Friday, December 24, 2004


Here it is again: Christmas. It does seem to roll round so quickly these days, not like when I was young...

Anyway, here's one or two final links from me before the big day:

The Independent gives us a list of 2004's winners and loosers. In the main, waves of applause for Richard and Judy and Independent Publishers, but a chorus of boos, please, for HarperCollins and Supermarkets.

If you have any interest in the award at all, I urge you to check out the People's Choice page for the first ManBookerInternational Prize 2005. Have a vote; go on.

Since discovering it last week, I've spent about three hours bumming around there, looking at the authors that people think should get the award, and the various comments. Margaret Atwood is in front. While I'd like her to, I have a hard time believeing that she really will win. She's far too obvious. For its inauguration, they're not going to go for someone obscure (and they're definitely not going to go for Yann Martel; to put his name forward is frankly ridiculous, I think, based solely on a single novel), but I don't really think they're going to go for someone safe and predictable, either. They'll want a little spice to it, after all. They don't want people walking away thinking "well, duh". The problem is, who else is there? Apart from Atwood, Roth and Updike (who undoubtedly all do deserve the prize), who else is there who has done so well and is yet not obvious? Why, J.M. Cotzee! you might say. Possible, but I highly doubt they'll give it to someone who won the Nobel a mere two years ago... You might suggest Haruki Murakami, who is excellent also, but he's only really caught on here very recently... That leaves....well... Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez (watch out for Don Delillo, too). Unless the people who suggested Paulo Coelho were actually serious... (Indeed, Clive Cusser too, come to that.)

Anyway, my final link before Christmas will take you to The Man Who Fell Asleep, my humourous website of the year. Basic premise: he's a man who writes down the snatches of conversation he heard on the London Undergund, then puts them on the internet. They're hilarious (most of them.) For example, this gem: "I took paracetamol. Then aspirin. Then ibuprofen. But I feel worse than ever. "

Want another? "No one is going to vote for Kerry. Have you seen the size of his chin?!?"

Another?: "We went into that posh bar and had a raspberry beer. We were the only people there."

Another?: "Who is that girl? She's like... twelve... and she's singing about relationships."

Another?: "Toto was the dog. Dorothy was the girl."

Another?: "Michaela is pregnant again. I can't remember a time when she hasn't been pregnant."

Another?: "She said she wanted a facial. I said I'd give her one... she didn't think it was funny."

Another?: "Diagnosis Murder? Diagnosis fucking rubbish, more like."

Another?: "I never know what they mean by 'smart casual'."

Another: "Have you made sure that Chrissy can't find the medicine bottle?"

Sorry, I'll stop that now. I think they're hilarious. But that 's probably just me.

Merry Christmas!