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Unsolicited Blurbs for Previous
Winners of The Booker Prize

by Lee Henderson

PH Newby
Something to Answer For
Twelve mighty steps towards the inviolable, hazy-crazy mystical mountain peaks of genius. The great master of the concise phrase and the upturned, zombiefied character is back with the most shuddering, moth-scream of a novel I've read in the years since my divorce.

Bernice Rubens
The Elected Member
The glottal gasps of my own feeble night-time cries for tenderness may go unrequited for many raw years to come, but I know, when there is no one left for me, still I will always nuzzle the distant and gentle beat from the sleepless heart of Bernice Rubens.

VS Naipaul
In A Free State
The terrible, low-rider, leather jacketed and switchbladed violent prose of VS Naipaul has never been so sharply put to use as it is here, in "In A Free State", a novel so audacious, funny, and deviant, that a mockery of Christ himself never saw so many eyes aboggle.

John Berger
The inscription from my copy of this book says it all, "Lee, I think you'll really love this book, which breaks my heart. As you read through, you'll see I've written my own notes in the margins, which explain why, besides you being full of shit, I find you such a total failure, not just in our home-life, but generally in life as well, and then I go on to explain, in the later and extremely suspenseful final chapters, why I think that our relationship should end here, once we've both read G."

J G Farrell
The Siege of Krishnapur
An unexpected wow-a-minute page-turner for an abstruse historical epic. Has all the charms of Kafka, but without the bureaucratic obsessions.

Nadine Gordimer
The Conservationist
A roving and unblinking eye on the conceptually idealized space of a once distant planet of human honesty. If books could kill, I'd use this one on my ex.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Heat & Dust
Somehow Jhabvala straddles the parrallel bars of absurdity and moral righteousness without tearing herself a new asshole.

David Storey
My rekindled thirst for acceptance among that elusive breed of steely-eyed young women who prefer tight black turtleneck sweaters and tapas, has sent me down some pretty godawful blind alleys and crackhouse cul-de-sacs, but no one has succeeded in pulling me out of a den of my own self-loathing crapulence like David Storey.

Paul Scott
Staying On
Life's rich pageant has never looked so gay and inviting as it does here. In Scott's words, a plum becomes plumage, and a brill becomes brilliant.

Iris Murdoch
The Sea, The Sea
When you've looked out the window for so many hours knowing that you are too afraid to step out the door and actually face the life you tried to stop from hurtling so terribly close to ruin, but could not stop, then take refuge in the truths that Murdoch carries like laudanum in her prose.

Penelope Fitzgerald
Quiet, dense, almost preciously xylographic.

William Golding
Rites of Passage
Worth the stress and irate phone calls from lawyers demanding that the money spent on this book should have gone towards the defaulted alimony payments. To know that just one frightwig of a novel, as this one surely is, can upend a life, is praise enough.

Salman Rushdie
Midnight's Children
A book for all children who know they are loved by someone, somewhere, at all times, even if it doesn't seem like it at the moment, what with all the fighting and guilt-traps and deadly compromises that must be made in order for a child to be raised properly.

Thomas Keneally
Schindler's Ark
A nightmare swaddled in the hoary fabric of horror. The shrill blade of reason cuts so deep it cuts right through and just leaves you an amputee, after you've read this book.

JM Coetzee
Life & Times of Michael K
I enjoyed the part where he was put in the labor camp, I thought that part was well-written to the extreme.

Anita Brookner
Hotel du Lac
An azure splash of pure ecstatic and chlorinated peace on the dry blood-caked sands of our violent times. As prosaic and penumbrous as Pynchon, but shot through with the hilarity and hedonism of Hemingway.

Keri Hulme
The Bone People
I recall the scene in "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover", when the guy shoves the love letters down the other guy's throat with a letter opener and the way I gagged then, as if it were me there, dying from the torture of infidelity's words, and I regret now, looking back, my own actions, which brought me to read the book you left behind inside an old purse in the closet: The impressive, all-too-rare power of Keri Hulme's "The Bone People".

Kingsley Amis
The Old Devils
A mordant, kite-wheeling, wind bluster of a novel, that speaks as much to our treasonous and mendacious times as it does to other things. I was instantly captured by the blazing descriptions of streets, and Amis succeeded in keeping my eyes crazy-glued to the pages by dint of his mordant characters and their blustery lives.

Penelope Lively
Moon Tiger
Move over Dante, because this inferno is burning down the door. Like twelve roaring furnaces stoked with the bones and teeth of writers not half as witty or mordant as Penelope Lively, this novel is hell-in-a-handbasket good. And by the way, I am not envious of your new life, so please stop leaving messages on my answering machine blaming my jealousies and insecurities for why you had to leave me. Because that is just total bullshit.

