Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Apes (of God)

“Chimpanzee's ‘autobiography’ is nominated for the Booker Man Prize” is the Twitter line fed to the hungry media today. As reported by The Guardian, the chimp confesses to a threesome with the actress Marlene Dietrich, claims that the “universally despised, impotent, alcoholic” Rex Harrison tried to murder him and damns Maureen O’Sullivan, who played Jane opposite Weismuller as “a harmless old trout”. I have posted already about the autobiographic genre, so I won't add any other comment than my usual "depressing" tagline. And I feel ashamed that I am talking about this.

“Now I think Me Cheeta" quoth Ion Trewin, "proves that it’s absolutely possible that any novel can get on (the list) if it’s done well enough. You don’t have to write what we used to call serious literary fiction to be considered for this prize.” This is stardust, Ion – if you really said that – absolutely priceless! I couldn't have made this up.

This is groundbreaking, revolutionary fiction from some of the best houses in the country. It's a shame the Man Booker is open only to books written in the last few months, otherwise Verlyn Klinkenborg's delightful Timothy's Book (2007), the autobiography of a turtle who spent some fifty years amongst humans, or Tibor Fischer's hilarious The Collector Collector (1997), the life story of a 5,000-year-old Sumerian bowl, or James Fenimore Cooper's Autobiography of a Pocket Handkerchief (1843) or even – stretching it – Tobias Smollett's History and Adventures of an Atom (1769) could have entered the fray and been plausible contenders.


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