The OF Blog: World Cup of Fiction: June 22 Matches

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

World Cup of Fiction: June 22 Matches

Starting the final round of group play matches today.  Now there are four match-ups daily rather than three, making a tired me already even more tired thinking about what new to say.  So here goes:

Group A

Mexico versus Uruguay - In this battle between two Latin American literary sides, the key to this match will revolve around how well the Mexican counterattack, led by Carlos Fuentes and his often fierce political commentaries, can surprise the Uruguayan defense, whose stalwart defense is led by the maddening ferocity of Horacio Quiroga in goal.

Look at how erudite, stern, and perhaps maniacal the two literary stars are!  If Fuentes can maintain his composure, this Boom Generation star may be able to provide the spark that the Mexican side needs to win its group.

Prediction:  Quiroga's history of making spectacular mistakes will cost his side the victory in a fiercely-contested 1-1 draw.  Both sides advance to the Knockout stages.

South Africa versus France - Although it would take a miracle for the actual sports sides in this match to advance to the Knockout stages, if the group results depended upon the literary output, then France would be in a much stronger position, presuming of course that its literary stars would not act the selfish fools that the team players have in recent days.  But then again, this is the French we're talking about, so who knows if the assembled literary stars wouldn't backstab and criticize each other openly before surrendering to a side that at first glance would be weaker than the French.

For this match-up, the French trot out one of their more renowned literary stars of the 20th century, Jean-Paul Sartre.  The hero of existentialists everywhere, Sartre was a womanizing freak who somehow managed to channel all of that oddness and grotesqueness into works that disturbed and yet moved millions of readers.  But look at his mug!  Opposing him is South African writer and activist Nadine Gordimer:

She looks bemused, almost, at Sartre's clumsy attempts to seduce her mind and body.  But Gordimer is made of far sterner material and if South Africa were to hold any chance of staving off the French, then her passionate attacks on social ills (and for this match, the whole of French literature) will have to be able to apply just enough pressure to cause the French side to crack and then to turn upon each other in a mad fit.

Prediction:  Gordimer, with the assistance of Alan Paton, comes through and the French are sent packing in a historic upset...well, historic for any literary side but the French, who seem to thrive on division and self-loathing.

Group B

 Nigeria versus South Korea - After being thumped by the mighty Argentine literary attack, both the Nigerians and South Koreans are hoping that a victory and a loss by the Greeks will enable them to advance to the Knockout stages.  Both sides field some formidable stars.  For the Nigerians, the key to victory will depend upon the deft footwork and crisp passing of Ben Okri.  Okri is a master of communication, as evidenced in his The Famished Road.  He is opposed by one of South Korea's foremost historical fiction writers, Park Kyung-Ri:

As well regarded as Park Kyung-Ri may be in her homeland, this match is being played in South Africa, home to a large body of native Nigerians.  Okri is already doing his best Hulk Hogan impersonation, miming "YOU!," pointing out the frail lady upon whom he'll give the big boot to before dropping the leg.

Prediction:  Nigeria in a hotly-contest battle of literary giants.

Argentina versus Greece - The Argentine side has clearly been the class of Group B and unless there is an improbable blowout defeat followed by a blowout victory in the other match, the Argentines will advance to the Knockout stages as the leader of their group.  Expecting a philosophical struggle from the Pirates of Greece, the Argentines have turned to their captain, Jorge Luis Borges, to be able to provide metaphysical insight into the nature of reality and desire.  The hope is that his labyrinthine stories will prove to be an effective counter to the Greek side's preference for epic poetry to underscore principles of valor and integrity, embodied in their most famous poet, Homer. 

OK, maybe Borges is a bit too blind to tell that the Greeks have substituted in a more modern Homer, but he is, of course, Borges and thus is master of infinite bifurcating paths.  He quickly leads Homer and the Greeks into a maze from which they cannot escape, while Borges' contemporaries, including Adolfo Bioy Casares, beat a well-worn path to the goal.

Prediction:  Argentina romps again, eliminating the Greeks from any hope of advancing to the Knockout stages.

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