Are we sick of it yet?
Well we're pacing ourselves here in Devon.
First up The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher, this year's prem-baby sized book, is proving to be a vast and hugely enjoyable read even if it does compromise the blood supply to my lower limbs and there will be no final thoughts any time soon because I'm loving it too much to rush.
At first glance the canvas doesn't seem that huge but Philip Hensher cleverly lets the paint spread and run in all sorts of interesting directions and all in a disciplined fashion. It's the same analogy I used with Nicola Barker's Darkmans, suddenly you realise you are watching one of those great big William P. Frith paintings in the making with a solid cast of more people than you first thought, and you are getting to know them all well.
It tends to be the easy way out these days, to criticise the 700+ pager with allegations of poor editing, but I'm not sure Philip Hensher has wasted that many words. When you stop short and examine closely you realise everything has its own well thought-out place in the big scheme of things, take it out and things are definitely not the same. The Northern Clemency is impressing me with the sheer stylish brilliance of the well-concealed structure, all mediated beautifully through the lives of the characters.
It's the old Fair Isle jumper at work again, lots going on round the back but it's the front that grabs our attention.
It proved to be a very interesting exercise over on the Picador blog, asking everyone for their longlist suggestions because forty lists appeared and with them came a kaleidoscope of contemporary fiction titles. In amongst, can you believe it, someone called Michael Portillo who guessed all thirteen titles.
But from those lists plenty of titles cropping up time and again, it was a real Reader's Booker and so whilst I wait for Sir Salman Rushdie to make his grand entrance, and that is requiring some readerly preparation here aka gathering the nerve to open the book, I'm slotting in an occasional Reader's Booker.
The Truth Commisioner by David Park collected quite a few recommendations so I've slipped that in alongside Netherland by Joseph O'Neill and The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser.
Haven't hit the wall yet.