Peter Carey
Oscar & Lucinda
Only pure whimsy and deadly cowboy style aim could have made Carey's novel as incredible as it is. There is not a whiff of obligation or hard work in Carey's lightspeed prose, and never for a moment a glimmering of that shameful act we call careerism. Here, people, is a novel that doubles as art. As good as Nabokov, only better.

Kazuo Ishiguro
The Remains of the Day
Another favorite book of my ex-wife, who, when after her father was cremated, told me she'd rather talk in private with the novels of Ishiguro, I took to mean that I could not communicate as deeply, as somberly, or as wisely, as a man she knew only through his fictions. Terrible, albeit, flattering praise for the kind of writer she believes I won't ever, ever become.

AS Byatt
I read it in university just after a book by Jane Austen, the title of which I forget at the moment, and although I preferred the Austen book, this one was also quite well-written, especially considering it had so many words and a lot of them were in italics. Kudos to Byatt for upstaging her sister once again, and proving a whole generation of feckless Brits that sibling rivalry is not a thing of the past.

Ben Okri
The Famished Road
Unbelievably scrumptious.

Michael Ondaatje
The English Patient
A harrowing, scurrilous mind-warp, like a fleet of blazing on fire Trojan horses sneaking loudly through the sleeping ear of expectation, damaging only the sensibilities of the naive, the claustrophobic, and the explicitly weak. On the withering branch of literature a new green, wet bud has appeared, screaming.

Barry Unsworth
Sacred Hunger
His best novel, by a long shot.

1993 Roddy Doyle
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
Don't laugh, for this humor carries with it the stick of all-out war. War on the foundations of know-how.

James Kelman
How Late It Was, How Late
Written under the stupor of genius.

Pat Barker
The Ghost Road
Boo-ya! With "The Ghost Road" Pat Barker has given us a novel with all the awesome great comebacks I wish I'd been agile and lucid enough to use when I'd needed them most, i.e. back in November when she finally announced she was remarrying, and this time to, of all things, a former Booker prize nominee who she'd met at a fucking fundraiser for literacy. And she tells me this over the phone, from an airport, because she's leaving right this instant to meet him in Marseille where they're filming a TV movie based on one of his other books, and it's like 2 in the afternoon and I'm still in my robe and I haven't shaved in like five days and there's a pimple on my back that's so big I have a headache from it. Fucking hell.

Graham Swift
Last Orders
Who really gives a shit? I mean really? A reworking of Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying"? I mean come on. Fucking hell.

Aruhdhati Roy
The God of Small Things
This book is totally totally amazing. I think it's my favorite book ever. I really love this book. It's a great book for me, because I'm single, and I understand that Roy is also still single, and I feel like if Roy and I ever met we would really hit it off big-time, because I can tell we already have so much in common, and if things worked out between us, I would treat her so good, and support her artistically, and even financially, if I had to, because I believe in her writing, and because she's so very beautiful, and not just on the skin, but also under the skin she's beautiful. I think it would be really really great if we at least became friends, and then we could wait and just see what happens. You know, let the chips fall where they may, sexually speaking.

Ian McEwan
The only time I visited Amsterdam I actually fell into a bush I was so stoned. And I was afraid of the prostitutes, by the way, who looked like they would want to stick their fingers up my ass until my tongue popped out my mouth. They looked evil in the ways of sexual know-how, and I couldn't even really look at them, because of the terror I felt in my heart.

JM Coetzee
A little dark-blue monster of melancholy and regret, hiding behind its own leather wings like a bat, too gentle and mournful to even dive down from it's perch among the stalactites and nestle its poison-tipped teeth into your mind; and yet you succumb to its enchantments anyway, giving yourself like a slut to the charms of its skill, like you always do, you slut. Not specifically this book, but in general. Oh, god, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say any of that. It's just sometimes I feel so wounded I need to lash out.

Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin
Dangerously, deceptively, and elusively nice. A virtuosic work like a million wasps buzzing the notes of a violent, apocalyptic guitar solo, like that awesome solo in the middle of Slayer's song 'War Ensemble' or something to that effect, but I kind of imagine it with more really high pitched squealing high-notes that go on and on audaciously, and obviously a bit of a film noir edge added to that, and some references to academia. But in a good way.

Peter Carey
True History of the Kelly Gang
The lonesome orange dunes of time look fondly on the solitary man who is seen by some as a criminal and others as a hero, and by and by, no matter who is right and who is wrong, a life must continue, and old mistakes and things said in the passion of the moment must be forgiven, I hope, because, I still love you actually, and I wish that in time you will begin to forgive me for all the fucked-up stuff I did, and to see that I've always wanted what's best for you and the kids, and I want you to have the apartment and my new Jeep, which I shouldn't have bought anyway, and you're right, I don't think the kids should see me for a while, because you're right, they are scared of me, and it's best I stay a way during this hard time, when, for once, I should be focusing on just getting my shit together.

Lee Henderson is out looking for Luba. All the wrong places.

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