Between the covers: 10/02/2013

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

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The Independent Culture

* Bad news for bookworms! New adverts for the relationship website eHarmony seem to advise against dating us. Between the Covers spotted an ad on the London Underground, featuring pictures of a handsome man and a series of "dead-end dates" that he ought to avoid. Among them are "clinger", "highly strung", "too-tuff" and, err, "bookworm". Between the Covers has filled in an inquiry form on the eHarmony website and was promised a response, "if you are a qualified member of the press", but so far an explanation has not been forthcoming. In the meantime, Between the Covers would like to stress that bookworms really make for excellent dates, and even better relationships.


Congratulations to Damian Barr, who read from his forthcoming memoir on Wednesday at the Shoreditch House Literary Salon, the gin-fuelled bookish event which he has hosted for four years. Barr swapped stools to be interviewed by Rowan Pelling about Maggie & Me (Bloomsbury, £14.99, 9 May), which describes growing up gay in Thatcher's Britain. Coincidentally, the book had its first public reading the day after a Conservative-led government mostly voted against, but failed to prevent, the Second Reading of a Bill to allow gay people to marry. At Barr's feet sat Clare Balding and Alice Arnold, who had just announced that morning that they will get married, and Polly Samson and David Gilmour, who already have. "The Damian in this book didn't think this would ever happen," he said. There were tears.


Between the Covers is indebted to a number of women bloggers for their humorous responses to The Bell Jar-gate – in which Faber reissued Sylvia Plath's novel with a new, pink cover that some said made it look like derivative chick lit. Suzi Feay suggests repackaging classics by male novelists: "Just put hunky guys on covers of everything with a male protagonist," she tweeted. "Pref with heads cropped out. Or just pics of men's shoes … I can see it now: Ulysses with pic of buff male torso, plus shamrock..." Sam Carelse has gone a step further, by photoshopping just such a cover on her blog, and adding: "The Road, by Cormac McCarthy – a Ferrari … The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James – some breasts … Moby Dick, by Herman Melville …" has a selection of cover ideas, from Dostoyevsky's The Idiot (a clown) to another The Road idea, featuring a pink, cartoon woman pushing a pram. But perhaps the most promising idea comes from Kimono Press, which has suggested republishing The Great Gatsby with a cover image of David Beckham in his pants.


They couldn't be expected to know that, the very next day, someone would do almost that … F Scott Fitzgerald's beautiful novel is the latest to suffer the indignity of being rewritten with an "erotic" slant. "Nick Carraway, a young virgin from Minnesota … steps into [Gatsby's] raunchy, wild mansion …" reads the blurb. The Great Gatsby Unbound, by Fitzgerald and Karena Rose, author of Jane Eyrotica, will be published in April. (Its cover is mercifully restrained.)