that although there were plenty of good lines, there were simply too many slack, utilitarian ones. And, in that case, the language crank got his way.
A third fell under the wheel (and this one was particularly heartbreaking to all of us) when we reluctantly acknowledged that although it was wonderfully written and fabulously inventive, its central love story, while moving, was insufficiently complicated and a bit sentimental; that it failed to depict the body of darker emotions that are integral to love: moments of rage, disappointment, pettiness, and greed, to name a few.