A week in books - Books - Arts and Entertainment - The Independent

A week in books

Publishing hype has led to the mistaken belief that having your novel hit the shelves is, inevitably, a glitzy experience. Acquaintances angle for invites to the launch party, secure in the conviction that fish- eggs, fizz and gathered media are as automatic for novels by unknowns as they are for comedians, politicians and supermodels. Reviews are, ditto, considered an inevitable consequence. Imagination paints a dinner-jacketed, black-frocked rush to the news-stands; life thereafter, a corpulent round of interviews. It's a Broadway Melody scenario that has little resemblance to reality.

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 and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
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Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
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Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
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Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

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Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
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Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

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Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

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Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

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Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

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U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
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Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

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Top hat: Pharrell Williams

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Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

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David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
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Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

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Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

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Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

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Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

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To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
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Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

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Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

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Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

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Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

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