And now, at long last... The Booker Nominees.
The stories are appraised in reverse order (not that there's much to choose between them).
 

Atonement - Ian McEwan
Early favourite. About a little girl who becomes an author. Sentimental drivel about a novelist and her angst, covering about a century of life in a patchy way that's usually reserved for bad BBC dramas. Which is of course what this book is destined to become. God help us.
 

True History of the Kelly Gang - Peter Carey
Not true at all. Complete fiction. But don't let that sway you. The Kelly Gang were a collective of Australian outlaws that went around wearing iron helmets and driving suped up cars at a time when petrol was a highly prized commodity guarded over by warlords. The gang had issues with Weetabix too. This completely tosh account of their antics is school boy stuff indeed. Expect it to be made into a CBBC drama serial.
 

Number 9 Dream - David Mitchell
Rule number one: never name a book after a Beatles song. Rule number two: never name a book after a John Lennon song. Oh dear. Good thing I made those rules up just now. David Mitchell's childish fantasy is the tall tale of a young boy who claims that when he is asleep he sees through the eyes of Yoko Ono. The book has courted controversy, with Ono currently organising legal action. This controversy itself will sell copies by the skip-load, but is the story any good? Well some of the treatment is entertaining, and the way the central character deals with his crippling condition and those who deny it is fascinating, but on the whole the plotting and devious schemes hinted at in the nightmares seem a little derivative of the rumoured events that surround the saga of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.
 

Hotel World - Ali Smith
Virtual reality fantasies don't come much more mundane than this. Set in a future where bored business executives strap themselves into cyber-suits and wander round the seedy virtual Hotel Correo in search of both real and computer created guests. When they meet these guests they share common interests: occasionally philately,  but mainly sordid and depraved sex acts. The story centres around one stamp-collector (and jaded post office manager), Mark, who contracts a sexually transmitted computer virus from a mysterious woman called (rather appallingly) Penny Black.  He and a colleague called (don't vomit) Frank try to find the mysterious woman in a world where real and imaginary are hard to separate. To spare you the effort of reading it, Penny turns out to have been Frank all along. There's another tedious twist but it's even worse so I'll spare you.
 

Oxygen - Andrew Miller
Deep beneath the sea, a collective of super-intelligent whales hatch plans for world domination. What follows is an elaborate and well thought out novel documenting the ensuing power struggles and eventual species v species war that follows. Epic, but essentially allegorical and all too often dead dull. Many have summed this up as hippy shit, and it is. Not that there's anything particularly wrong with that. But so many books have told the same story time and time again (albeit not with whales). Novel, but tiresome.
 

The Dark Room - Rachel Seiffert
Oh dear. Two Lennon related novels have been nominated. This one asks the question: "What if John Lennon were actually Vladimir Lenin?" It's a strange question to ask, based almost entirely on a simple pun. But somehow Seiffert actually comes up moderately good with her fictional biography of this mysterious Russian revolutionary, from his birth in the busy port of Odessa, to his assassination on the steps of his New York home some forty years later, via his antics as Communist leader of the USSR with fellow Marxists Ringo Starski, Georg Trotski, and Josef Stalin. Alternating between bizarre, whimsical and dreadful this is a book you'll either moderately enjoy or hate with a passion. Some knowledge of the Beatles and early twentieth century Russian politics required.

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