A new decade; the radio played the songs we made. Well, it didn’t really. I still wasn’t born. But if you are Cliff Richard, or Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin is a person? Yes?) then maybe it was laying the songs you made. Maybe it was. The charts were a simpler thing then. This was in the days before everyone had to squeeze a reference to Mick Jagger into their lyrics because so few things rhyme with swagger and YOU HAVE TO MENTION THE WORD SWAGGER IN A POP SONG IF YOU DON’T IT IS NOT A POP SONG IT IS CLASSICAL LOLLOL SMILEY FACE LOL FACE LOLLOLLOLSWAGGERLOLBIEBERLOL
The Booker was still small potatoes in 1970. It would will be a few years before it started to move toward its place at the forefront of literary prize culture in the UK. You are forgiven then, for not having read much on the shortlist. I can almost guarantee that even the most book-obsessed of you will not have read them all. That is because Terence Wheeler’s (who?) novel The Conjunction is not in print, has seemingly never been released in paperback, and currently goes for $2000 on Amazon.com.
It is a strange thing to think that a book could cost $2000. Most writers I know would come round to your house, tuck you up in bed, and read you their novel for less than $2000. One or two would probably even do ‘extras’ for another few dollars (though I am too much of a gentleman to name names). The trick is to ask, “has this story got a happy ending?” with a meaningful stare and a nod toward an open wallet. We all know what that means, but most of us will pretend we don’t.
I have gone off on a tangent here haven’t I? The shortlist for 1970 was:
- A.L. Barker – John Brown’s Body
- Elizabeth Bowen – Eva Trout
- Iris Murdoch – Bruno’s Dream
- Bernice Rubens – The Elected Member
- William Trevor – Mrs Eckdorf in O’Niell’s Hotel
- Terence Wheeler – The Conjunction