Booker Chat, Bets, & Latin Errors

A beautiful book and a safe choice.

The safe bet:  a stunning lyrical short novel

At our house we are reading the Man Booker Prize longlist. Not the whole list! Leave that to those who aren’t also finishing a huge book by Mr. Trollope.   But we have a stack of  Booker-longlisted  books, plucked from the library shelves with absolutely no waiting list, proving that no one in “X,” Iowa,  is overly excited about the finalists.

Hystopia David Means 51sgTORYDGL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

The risky bet: a stunning alternate history

I loved Elizabeth Strout’s My Name Is Lucy Barton, a lyrical novel about a difficult mother-daughter relationship. This is a shoo-in if the judges are looking for a brilliant slender book along the lines of  Julian Barnes’ The Send of an Ending. I am equally thrilled with David Mean’s Hystopia, a  psychedelic alternate history of the ’60s about the effect of the Vietnam War on Americans, but it would be riskier:  it’s much more structurally complex, post-modern, experimental, outrageous, and, to be honest, it’s SF, so this would be a first for the Booker.

My husband has begun to weigh in on his reading.  He says of Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen, “It’s a first person letdown.”

the-sellout-51vbrqyhpzlHe is currently reading Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, and is reserving judgment. Unfortunately, he has found Latin errors.  Yup, my husband and I met in an “Age of Cicero” class, went to grad school together, and taught Latin.  And these errors ARE the editor’s fault, because Latin is complicated, endings on adjectives depend on the gender, number, and case of the noun, but, for heaven’s sake,  my husband and I aren’t the only classicists who see these at a glance.  (Or are we?)  Anyway, Mr. Beatty  writes some very nonsensical Latin, and here he can’t get the adjectives to agree with the nouns. (The errors are in bold print.

unum corpus, una mens, una cor, unum amor  (translation: “one body, one mind, one heart, one love”)

The correct version is:

unum corpus, una mens, unum cor, unus amor

The mistakes occur in the third and fourth pairs:  cor (“heart”) is a neuter singular nominative noun, so the adjective should end in  -um. Amor (love) is a masculine singular nominative noun, so the ending is -us.

Do you want to read blogs by dedicated Booker fans?  Nonsuch Books is reading the entire longlist with four other bloggers:  you can read this post to find the links to the other blogs.  (By the way, she is a huge fan of Paul Beatty’s book, so not all of us are worried about the Latin.)