Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Bugger - I Didn't Win The Booker...


Well, not that I expected to of course, not being short-listed or even long-listed or even in contention at any stage or anything because I'm not even a smidgen literary. However, I was very chuffed when one of those intense and scary-looking telly arts' commentators said that this year's winner - Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question - was a comic novel and indicated a move away from serious to humorous, from high-brow to middle-brow. Oooh, I thought - one more brow down and there's hope for me and the rest of the Rom-Commers yet. But, sadly, it seems not...

Now, I haven't read The Finkler Question (I've never read anything either long or short listed for the Booker because I'm a pleb), but the little bit I heard being read out last night didn't make me chortle. I actually didn't really understand it... which means, I suppose, that it must be really, really good. And Howard Jacobson showed a great sense of fun (I thought) when he said he'd spend the £50,000 (gulp) prize money on a handbag for his wife with a wry "have you seen the price of handbags?".

However, while I was having a little happy moment about The Man Booker sliding ever so slowly towards people of my limited brain-power, Andrew Motion (chair of judges) sodded it up by describing The Finkler Question as "laugh-out-loud funny but so nearly adjacent to tragedy" and "very sad, melancholic, laughter in the dark..." and then Mr Jacobson himself compounded my deepest fears by saying his novel wasn't "easy-peasy and middle-brow because it's comic. It's much cleverer and more complicated and about much more difficult things..."

Ah, well - many congrats to Howard Jacobson - but I have a feeling that Brian from the kebab van and Maisie the Useless Medium won't be troubling the Booker judges for a while yet...

And - while on the subject of literary fiction - I listened to the first ever Radio 2 Book Club reviews on Monday evening. This time the book chosen was Mr Chartwell - a first-time novel about depression and Winston Churchill and a widowed librarian set over 5 days in the summer of 1964. Mr Chartwell - who has a massive viewpoint role apparently (haven't read this one either because I'm a pleb) - is a giant black dog (black dog equalling depression which is the theme of the novel)... Ooooh, I thought, how many times have I been told that having an animal narrator is a huge no-no - things must be soooo different in Lit Fic Land. The author sounded very young and very happy and has been given a very pleasing advance - which is wonderful for her - but several reviewers said while they loved her descriptions they couldn't understand some of her complex sentences and had to re-read them several times to get the gist... Now, in Commercial Fiction Land that would earn you a sharp editorial rap on the knuckles and a severe editing session...

Oh, well - it's back to the keyboard and baby-easy sentences and Brian from the kebab van and words of one syllable for me...

Oh - and while out yesterday, I saw this notice in the window of The Eight 'til Late:
"Fitzharry's Am Dram Society proudly present Rebbecca by Daphne Du Maurier, unabridged, for three nights, in the Scout Hut".

The burning of Manderley???? The scenes in the south of France??? The costume ball??? Rebecca's boat on stormy seas???? In the Scout Hut?????

I've bought tickets.

12 comments:

Julie P said...

I bet you can't wait for the Am Dram production - sounds very, er, dramatic?!

I'm not a literary bod either - just don't understand literary novels! Not bothered though. Each to their own eh.

Julie xx

Christina Jones said...

Julie - yep, I'm really looking forward to Rebecca and will remember not to snigger all the way through this time the way I did through their version of The Sound of Music with a cast of four. So many quick-changes you wouldn't believe! I do wish I was cleverer so that I could appreciate lit fic instead of wondering when the plot is going to start... Cx

Karen said...

Sooooooooo funny! I hope you report back when you've been to see it.

I do read and enjoy books that could be considered literary if the story happens to appeal to me, but I could NEVER read something 'difficult' just because it's considered worthy or has been on the Booker shortlist. If you have to keep re-reading bits to get the gist, what's the bloody point??

"laugh-out-loud funny but so nearly adjacent to tragedy" Honestly! That sort of comment makes me want to poke my eyes out with a fork.

Rant over.

Christina Jones said...

Karen - oh, I so agree. I've read lots of books that I didn't *know* were literary until later and enjoyed them. It's only when they have the literary label or are so weird (or slow with no plot) that my head hurts that I avoid them because I know I'll only get confused (more confused than usual)... Am thinking of pinching the Andrew Motion quote for TWTAWH! Will let you know how Rebecca goes... Cx

Olivia Ryan said...

Can't wait to hear about Rebecca in the scout hut!!!

And I heard that, too, about the Booker prize winner being a 'comic' novel. Like you, I thought that was a great step in the right direction! Maybe there's hope for you and me yet! (Ha bloody ha!!) xx

Lesley Cookman said...

I might come with you.

And you've no idea how many - hmm - *literary* books I had to read for The Green Carnation Prize. With lots of gay male sex in. Oh, it was luvverly.

Off down the pub now to meet my public. Oh - and when I we going to write our combined Hazy Hassocks/Steeple Martin novel? Bet that'd win a prize...

womagwriter said...

Looking forward to the report of Rebecca!

I like reading literary novels, but can only take so much at a time, and they have to be a good story with believable characters and realistic dialogue, and ... well, they've just got to be a good book, really. I'll read anything, regardless of book-industry labelling, as long as it's a good read.

Christina Jones said...

Olivia - oh, there's always hope - isn't there???? I live on hope (and Toblerone)...

Christina Jones said...

Lesley - wah! SO wanted to be at your signing with all those other novelists... Sadly, TTT didn't arrive home until Saturday evening with the car after I'd spent a frustrating day trying to work out if I could get to Moreton-in-Marsh on public transport (you can't - well, not from here - not in one day). Hope it went really, really well and you sold tons of books. And yes, agree a Steeple Martin/Hazy Hassocks combo would have us short-listed for every prize going. I think.... Cx

Christina Jones said...

womag - yes, agree. As long as I'm not aware of the literary label I'll read anything and probably enjoy it. It's when I'm told it's worthy and full of free-prose and stuff that I panic... Cx

Debs said...

I wish I could buy tickets for that production too. Sounds intriguing!

I was in an Am Dram production at the Jersey Opera House once and in a few at the local parishes. I remember the Musical Director asking me to mime as my singing was so bad. So cruel.

I, too, am indeed a pleb and can only read books that I expect will amuse and/or entertain me, so doubt that I'll be reading much from the Man Booker selection.

Christina Jones said...

Debs - how cruel to make you mime! Still, no doubt you looked lovely doing it - and the Opera House is VERY grand. I'm impressed. If books weren't labelled literary I think I'd be okay - although I do need light entertainment in my reading - but it's just knowing that they might be complicated that addles my shrinking brain... Cx