Despite the loss of the skiffy-associated favorite, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas — which I haven’t read — I’m very pleased to hear that the Booker prize went to the novel by Alan Hollinghurst. I haven’t yet read The Line of Beauty either, but I did just happen to read his first novel, The Swimming-Pool Library, a couple months ago, and was sufficiently impressed that I immediately ordered every other book of his I could find — which numbers only two other novels, The Folding Star and The Spell, prior to this new one that came out in Britain a few months ago and in the US just this past month. I ordered the UK editions of them all.
He’s a terrific writer, for reasons that have nothing to do with the current novel’s Thatcher-era social criticism, or the gay-protagonist themes of all his books. I can only explain it by saying that he writes descriptions of characters and incidents that make you aware of things you’ve been witness to without actually having been conscious of. He shows you dimensions within the ordinary that you didn’t suspect existed. It’s exhilarating writing. Michael Dirda reviewed the US edition just 2 or 3 weeks ago — though I can’t seem to find the link just now. When I have more time I’ll find a paragraph to quote.