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
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 3 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
Great British Bake Off 2014: Diana Beard quits after falling ill
Great British Bake Off 2014: Ofcom receives 13 complaints about Baked Alaska episode
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
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