Sunday, August 13, 2006

Li'l Things

The Booker Prize longlist is announced tomorrow, with a month till the shortlist. The longlist, I think, is really a sop to all those big hitters who need to get mentioned in despatches for their latest novel, but probably don't need to win/be shortlisted. A literary titan who doesn't make the longlist might as well pack their bags and go home, I suppose. I've read 3 of last years shortlist, 3 to go - so it's going to be a push to do it before this year's shortlist. I was in Waterstones yesterday and almost got tempted by their 3 for 2 offer, mainly because I wanted to get Michael Cunningham's Specimen Days but it's discounted on Amazon anyhow, and finding the other 2 was going to be problematic. Also, returning tomorrow, an anti-Booker list, if you like, is the next edition of Scarecrow. Tom McCarthy's "Remainder" was finally reviewed in the Guardian yesterday, as was, long overdue, Chris McCabe's debut poetry collection, "The Hutton Report." Will our children remember what the Hutton report was? It's already receding in memory, like the Dreyfuss Affair, or Westland. Yet, elsewhere in that edition, Ruth Padel is another poet talking amongst themselves. Apparently a heckler in the house at the Ledbury Poetry Festival thinks all poetry should rhyme. There was a protest, apparently, from some traditionalists. Since, as she points out, this is an argument that goes back to Wordsworth, and beyond, you'd think the arguers would be treated like flat-earthers. I rhyme occasionally, usually in my lighter verse, it has to be said, and occasionally - as do many others - midline. It's a sad, inevitable fact, that almost without exception, a contemporary poet rhyming will either sound too lighthearted, or simply archaic. This bridge has too long had a river under it.

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