Thursday, May 2, 2013

An Author a Day for Thirty Days: Day 2

Hilary Mantel
 Here's some craziness. We've never highlighted an author who's won the Booker Prize twice. I blame Gianna, of course. I should not always have to be the respectable one around here. It's like, "put the People Magazine down every now and then," you know? Sigh. I'm exhausted.

Actually, I don't know how it is that we've overlooked Hilary Mantel this long. She's our kind of author, by which we mean that she was unapologetic after saying that Kate Middleton is "a shop window mannequin" whose only purpose is to breed. If you're going to say something that'll agitate people, say it loudly and publicly.

Hilary Mantel is best known for her books about Tudor England, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, both of which have won the Booker Prize. I first discovered her, though, for another novel, Beyond Black. I loved it. The main characters are Alison and Colette. Alison is a psychic touring the various mysticism fairs in English cities, putting on a show for the tourists. She's a large woman who's plagued by the spirits communicating with her, and she's an opportunist looking to improve her lot. Colette is a mousy, unemployed event planner who accepts a job as Alison's assistant. She acts as a buffer between Alison and the hangers on stalking the psychics. This is a novel that is dark, comic, strange, and gritty in an industrial England sort of way. This is not a glamorous world of psychic revelation; it's a world of dirty laundry and banality and an annoying spirit named Morris. It's also proof that Hilary Mantel can write about almost anything and make it engaging.

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