Thursday, 27 August 2009

Dummies' Guide to the Booker longlist

(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.


Mwa said...

That's too silly.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Damn it was fun to write though. I would have done a real one but there are going to be a million of those...

Lola said...

Dear Mr & Mrs Fishwife!

Based on your "Dummies' Guide" extract here, you should write your OWN book. It would go straight to the top of any longlist. Period. No contest!


PS Am transfixed by the current (and last) series of The Wire!

Lucy Fishwife said...

Why Nora you charmer! We may start with a blagger's guide to great works of literature people can't ever quite finish (Ulysses, Proust, Gravity's Rainbow, etc). After all, if NO-ONE has ever finished them, who will quibble with Molly Bloom's amazing all-singing all-dancing spaceship departure on the last page?

Vicus Scurra said...

Now that you have set yourself up as an expert, I need to seek your counsel. I recently started to read "Will" by Christopher Rush. I decided, after a couple of chapters, that I did not want to read it. But maybe you can save me the temptation of returning later, and tell me what happened to the central character.
Many thanks.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Well, since you haven't read it either, I feel safe in informing you that the protagonist's transgender reassignment is entirely successful, and s/he moves to the outback to finish writing that scurrilous roman a clef about the Bloomsbury Set.

Lucy Fishwife said...

.... sorry, I meant the roman a clef about Beaumont & Fletcher.

Lola said...

Reminds me of a university friend who, when asked which period she'd selected for her PhD in German Literature, categorically plumped for the earliest possible - Old High German. Firstly, because there would be less to research and secondly, and more importantly, even fewer academics who'd actually read it!

French Fancy... said...

Hahaha - the only one I've read is the Byatt and your resume is spot on - but you forgot to mention Noddy's hat with the bell. Do try and be accurate Mrs F.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Nora - what a freakish coincidence, that was in fact my grandfather's field of expertise (or one of them - he was Mr Academia). One reason why I totally bodyswerved German and went for French. No huge family pressure (except for my grandmother being French Swiss...)

FF - I was hoping to draw a discreet veil over Noddy's hat with a bell, considering what he does with it in later chapters.

JRSM said...


kathaurielle said...

still not read that sarah waters.. what am i waiting for?