Between the Covers 06/04/2012

Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books

Aspiring writers will love the new Rejection Letter Generator at http://stoneslidecorrective.com/?page_id=441. The idea is "inspired by psychological research showing that after people experience pain they are less afraid of it in the future" and aims to help "writers take the pain out of rejection". It has several genres of rejection from which writers can select, and which can be emailed to you at the click of a button. We like "The Thumper", "The Doom Stacker" and "The Clammy Hug", but our favourite is "The Body Blow": "Dear Writer, And for your next trick, you'll ... what? Make a human turd turn into an ursine one? No? Create a maggot-vomiting cat? Do tell. We expect wonders. The Editors." How long before real agents start copying and pasting these themselves?

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Congratulations to the Shoreditch House Literary Salon and Damian Barr, its glamorous salonier, who welcomed its 5,000th member last week. This was one of the first in a new generation of literary festival/crossed with book club/crossed with live reading and comedy event – with a free Hendricks gin and a slice of pizza thrown in. "Every time I'm told that books are dead or publishing is over or another Middleton has a six-figure deal," says Barr, "I close my eyes and see all of you looking glamorous and focused on some amazing writer sharing their story and I feel it's all going to be fine. Better than fine."

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Note to publishers: If you're writing to us to big up your new big hope in literary fiction, do not call it "a novel so special and haunting that I believe it is worthy of comparison to some of the very best women novelists at work today". The very best women novelists? But not the men? This is 2012, you know.

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Between the Covers will be first in the queue for the new book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, by Michelle Obama. The UK rights have just been bought by Ebury, and it will be published at the end of May at £22.99. The book will include illustrations of the Obamas and their dog, Bo, as well as advice for growing vegetables, salads and herbs, and recipes, including spring pea salad, white chocolate-cherry-carrot-cookies, and braised pork with butternut squash. It doesn't say so in the blurb, but we're hoping that Michelle will also tell us what to do if our plastic mini greenhouse gets blown over in an English gale and all our tomato seedlings end up jumbled up in a pile of mud. We feel sure that the First Lady would know how to handle it.

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Authors, publishers and booksellers will not thank us for mentioning this, but the new pop-up book exchange at Kingly Court, just off Carnaby Street in London, sounds like a nice idea. Curated by students at the London College of Fashion (that would explain the trendy "pop-up" tag, no doubt), it encourages readers to stop by to read a book in luxurious surroundings, and then take it away, in exchange for leaving another book behind. "The Carnaby Book Exchange will serve as an incubator for a passion shared," they say. Between the Covers heartily endorses the swapping of books, but also encourages the buying of them, too – it's a bit much to expect everybody from author to bookshop to work for free, you know.

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