One Inch Wonders: The 2011 Man Booker Longlist

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July 28, 2011 by markstani

Here are the opening paragraphs of the 13 books longlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize. Who’d win the One Inch Booker?

The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes (Jonathan Cape)

I remember, in no particular order:

– a shiny inner wrist;

– steam rising from a wet sink as a hot frying pan is laughingly tossed into it;

-gouts of sperm circling a plughole, before being sluiced down the full length of a tall house;

On Canaan’s Side, Sebastian Barry (Faber)

Bill is gone.

What is the sound of an eighty-nine-year-old heart breaking? It might not be much more than silence, and certainly a small slight sound.

Jamrach’s Menagerie, Carol Birch (Canongate)

I was born twice. First in a wooden room that jutted out over the black water of the Thames, and then again eight years later in the Highway, when the tiger took me in his mouth and everything truly began.

The Sisters Brothers, Patrick DeWitt (Granta)

I was sitting inside the Commodore’s mansion, waiting for my brother Charlie to come out with news of the job. It was threatening to snow and I was cold and for want of something to do I studied Charlie’s new horse, Nimble.

Half Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan (Serpent’s Tail)

Chip told us not to go out. Said, don’t you boys tempt the devil. But it been one brawl of a night, I tell you, all of us still reeling from the rot – rot was cheap, see, the drink of French peasants, but it stayed like nails in you gut.

A Cupboard Full of Coats, Yvette Edwards (Oneworld)

It was early spring when Lemon arrived, while the crocuses in the front garden were flowering and before the daffodil buds had opened, the Friday evening of a long, slow February, and I had expected when I opened the front door to find an energy salesperson standing there, or a charity worker selling badges, or any one of a thousand random insignificant people whose existence meant nothing to me or my world.

The Stranger’s Child, Alan Hollinghurst (Picador)

She’d been lying in the hammock reading poetry for over an hour. It wasn’t easy: she was thinking all the while about George coming back with Cecil, and she kept sliding down, in small half-willing surrenders, till she was in a heap, with the book held tiringly above her face.

Pigeon English, Stephen Kelman (Bloomsbury)

You could see the blood. It was darker than you thought. It was all on the ground outside Chicken Joe’s. It just felt crazy.

The Last Hundred Days, Patrick McGuinness (Seren)

In 1980s Romania, boredom was a state of extremity. There was nothing neutral about it: it strung you out and stretched you; it tugged away at the bottom of your day like shingle scraping at a boat’s hull.

Snowdrops, AD Miller (Atlantic)

I smelled it before I saw it. There was a crowd of people standing around on the pavement and in the road, most of them policemen, some talking on mobile phones, some smoking, some looking, some looking away.

Far To Go, Alison Pick (Headline)

The train will never arrive. It winds into forever: shiny red cars, black cars, cattle cars, one after another. A red caboose and a Princess Elizabeth engine. The livestock cars, loosely linked, like the vertebrae of some long reptile’s spine.

The Testament of Jessie Lamb, Jane Rogers (Sandstone)

Sunday Morning.

The house is very quiet now he’s gone. I get up carefully without falling over and shuffle to the window. The light is partly blocked by gigantic leylandii in next door’s garden. No-one lives in this row any more.

Derby Day, DJ Taylor (Chatto & Windus)

Sky the colour of a fish’s underside; grey smoke diffusing over a thousand house-fronts; a wind moving in from the east: London.

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