Have just finished reading a thriller by a writer I didn’t know, ‘Cause For Alarm’ by Erica Spindler who has evidently written a number of the same genre. It’s one of those books left behind by holiday makers. Not as good a writer as Karen Slaughter, if I had read one more time of ‘eyebrows knitted together’ or hearts ‘thundering’ I think I would have screamed, but she can certainly spin a good yarn. Had me hooked from the very first page but more important I really empathised with the characters and though I was dying to know how it would end was never tempted to cheat, so maybe that is a sign of good writing. I still say though if the same phrase is repeated over and over and over again, that’s bad. Surely if she didn’t notice it herself, her editor should have.
The America language is weird. The past tense of dive is dove. I could put up with that as Miss Spindler is American but when Val McDermid used the American past tense for fit – that is still fit, instead of fitted, it drove me up the wall.
Howard Jacobson at the age of 68 has won the Man Booker Prize with his latest and eleventh novel ‘The Finkler Question’. Evidently his mother didn’t believe it would win because it might be a bit too Jewish. Why she should think that heaven alone knows. Jacobson has never been anything other than Jewish. He didn’t believe it would win because he’s got close enough twice before and never made the finishing line.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph I thought Jacobson had some pretty interesting and pertinent remarks to make, in particular, evidently the prize matters to him most of all because he feels the book is worthy of it and it is an award for good writing at a time when schools have stopped teaching literature and the celebrity memoir/novel has corrupted the coinage. ‘It’s not a prize for effort. It’s not a prize for youth, it’s not a consolation prize for me. It’s a prize for bloody writing. We desperately need it because fewer and fewer people know what writing is. They are not taught it anymore. They are not taught to read. We have a disinherited population. Kids are given books about their own lives. Nothing that pushes them or extends them. It is disgusting and insulting.’
There is one comment he makes though with which I disagree. To the question did he feel a worm of jealousy in earlier years he replied, ‘Yes. You are not meant to admit it but writers are naturally jealous of one another’s success, partly because it is so hard to get heard, so hard to get readers; to get noticed for what you do. It would be a lie to pretend otherwise. You try to fight it. We are thin skinned people; otherwise we would not be in this game. It is very important not to give in to the meaner emotions.’
The fragment I am at odds with is ‘writers are naturally jealous of one another’s success.’ Not always true, Mister Jacobson. If I read something which truly excites me by the talent it displays I couldn’t wish the author more success and I am not in the least bit jealous of it.
So congratulations for winning the Man Booker, Mister Jacobson, and I hope the handbag you buy your wife out of the £50000 is a real beauty!