Sorry this took a little long. I was sidetracked by a discussion of one of the Belle De Jour candidates. It all got very heated. “Look,” I said, “I don’t care whether she writes it or not. And I don’t care what trade she plied after leaving Oxford. That’s an old rumour, we’ve all heard it, and it has nothing at all to do with her possible authorship, so I don’t see why you’re bringing it up. And FYI? Tradition dictates that the words ‘high class’ are used when describing her old profession. Though you’re permitted to substitute or insert ‘international’ for more of a 70s flavour.”
It’s like the 30s! Who wants to know what Tony’s saying about what Evelyn told Maurice about Nancy’s saying that awful thing about Wystan?
Enough popbitchicity for today. On with our smash-hit feature “Judging The Booker By Its Covers”
The Line of Beauty – Alan Hollinghurst
Boooooooring! This says nothing – NOTHING! Cloud Atlas, as we’ve discussed, makes a mistake with its cover by being hideous; the other favourite screws up by saying nothing at all. It sounds like an interesting novel – politics, sex, satire, plentiful larks. But if we try and judge it by its cover, turns out that it’s about some blurry stuff seen through a wonky gate. I also don’t think that there’s a line of beauty in the picture. Some of the wonky gate’s curves kind of describe one, but it could be a bit more explicit. I just don’t like it. I think it thinks its saying something deep through vagueness – “some of us are behind the gate, oohh eden paradise, lies beyond, but exile, light in the distance think of it as England, summer gardens, innocence lost”, but in fact all it’s saying is “wonky, blurry”. Inoffensive is the best we can say for this picture, and that offends me. So, BZZZT! You lose.
The Electric Michaelangelo – Sarah Hall
I’m not wild on that copperplatey font for the title, and the sepia’s no thrill. Why is the woman on the front sitting on a table and stretching? Is it because she’s being attacked by a giant moth? It’s an odd response to a moth attack. Maybe they’re parasitic mind-control moths. Y’see that’s a premise that interests me – but I’d say the design of this cover is misleading, and it’s not actually a book about giant moths that attack people. If I’m wrong, and it is, then the title’s awful. It should be called ‘Moths’, or, at a pinch, ‘The Moths’. So, is the woman an Electric Michaelangelo? I don’t think so. In the end, this cover says the following: “You miss Angela Carter. I miss Angela Carter. We all miss Angela Carter. Why don’t you come in, we’ll have a nice chat about sexuality, story telling and the body, then you can write an essay on me? Okay?” I wanted this one to do better, I really did, but the longer I looked, the more it irked me. Pardon me? What’s that? You want to know what this button does? Let me show you. It makes this noise – BZZZT! You lose.
I’ll Go To Bed At Noon – Gerard Woodward
Literalism! This appears to be someone going to bed, possibly at noon (I hope the photographer was some kind of obsessive perfectionist who insisted on shooting at noon. No earlier, no later.) I think I get the idea – It looks quite English (although I wouldn’t be shocked to find it was from Canada or New Zealand), kind of odd, some kind of retro business going on. I like the fact that it’s not too centred: no border, odd cropping, action at the top. I like the way title and author are on separate steps, and follow the line of the stairs – understated but neat. I don’t absolutely like that green, but it more-or-less works here. The whole thing is a little dated – it feels Pulp circa 1995 – but as far as book covers go, it hasn’t been done to death, and frankly, we’re getting pretty desperate for a winner. I therefore declare that the First Annual Booker Cover Prize (and thus almost certainly the Booker Prize proper) goes I’ll Go To Bed At Noon by Gerard Woodward!