Wednesday, August 31, 2011

PLJ and Booker nominees

Have you heard of PLJ? It’s a “cordial” you dilute to drink. PLJ is the brand: the product is pure lemon juice. It was advertised in the 60s (yes that’s how old I am)  as a way to lose weight. You were supposed to drink PLJ all the time as a way of retraining your taste so you didn’t like sweet things, and so didn’t eat them, and so lost weight.

Well…for the last year I have been expanding my reading, and in doing so have lost my taste for light fiction (excepting when I’m ill). I’ve been reading some classics I have never read ( e.g. The Grapes of Wrath), and I’ve been reading more books by men than I have in the past. This week I got Sebastian Barry’s A Long, Long Way out of the library, and by the second page I was gripped – by the writing.  Now I can’t believe I am reading descriptions of mustard gas attacks in WW1, or descriptions of violence on Dublin’s streets (the Easter 1916 uprising). Sebastian Barry does indeed “write like an angel” as it says in a plaudit on the back cover.

I have always found Booker winners hard to wrestle with. I gave up on Possession, I lost patience with The Finkler Question, I skimmed The Gathering and Last Orders. I have read several Booker nominees (Room, Digging for America, The Night Watch, Astonishing Splashes of Colour, On Beauty) but in listing them I realise they are all by women. A Long Long Way was also a Booker nominee but it’s the first one I’ve read that’s written by a man. And it’s the writing that hooked me. It is moving, painful and sad, and so many other things as well. I commend it to you.

(p.s. I delight in having odd titles for my posts. I once wrote a post called Buddhism and Dinosaurs thinking no-one would ever Google that – but they do sometimes and then arrive at my blog. If you Google it now you’ll find I am second on the list of links, under Wikipedia.)

No comments: