Readers of this blog know that J.G. shoulders almost all of its upkeep. But every now and then -- particularly on this one day each year -- I poke my head above ground like some Punxsutawney Phil.
Today is my Christmas, the day on which the five finalists for the National Book Award for fiction are revealed. As tradition dictates, I immediately run out and buy every book on the list, begin reading them one by one, and attempt to predict the annual winner before it is announced one month later. My success rate isn't too shabby. I've nailed four of the past five ("Echo House" in 2006 tripped me up).
With that said, here are this year's five finalists:
-- "Parrot and Olivier in America" by Peter Carey
-- "I Hotel" by Karen Tei Yamashita
-- "Lord of Misrule" by Jaimy Gordon
-- "So Much for That" by Lionel Shriver
-- "Great House" by Nicole Krauss
Great House I rounded up quickly. It was in stock at my local Barnes & Noble. But the others are proving a bit more difficult to track down. "Parrot," which was also short-listed for the Man Booker Prize but fell short of the ultimate title, is at a bookstore 25 miles south of my home, but nowhere else within a 200-mile radius. I had them hold it for me. Same with "So Much for That," only it is being held for me at a bookstore 20 miles to the north. I plan on picking up both of them tonight.
"I Hotel" is nowhere to be found in the general vicinity and had to be ordered over the internet. That leaves "Lord of Misrule," which is nowhere to be found anywhere in the country. That's because it hasn't yet been released. But I made a pre-order request and hope to receive it in time.
In all, the five books total 2,296 pages. It's a race against time. I'll have nose buried for the next month, after which I'll re-surface to make my annual prediction.
In the meantime, as usual, J.G. is all yours.