(with grateful thanks to Mr Fishwife for his contributions)
So many books, so little time. I present here the easy crib notes for the vast quantity of (some of them also vast) books on this year's Booker longlist. Yes, I know it's the Man Booker really, but I hate calling it that, and I have actually been asked twice "Is there a Woman Booker prize too?". So don't bother reading them: amaze your friends and astound your colleagues with these nuggets of information*.
A S Byatt "The Children's Book" : Not many people know that A S Byatt was approached to continue Enid Blyton's much-loved Noddy series. This book is about Noddy and his desperate but hilarious attempts to find Big Ears's lost teaspoon! (warning: contains scenes of incest and sniper action).
J M Coetzee "Summertime": Reproduces faithfully the first school essay J M Coetzee (or "Johnny" as he was then) wrote about wot he done in the school holidays. Apparently his father's sandcastle-building skills weren't up to much, but the ice creams were delicious. He got an A-.
Adam Foulds "The Quickening Maze": Honestly, the faster you try to get out, the more lost you get. Just keep turning left.
Sarah Hall "How To Paint a Dead Man": It's a doddle. They don't fidget like live models do. Just make sure you keep the windows open and the central heating off.
Samantha Harvey "The Wilderness": Could really do with a pergola and some radical pruning to those brambles, otherwise fine. Maybe a water feature?
James Lever "Me Cheeta": Yu lose tu me at cards. I taik yur money.
Hilary Mantel "Wolf Hall": Hotly tipped to be this year's winner. The prequel to her spellbinding "Who Let The Wolves Out?"
Simon Mawer "The Glass Room": Lovely to look at, nice to hold, but if you break it, we say "sold"!
Ed O'Loughlin "Not Untrue And Not Unkind": true, and kind.
James Scudamore "Heliopolis": The renaming of Sun City has almost doubled its tourist income!
Colm Toibin "Brooklyn": Not a lot of people know that Brooklyn is a bit like Hoxton. Bit of a schlep on the Metro though. If I were you I'd stay in the Village.
William Trevor "Love And Summer": See above, for Coetzee. Billy Trevor was a little older, though, and as a result this touchingly ill-written account of wot he done on his summer holidays with next door's Dutch au pair contained language the teacher felt it better not to read aloud. He got a D.
Sarah Waters "The Little Stranger": "Darling? Darling? I thought all Saffy's party guests had gone home? Hmm? ...No, he says he's waiting for his mummy. Well we must have invited him, he's got a party bag and everything..."
*Disclaimer: some of the information contained in this post may be (wildly) inaccurate and is not for quotation or press distribution until a finished copy is issued.