Saturday, 30 October 2010

I'm not sulking, honest

I really didn't mean to stop posting once they announced the wrong Booker prize winner.
Perhaps it's more
1. a slowing down of reading, mainly into War & Peace, which I'll not be finishing for a while, therefore not much new to write about that I've written;
2. the reasonably time-consuming work project I've been quite absorbed with (the happening phrase is "FRSME", pronounced to almost-rhyme with "frisbee", and often coming along with FRED);
3. my disastrous attempts at knitting which mean I don't even have anything to show you there; and
4. the fact that A WEEK TODAY I'll be getting married. Or, acknowledging the existence of the DF, we'll be getting married.

I'm going to try and get myself back in the habit, though. In particular, if you are a very very lucky blog audience then after today I'll have some lovely glazed pots to show you, assuming that I suddenly develop more skill with the bucket than I've shown before.

PS they really did choose the wrong winner, if this is what's valued in contemporary fiction then I give up, etc...

Monday, 11 October 2010

2010 Booker prize winner

Obviously I don't know yet...but I feel it important to put my heart on the line and commit to my certainty that it should be the McCarthy. Of all the six, it's the one that I least wanted to put down, and the one that captured my imagination most.

I haven't really explained my views on the final two, though.
Number, what, 50?, was The Finkler Question (Jacobson) and I've been stewing about what to write about it because it seems like a touchy subject. Having stewed, though, I can't say much better than that I'm not comfortable with anti-semitism, no matter who it comes from, and nor do I have a lot of time for cliche and lazy stereotyping.
To finish the six, and it did turn out to be a bit of a race, I had the longest, 51 Parrot and Olivier in America. I'm so recently finished that I might have to give a more reflective comment in a few days, but for now I should say:
1. It would be a worthy second choice for the prize, if C can't have it.
2. It has much of what I admired in the McCarthy - the ambition, scope, muscularity and so on, as well as a good weight, and
3. it's very clever, and carries off the two narrative voices very convincingly, but
4. this is sometimes too clever. Perhaps it was cleverer than the McCarthy, but it certainly wore it less lightly, and
5. Emotionally, it didn't engage me like the McCarthy. I don't feel bereft at having finished it, and I can't quite imagine reading it again.

So, to be clear, first choice by miles, the McCarthy, second choice the Carey, anything else a travesty.

Feel free to taunt me if I turn out to have been wrong.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Mercifully short

What can I tell you about 49 In a strange room?

I had to read it, because it was number 4 on the shortlist, and I admit I posted a week or two back complaining about some of the books being short, with this one in mind (it's about 150 pages). Now, though, it really does feel like a mercy, because I only had to wade through a short amount of sub-creative-writing-class codswallop.

I mean, who above the age of 14 thinks it's stylistically clever to describe your main character as "he" for part of a paragraph and "I" for the rest? I guess it was done to show something very deep about detachment from your own actions and the ability to observe self from the outside - but done with this heavy-handedness it looks much more like the editor was off sick that day so they just bound up the first draft of the manuscript into a book.

Really, I can't think of a redeeming feature, except that it was short.
(Puts me in mind in a different way of an old joke used by Woody Allen in Annie Hall (and I mention Woody Allen with purpose, gearing up for my next post which will also be a rant); "the food's terrible, and such small portions". Here, I'm profoundly grateful for the small portion).