Here we go again, Booker longlist day and we've been having great debates over on the Man Booker website about what we'd like to see there versus what might actually be there, so now it's time for a Booker Dozen from Devon.
This pile has been a moveable feast ranged across the book room sofa for days and I keep wandering up and down the shelves, swipping and swapping but I've decided to opt for a list of books I've read, enjoyed hugely and would be happy to pay good money for...not exactly what the Booker Prize is about.
Clicking on @ should take you to my thoughts on each book (and please don't ask how long it's taken to get those links under the right book ) just a couple I haven't posted any thoughts about yet, but they have been great reads for me and are written up and ready to post here regardless of Booker stardom or not.
I would be hand-on heart thrilled to see any of these (in no particular order) on the longlist and several I shall be weeping copiously over if left out.
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
The Children's Book - A.S.Byatt
Brooklyn - Colm Toibin
Hearts and Minds - Amanda Craig
An Equal Stillness - Francesca Kay
Burnt Shadows - Kamila Shamsie
Through Black Spruce - Joseph Boyden
The Tin-Kin - Eleanor Thom
Red Dog, Red Dog - Patrick Lane
The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters
The Glass Room - Simon Mawer
How to Paint a Dead Man - Sarah Hall
The Taste of Sorrow - Jude Morgan
The problem with being a judging panel of precisely one is that you only have yourself to fall out with so several books have been fiercely debated amongst me and myself, bit of ugly book snatching from right hand by the left, hovered around the edges, been there, then not and eventually and very sadly didn't quite make my final cut. This has grievously pained me and myself so I'll be happy to see any of these there too.
Black Rock by Amanda Smyth,
John the Revelator by Peter Murphy,
The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville,
Blackmoor by Edward Hogan,
East Fortune by James Runcie
The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews.
That's all fine, except being thrilled (unless you're the winner) and spending wisely is not what the Booker is about, so now for a few unread possibles which all seem to have something endearing with which to beguile a susceptible Booker judging panel; especially if these judges might be looking to include variety or an edginess to increase the breadth and depth beyond the confines of this ordinary reader, which I think they just might.
I've looked at them all, read fifty pages or so of several and they all have that je ne sais quoi about them and could make the cut...interesting looking at the two stacks, where the colour seems to lie.
Several that I will be reading whether they make the list or not and one This is How by M.J.Hyland that I have a feeling I picked up at the wrong reading moment, so I'll be trying that again soon.
M.J.Hyland's Carry Me Down was my winner a few years ago which is why it didn't win.
Then there are the latest from Margaret Atwood, John Banville, J.M. Coetzee and co which I haven't laid eyes on yet so who knows.
I suspect and hope this year's furore will be about omissions because I can't recall a richer, deeper more exciting year in literary fiction for a very long time. Good to momentarily forget limping financial recessions and burgeoning swine flu epidemics; fiction for readers like you and me feels in good health, vibrant and sturdy enough to see us all through tough times and right now I'm loving it all.
So my fourth online Bookerthon and for anyone with several weeks to spare here's 2006, 2007 and 2008
Let Bookerthon 2009 begin, the only time I allow myself a modicum of book criticism on here (perhaps) and will the 100% record be broken, might this be the year I choose the winner?
I'll be back later with my 'So that just shows how much I know...' post once we have a declaration and I can then see whether my August reading is going to be done and dusted or whether, as I suspect, I have thirteen books waiting to be read.