Between The Covers: 13/02/2011
Your weekly guide to what's really going on in the world of books
Sunday 13 February 2011
Responses to last week's announcement of a new, Man Booker "Best of Beryl" Prize have met with various responses: from "At last, finally an honour for the perennial Booker bridesmaid..." to "It's not much use to her now she's dead."
Ms Bainbridge was shortlisted for the prize a record five times, you see, but none of her novels ever won. Now, readers can log on to www.themanbookerprize.com/news/vote and choose the best of her five shortlisted novels. (Maybe the Booker's god-like director, Ion Trewin, knows how to get £50,000 worth of prize money to her, wherever she is.) Beryl butched out her Prize rejection, and could be relied upon to be at all the Booker parties, often with her friend and partner in crime, Bernice Rubens. Someone from Between the Covers once watched a ditzy young gossip columnist prance up to the pair and, on learning that they were writers, suggest that maybe they too might win a little prize one of these days. They cackled, but kindly didn't mention that Rubens won the second ever Booker Prize for her fourth novel, The Elected Member, in 1970. The redoubtable and much-missed Ms Bainbridge probably realised that, even if she had won the Booker, there was no guarantee that anyone would have remembered.
With sales of books suffering as recession bites, it is inspiring to note an upswing at the magnificent secondhand and rare books shop, Halcyon Books, in Greenwich. The current sale there offers many books at £1 each, and they're being snapped up. It is, admittedly, a touch less gratifying to learn that the sale is attracting swarms of interior designers, who are buying literature by the metre. You can see the attraction if you look at fancy bookshops such as classicbindings.net, which offers antique, leather-bound "library sets" at £1,660 per metre, or individual books, including John William Hiort's A Practical Treatise on the Construction of Chimneys (1826) for £2,000. Still, Halcyon might be the better bet, even if you're looking for a book to actually read.
A frightening insight into the mind of a debut author from Nigel Fletcher, whose entertaining and immaculately researched How to be in Opposition (Total Politics, £14.99) is published this week. His Facebook statuses over the course of one hour last week read: "[I'm] currently storming up the charts at number 80 in the Amazon 'Political Structures and Processes' bestseller list. Rock 'n' roll ... Down from number 61 an hour ago, mind. People are so fickle ... Spoke too soon – gone back up to #27. Not that I'm remotely obsessed, oh no ... I'm currently two places above Cicero, and four above Walter Bagehot. But to be fair to them, they are both dead ...." It begins to seem that those authors were lucky to be spared such torment.
Could this be the new ubiquitous literary genre for 2012? Simon & Schuster has just announced its acquisition of a new series of children's novels "written by a very successful children's author under the pseudonym Amber Castle". The books, aimed at girls aged seven to nine, are based on Arthurian legend, and follow the young Guinevere "as she embarks on a quest to protect the enchanted island of Avalon from the evil sorceress Morgana la Fey". The series will be launched in March 2012, and seems quite likely to spawn a rush of inferior imitations. Here at Between the Covers, we don't care – just give us an end to all the teen vampire books, please.
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
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman 'suffocates newborn baby in plastic bag and puts it in her desk minutes after giving birth'
- 2 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove