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Being short-listed for the Man Booker prize is akin to being labelled Art Film in the cinematic world. The great unwashed avoid it in their droves whilst those who write for high brow broadsheet publications sing its praises.
It's an experience reminiscent of the classis fairy tale The Emperors New Clothes. Do you say what you really think and risk being ridiculed and labelled as stupid for all eternity for missing some clearly obvious point or do you admit that its incomprehensible drivel spouted by someone with a penchant for big words but not much talent when it comes to story writing not that anyone dare admit this for fear of missing the point.
Perhaps it's the publishing worlds way of saying guys we've backed a turkey but since its made it into print I have a cunning plan for bumping up sales. Consider the past five years winners John Banville, Kiran Desai, Anne Enright, Aravind Adiga and Hilary Mantel they're not exactly household names.
It was therefore with a sense of foreboding that I set about tackling Ali Smiths The Accidental which was shortlisted in 2005.
Set in the rented Norfolk holiday home of the dysfunctional Smart family where Eve (mother of one) attempts to write her eighth best seller in the seclusion of a dilapidated garden shed whilst wondering if the stranger who has come to stay is yet another of her husbands floozies. Meanwhile Dr Michael Smart (Eves second husband) is wondering just how long the journalist who's come to interview his wife will be staying. The fact that this person turned up out of the blue and is now camped out on their driveway doesn't seem to be any cause for concern at least not to the adults. The teenagers are mildly more wary, that's when they have time away from their self absorbed lives to notice. Astrid clearly suffers from several obsessive compulsive disorders whilst Magnus is tortured by the secret knowledge that he alone was responsible for setting in place a chain of events which resulted in the suicide of another.
So the plot thickens or at least it would if there was one. This is a non-story which isn't helped by the discovery at some stage that one of the key characters doesn't exist which just adds to the confusion. Paragraphs seem to drag on for an eternity whilst disjointed sentences scatter each and every page.
I can only conclude that I am either too stupid to have understood the authors sheer genius or bright enough to be able to admit that it was truly awful. Either way I won't be reading this again or recommending that anyone else does either. If it were possible to give zero stars then this would be worthy as it is I have to give it one star purely because there's no other way to save someone else wasting their time and money.