It's an annual tradition here at the cafe for C.S. to read and handicap the National Book Award winners. Baseball season conveniently ends shortly before the five finalists are announced on October 10, so the timing is excellent.
Following his personal tradition, C.S. devotes the hours immediately after the announcement to locating and buying first editions of the fiction nominees. Sometimes it takes more than one bookstore. This year he found all the novels in one sweet location.
(BTW, also part of C.S.'s personal collecting rule is that he must buy his books in person or receive them as gifts. That way the quest isn't too easy and he enjoys some adventures along with his purchases.)
Anyway, the timing continues to be excellent because the Miami Book Fair takes place in mid-November, usually featuring finalist authors, so C.S. has the opportunity to get his first editions signed. Always an eye on the future, that guy. He's ended up with some relatively rare books that way.
Unlike some collectors, C.S. actually reads his books. Every year he puts the hammer down and reads all his NBA finalists before the winner is announced. This year he had 160 pages left on the final day, but managed to finish with 10 hours to spare.
In years past he's also correctly predicted the winner, based on his own reading acumen, 13 of 14 times! Unfortunately, this year dropped his record to 13 of 15. He found it difficult to make a prediction: the books were quite evenly matched, unlike some years past where there were a few strong candidates and others clearly not equal to the standard. (If you want to read some of those past prediction posts, click here to find them collected, along with a few reviews.)
This year, C.S.'s personal favorite was A Lucky Man; he feels it has the potential to be enduring. He picked The Great Believers and Florida as the two most likely winners. Two long shots were Where the Dead Sit Talking and The Friend. Ultimately, after some thought, he chose Florida as the most likely to win.
And of course we now know that The Friend won. Sometimes longshots come through!
C.S., however, remains skeptical. He's just not sure that a women bonding with a Great Dane is enough to hang a novel on, much less a prize-winning novel. Maybe I'll have to read it myself!