Books: Cover Stories

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The Independent Culture
THERE WASN'T a dry eye in the house when, 10 years ago, the Whitbread Book of the Year was won by Christy Nolan for his memoir Under the Eye of the Clock. Now in his mid-30s, Nolan - mute and paralysed since birth, and who writes, a letter at a time, with a unicorn stick - has written a novel, The Banyan Tree. His agent Giles Gordon describes it as a mix of Joyce, McGahern, O'Connor, Banville and all those other great Irish voices. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, who published his first book, snapped it up eagerly and the novel is expected to be the talk of Frankfurt early next month.

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THERE AREN'T too many singers who can claim to have wowed the bobbysoxers and gigged at Glastonbury. Indeed, the New York Times suggested that Tony Bennett "has not just bridged the generation gap - he has demolished it". All of which suggests that his autobiography, The Good Life, will be a Christmas bestseller. Publication by Simon & Schuster is scheduled for mid-November and will coincide with the release of a CD marking his 50th anniversary in showbusiness.

AS THE Reader's Digest Association attempts desperately to attract readers, it is raising cash by selling off some of the 8,000 canvases bought by founders De Witt and Lila Acherson Wallace. The couple endowed a wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art but the bulk of their patronage is on display at the company's HQ in New York State. The paintings, shortly to be sold at Sotheby's in New York, include works by Monet, Chagall and Van Gogh.

PRINCE CHARLES heads towards his 50th birthday and the publication of yet another version of Anthony Holden's biography, together with a new, official, account of his life by James Morton. Sneaking up on the outside, not in HarperCollins's catalogue, is an updated study by one of the Prince's chief apologists, Penny Junor. The publishers are claiming it is "explosive," not a word that one would normally see appended to anything by Miss J. Meanwhile, Will Carling's autobiography, due from Hodder, promises to "lay bare all the speculation about his private life and his friendship with Diana, Princess of Wales".

AS THE fight for book-buyers' wallets intensifies, the ante has ben upped again with the news that US giant Barnes & Noble has been eyeing up the Simpson building in Piccadilly. The store's closure has already been announced and the owners are looking for bids. Simpson's will close its doors in March on one of London's prime retail sites.

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