|Who's Afraid of the Booker Prize?|
On the face of it, Wye is so much wiser than the cultured prigs he serves, albeit equivocally. He is shrewd and thinks tactically. His antagonist and boss Zob is but the illusion of cultured liberalism. Underneath the pretence he is uncomfortably aware that this is all a veneer, a mere marketing ploy, though it does have the benefit of stroking his sexual appetites. His one-time tutor and advocate, Dr Andrew Glaze, is deluded enough to have given his protégé the gloss of literary kudos. A series of letters that has passed between them is the monetary yardstick of their relationship, Zob deciding to flog off that material into the marketplace once his mentor has had the decency to shuffle off his coil. Wye couldn’t care much about that, and continues to dream his dreams of getaway, of high-performance cars and speedy escape.
He knows how the farce he is put upon to oversee will end. Yet he floats, amused, at a level somewhere above its ‘social decay’, a phenomenon he is closely witness to. His reflections are the satirist’s, skewed and unsentimental. The only feminists he ever seems to have encountered are career-minded solipsists (bar one, who, in a theatrical sense, is an angel). Speed and technology and contempt for the literati are the holy triad in the only art movement he is able to tolerate. The women are whorish (bar one, who, in a theatrical sense, etc.), but it’s the men who lose face or in one case have the decency to die. They are defeated, and their defeat is devoid of meaning. Now all Wye has to do is chronicle their fall in his diary, a sardonic narrative scrupulously attended to, and one expertly infolded into the letters and postcards he is tasked to catalogue, those missives penned by the faceless Zob and the dead Andrew Glaze.
It’s all a sad exercise in intellectual dishonesty and the mania for celebrity, and, depressingly, is most probably an accurate reflection of the life and writing times of a little place called London.
Sophie Fitzpatrick is a translator from Sydney, Australia, currently working in Singapore. She has an ancestral interest in Scottish independence.