A week in books
Saturday 15 February 1997
Back in reality, publication day is a crossing-the-Equator sort of event which, in the absence of all evidence, must be taken on trust. When hardback precedes paperback, gratified friends inform you that, though they've looked for the novel everywhere, they haven't seen a single copy in the bookshops. At such times, novelists frequently experience atavistic desires for a visible token of their state. An "I've Had A Novel Published" badge, perhaps, like the one that once said "I Am Five."
Only the chosen few get to pontificate to Melvyn Bragg. More likely is a spot on Radio Burgess Hill - "late nite music and chat to take us into Monday morning" - as the DJ asks questions inspired by a press-release. Or maybe, several weeks after the event, a "Carshalton Girl Is On The Cover" article appears in the local paper, playing up the parochial aspect at the expense of all other angles. There is a signing session, perhaps, at a small bookshop in a nearby town - two hours, with a coffee and Rich Tea at a table unwisely placed in the way of the Romance shelf. Passing customers occasionally remark that they have a wonderful idea for a novel themselves, which they'd put on paper if only they had the time. Your father drops in and buys a copy. So does your sister. You sign them.
A review still eludes. Those same friends who couldn't find the novel in the shops learn that the slating they so profoundly hoped you wouldn't get would still have been very much better than nothing at all. Eventually, a photocopied inch from the Oldham Evening Chronicle arrives from the press office, along with reassurances that the Chronicle has a sizeable circulation and is well thought of by those in the know. And the contents? Rapture and devastation are both equally inappropriate. In the manner of a horoscope, the review could apply to almost any novel written in the later 20th century. Except for one, terrible adjective. Which rankles.
An aunt phones to say that your book is going down a bomb at the library on the Isle of Skye.
Catherine Feeny's novel 'Musical Chairs' is published in paperback by Sceptre next week
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling