Books: Cover Stories

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The Independent Culture
A SURPRISE treat for Stephen King fans. Despite comments that he might not write any more books, the prolific author has taken his publishers by surprise, producing an unscheduled novel to be published in April. "An unexpected pregnancy" is how he has described The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, a story of a little girl lost who listens to baseball games and believes herself a friend of Tom Gordon, in fact as in fiction a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox. Gordon has "blessed" the book and each of the games described actually happened - King is a serious fan. The novel is being rushed through to be on sale before the baseball season opens on 13 April.

PENNY JUNOR, whose recent opus attempted a rehabilitation of Charles by a debunking of Diana (which prompted death threats on her US tour), has another subject in her sights: Sir Elton John, of whom she is no particular fan. She's doubtless planning more muck-raking but, since Elton has pretty much confessed all and fans won't pay good money for warts only, publishers are not too keen. Nor should they be, given the cold shower HarperCollins took on Junor's Charles book.

A GOOD month for Beryl Bainbridge. Following her Author of the Year Award, she has won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Master Georgie. At pounds 3,000, it's not as valuable as the Booker or the Whitbread, but Bainbridge is not known for avarice. Just so long as she has enough to keep her in ciggies.

FOLLOWING MONTHS of accepting the applause on behalf of father Ted, Frieda Hughes this week takes a bow as a poet. Wooroloo, published this week by Bloodaxe Books, inhabits territory familiar to readers of her half-dozen children's books and fans of her paintings. Unsurprisingly, death and abandonment are among the themes explored in a collection that bears the simple dedication "For Daddy with love".

HEINEMANN CLAIMS that True At First Light, the "new" Ernest Hemingway work it will publish in the summer, has only just been discovered. In fact it's been known about for years; but son Patrick decided it should not appear until after the death of Papa's widow Mary, as the semi-fictional journal features a liaison with an African woman. The contract was finally agreed in Paris, at the Ritz, on what turned out to be the morning following Dodi and Diana's last supper.

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