Sunday, August 15, 2010

Booker Boo

I need to stress a couple of things before we get to the main body of this blog.

1) I am in favour of the ManBooker prize.

2) We will be hosting our Booker Book Club for the second year. More details on our website.

That's all.

Right. I am not denying the ManBooker judges their right to be ManBooker judges. Oh no. Let's get that straight. They have all individually earned their places. Oh yes.

I just have a couple of observations about the whole Booker thing.

1) There are no fiction authors on the panel.

In case you are interested the panel is chaired by Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate, and the judges are Rosie Blau, Literary Editor of the Financial Times; Deborah Bull, formerly a dancer, now Creative Director of the Royal Opera House as well as a writer and broadcaster; Tom Sutcliffe, journalist, broadcaster and author and Frances Wilson, biographer and critic.

The Big Booker prize – as I understand it – is a celebration of literary fiction, isn’t it? Surely, then at least one of the judges should be a fiction author. Maybe it should be mandatory for the previous year’s winner to sit in judgement.

Let us examine the judges a little closer

Andrew Motion. No doubt he’s earned his place. Not a fiction author (according to one of my customers “Poetry is Truth” and therefore not fiction). Check out his ‘Selected Poems’ published by Faber and Faber.

Rosie Blau. No doubt she’s earned her place. Not a fiction author, but definitely an expert in the field of literary fiction.

Deborah Bull. No doubt she’s earned her place. Not a fiction author. She has written the ‘Faber Pocket Guide to Ballet’ published by Faber and Faber.

Tom Sutcliffe. No doubt he’s earned his place. Not a fiction author. He has written the ‘Faber Book of Opera’ and ‘Believing in Opera’ both published by Faber and er… Faber.

Frances Wilson. No doubt she’s earned her place. Not a fiction author. She has written ‘The Courtesan's Revenge: The Life of Harriette Wilson, the Woman Who Blackmailed the King’ and ‘The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth’ both of which are published by…. Well this is a little embarrassing… Faber and Faber.

Am I missing something?... Oh and....

2) The Faberulous Peter Carey looks favourite to win.

Cynical, me? Wouldn't it be terrible if somebody in the ManBooker organisation read this and took it personally. I'd better not post it.... Oh no I've gone and pressed the button now

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Coffee, books, Wednesdays... The Perfect Combination.

On the first Wednesday of every month at about 11:00 one of our book groups gathers in Caffe Latino to do two things: drink coffee and discuss their book choice for that month. This is a picture of us, recently discussing The Seven Fires of Mademoiselle by Esther Vilar...
I say 'us' but obviously I'm not in the photo because I was taking it, and anyway you should all know what I look like by now. In case you've forgotten here I am without my glasses on:

Anyway, back to the book: Seven Fires is a delightfully romantic tale set in America in the sixties, featuring a diplomat's daughter and her arsonist nanny. We all agreed it was highly enjoyable, though perhaps becoming a fire starter is more likely to lead to a criminal record than a lasting relationship. In the past we have read; Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (excellent,) The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (also very good,) and Day by A.L. Kennedy (well I liked it, but everyone else... err... not so much.)

These are just a few of the books we have discussed over the past year or so, and there are many more to come: On Wednesday 1st September we will be discussing Jeff in Venice, Death in
Varanasi, and on Wednesday 6th October it'll be The Canal by Lee Rourke. If you would like to join us to discuss any of these books, you are welcome to come along, and the books are all on sale at the shop.

Finally I'd like to say thank you to Harriet and the staff at Caffe Latino on Wood Green High Road who have helped make the group such a success. They make great coffee and snacks too.