Eventually it was Michael Portillo's blog that ended the reverie of middlebrow-land. I've a bit of a soft spot for Michael since he did that TV programme; When Michael Portillo Became a Single Mum, moving in to look after the family on benefits.
My new middlebrow reading treatment, currently in the trials stage, was that if I mixed in some non-fiction alongside the fiction I wouldn't get genre-weary quite so quickly and might be able to stay in middlebrow country for a while longer. It really is a very nice, happy, tranquil place to be but it's not a real enough place for me and eventually the call of the cutting-edge gritty contemporary will prevail I just know it.
Meanwhile it was The Life of a Provincial Lady, A Study of E.M.Delafield and Her Works by Violet Powell which had my attention. Contained therein not only a detailed appraisal of all Edmee Elizabeth Monica de la Pasture's fiction, but also her own account of an early foray into the world of the closed convent as a postulant for a year. Emerging after a period of acute spiritual crisis, Violet Powell points out that Edmee turned that potential disaster into an increased independence of character and from thence cometh the fiction. I didn't know any of that so all fascinating and had half thought the book might lead me into an EMD foray, she's quite local after all, but it didn't.
Further EMD reading will have to wait for another day because Michael Portillo has waltzed in.
He's chairing the Booker Prize this year and being an addict I must pay attention and not take my eye off the Bookerthon 2008 ball even with so many other exciting reading projects in progress. The howl of contemporary literature is a powerful one for me and I have relented because I bet you I already have some longlist contenders on my shelves and suddenly, as in right that minute, I had to find them.
Nothing like going out on a limb and boldly declaring, it's time to start guessing and I have quite a few in the pile here already.
Wandering along the shelves I came across The Age of Shiva by Manil Suri and wondered whether this might fit the 'not child's voice-not UK' slot ? Manil's also made the longlist before so that's bound to help.
It seems to have all the right ingredients even down to a puff on the cover from Kiran Desai
' I read this marvellous book in one sitting.'
At 450 pages Kiran clearly has even more reading time available than me and is also probably less disposed to a deep vein thrombosis than I would be if I sat immobile for that long.
So far The Age of Shiva is ticking boxes. India post-colonial, post-partition, religious divisions and the plight of women thrown in for good measure and I am deeply engrossed in the life of Meera, married in haste to the singer Dev. It's well-written and as a canvas this feels as broad as Naseem Murr's The Perfect Man which made the 2006 longlist, but this is a big book, will it sag somewhere along the way?
I'm also intrigued by the author, Manil Suri, a Professor of Mathematics who feels sure we all have an innate wiring for maths, and those of us who doubt such a thing may have suffered an early short circuit.
Let's be honest, my maths fuse box blew to smithereens when I was about nine or ten and was placed in the headteacher's special maths group of eleven-plus candidates who might sail through on the English but fall flat on their faces with the Maths.
Manil's right, it was purgatory of the most terrifying kind and I don't think that particular mains circuit has ever been properly repaired.
Even if I've got it all wrong, and Manil's not a Booker contender, there has not been a single second wasted so far reading this book, much more about it soon.