Books: Cover Stories

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
THIS WEEK, Ken Livingstone signed a deal to write a book that will form part of his manifesto for mayor of London. Livingstone's London will reflect on the city from the perspective of one who has lived there all his life. Publishers Gollancz are no longer the left-wing firebrands that once they were, although they do publish Michael Foot. If Lord Archer plans anything similar, he will doubtless take it to the publishing arm of Conservative Central Office - aka HarperCollins.


AFTER HEFFERS, another well-known name is set to disappear from the high street. Waterstone's has announced that, since research has shown that the Dillons brand lacks "a consistent and clear" personality, the 34 Dillons stores will either become Waterstone's or, where the two compete, shut down. The move represents a volte face for, when Waterstone's was bought by EMI 18 months ago, the management pledged to develop it and Dillons as two distinct brands. While many Dillons branches lacked lustre, there is widespread dismay that the flagship Gower Street branch (trading since 1936) will also be renamed. Hatchards, part of the Dillons purchase, will surely be unnerved, for the shop's Piccadilly lease has but a couple of years to run. With the giant new Waterstone's at Simpson's up and running by then, will Waterstone's parent HMV Media want a renewal?


NOT SO long ago, a test of a good dictionary was to see what it said under the entry for "fuck". These days, whole books are devoted to the word. Among Faber's autumn highlights is The F-Word, "a complete history" with "page after page" of real examples. Then there's Cassell's Big Book of Filth, with "over 2500 sex words and expressions" - "the ideal bedside companion for the lexically incorrect"; a guided tour of the "lascivious fertility of the popular imagination in matters of sexual nomenclature". The lexically challenged may well think "nomenclature" something dodgy about which they should see the quack.