Books: Cover Stories

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The Independent Culture
WITH BILL Clinton addressing the State of the Union, America's commentators are hard at work addressing the state of his union. Many proposals for books on Hillary are said to be doing the rounds of New York publishers. Last week Carl Bernstein, who came to fame 25 years ago in a rather different presidential scandal, signed with Knopf for a "major biography", inevitably dubbed "All the President's Women". This week, Gail Sheehy contracted with Random House for a study that will concentrate on "Mrs Clinton's marriage and relationship with the President".

MEANWHILE, LUCIANNE Goldberg, the so-called literary agent (she once handled Kitty Kelley - surely a marriage made in heaven), who started it all by wiring up Linda Tripp, has been telling the New York Press that she has "the most boring job in the world", because authors are nothing but "a bunch of cry-babies". She says "I enjoy the scandal book, but publishing isn't that way any more." Really?

TREVOR BAYLIS, the inventor of the clockwork radio who was given an OBE in the New Year Honours, is hard at work on his autobiography for Headline. The former swimming champion and stunt man who aims to bring low-cost technology to the poor corners of the world hopes to set up "an Academy of Invention" in order that good ideas may be turned into successful products.

THE YEAR is not yet a month old and already publishers are rushing to scribble fat cheques. This time the recipient is twenty-something Jenny Colgan, stand-up comic, who's been paid more than pounds 200,000 by HarperCollins for Amanda's Wedding, "a rite of passage novel" which asks why we're so hell-bent on coupledom.

ON TUESDAY, as diners at Whitbread's brewery and TV viewers wait to see if Ted Hughes will win the Whitbread Book of the Year for a second time, the late poet will be celebrated at an evening organised by his friend Graham Fawcett, translator and broadcaster. The event takes place at Pitshanger Manor, Ealing and tickets cost pounds 5 (phone 0181 567 1227). Fawcett hopes those attending will bring a favourite poem and some memories.