Has it been a year already? I feel like it’s only been a few weeks since we finished recording our final podcast, crossed our fingers in hopeful anticipation, and then openly wept when Deborah Levy lost the 2012 Man Booker Award.
Okay, fine. Only one of us wept.
Still, the main thing we all agreed on at the end of the day was that any victory over Will Self would be enough to satisfy us. Now here we all stand, about to unite for the second year of what is quickly becoming our annual tradition of passing judgment on all things Booker. I’ve got a few new streamlined “rules” that we’re applying to this year’s proceedings that I need to get you up to speed on, but before I do, perhaps I should take a moment to catch you up on what each member of our crack team has been up to over the past year, and of course, introduce you all to our newest collaborator.
Aaron: Why not start with me? Alphabetically speaking it just feels right, doesn’t it? Shortly after last year’s Booker proceedings concluded, devastated that Levy was robbed, I literally went off the deep end and folded my blog Opinionless. It was after months of rehab in the poppy fields of Pakistan that I decided to launch the critically acclaimed, but commercially ignored Typographical Era with Hooked Bookworm’s Karli (more on her below.)
Karli: Trading in her love of worms for a love of typewriters Karli folded her blog Hooked Bookworm immediately after her two cats Dimple and Pang Mei died tragically in a hookah related accident involving a bad batch of meow mix. Picking up the pieces after this tragic loss, Karli stoically vowed to reinvent herself as a librarian. These days, you can often find her lost in the stacks of her local branch, muttering “it IS the best of times” repeatedly to herself in the hopes that this form of self-promotion will be so upsetting to all those in the immediate vicinity that they’ll feel obligated to visit her new online home Typographical Era which she launched with Aaron (more on him above).
Mike: After spending a short stint in jail for mistakenly assaulting Eric Idle (he meant to attack Will Self), Mike returned home to Friern Barnet armed with a sleek trannie, a new pair of trainers, and a strong determination to make a new start for himself. Unfortunately he quickly learned that old habits die hard and was subsequently rearrested after an altercation stemming from yet another case of mistaken identity. Mike would like it to be known, for the record, that he is not now, nor has he ever been, a mutton lancer. You dig, poppet?
Michelle: Committed to an asylum shortly after leading the recording of the Bring[ing] Up the Bodies podcast, Michelle still stands by her steadfast belief that all of the dialog in Hilary Mantel’s award winning novel is 100% real. Whenever asked which direct quote is her favorite, without hesitation she responds “what use is a maidenhead the morning after?” Needless to say, Michelle will be joining this year’s proceedings by way of a special day pass.
Elizabeth: In a kneejerk reaction to Tan Twan Eng’s inability to write a novel that involved even a single moment of unpredictability, Elizabeth traded in her promising career in television advertising and travelled to China to become a designer of high end gardening supplies. Unfortunately, an attempt on her life by an overzealous crane left her with memory issues. She’s unable to forget that she won’t ever forget the fact that she thinks she will eventually forget the horrific effect of Eng’s novel on her psyche. Domo arigato, Mr. Aritomo. Seriously, domo.
Jackie: Inspired by Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse, Jackie vowed to build up the strength required to partake in her own walkabout by hiring a German personal trainer named Fuch. At least she thought that was his name. This led to an initial moment of somewhat awkward confusion in which she started to ask him a question by saying “Fuch?” and he replied by vigorously nodding his head in the affirmative. The pair was last seen boarding a ferry for parts unknown and it’s unclear at the time of this writing whether or not Jackie will return in time to participate in this year’s festivities.
Penny: After a series of disastrous blunders that started with the proclamation that she did not like to think or be challenged when she read, and that ended with her boldly proclaiming that she would eat Will Self’s body weight in tripe if Umbrella was shortlisted for the 2012 prize, Penny quickly went into hiding. Recently we uncovered this photographic evidence (see below) that unequivocally proves that she’s made good on her word, so the rest of the group has begrudgingly agreed to welcome her back into the fold and have all started a side wager about how quickly her first major gaffe of the 2013 season will occur.
Jennifer: Our newest BookerMarker is the owner, operator, writer and editor of The Well Read Fish, an internet blog dedicated to covering all things literary. She’s also extremely grateful that she has no personal history with me that I could use against her, but she is currently regretting her decision to reply to the phishing email that we secretly used to bait her into participating in this year’s proceedings. The morale to this story? Always check the current currency exchange rates before saying yes to anything and above all else be sure to read the fine print. There’s no backing out now.
So now that you’re all caught up on what your shadow judges have been up to, here’s a brief rundown of this year’s biggest rule changes.
First, this year we’re taking a much more laid back approach to the longlist. It’s just not feasible given the other time commitments of the judges that the majority would be able to finish reading and reviewing 12 or 13 titles within the compressed time frame available. Instead we’re working from a read-what-you-can system.
Second, we’re adding an additional podcast that should happen just before the shortlist announcement where we’ll boldly argue about which titles should be on the shortlist. You’re welcome.
There you have it! We’re looking forward to another great year filled with fun and spirited debate. We hope you’re still out there reading along with us and that you’ll participate with your comments and thoughts along the way.
Thanks in advance for all of your support and well wishes. Please ship all tripe c/o Penny.