I'm in the relentless grip of Darkmans by Nicola Barker today, the book I had anticipated as the terrible uphill climb on the Booker long list, and there's absolutely no chance of me putting it down.My training has paid off, I'm not even the slightest bit weary with this one.
This the book that the literary world is finding it really tough to diagnose.
I'm seeing it like a modern day version of one of those vast Victorian canvases, The Railway Station or Derby Day, crowded with ordinary people living seemingly ordinary lives, but when you listen to anyone telling the narrative of their life (as I do about twenty times a day) you realise that no life is ordinary.
Everyone's story is their own and they are all unique and fascinating.
So here's Darkmans, a Frith painting but with a twenty-first century twist.
Do you remember those school field trips? Geography, Biology, off you'd all go with your metal coat hangers extended into a square. Then you had to throw it and analyse the contents of the square it created as it landed. OK so occasionally we'd re-launch to try and get a more interesting looking bit of grass, or beach or forest floor.
Well, so far I'm thinking Nicola Barker has tossed a coat hanger into the middle of Ashford, Kent and she is giving me the most extraordinary account of the ordinary lives she has captured in her square, and so far I'm completely in her thrall.
I'm getting the strangest feeling that this is a really important book.
Isn't this what Charles Dickens did?
Much more soon.