Between the Covers 14/05/2013
Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books
Saturday 13 April 2013
One of the greatest living Scotsmen, Alasdair Gray, is writing a new book for Canongate laying out his "vision for an independent Scotland".
He says that the book, which will be published next summer well before the referendum, will describe "the situation in Scotland we have at the moment, the situation we will have when we get more independence, what is wrong with the current situation and what is hopeful about it". Last year, Gray wrote a controversial essay which complained about the appointments of so many English figures to senior positions in the Scottish arts, but he offers a get-out clause to people who do not have such deeply held beliefs. "I've nothing against people who regard themselves as apolitical or unpolitical," he told The Scotsman. "In the Greek democracy such people were called idiots, that is people without ideas about how they should be ruled …. There are people who think 'I don't know how things are going. I don't think anything I say matters, and therefore I'm not going to vote or take part in any debate.' That seems to me quite sensible, if you really are an idiot, that is, one without ideas."
One wonders what Gray would make of the latest move by Amazon, which seems to have plenty of ideas so it, at least, can't be called idiotic (though it can and has been called much else). Last week, the internet giant caved in to demands to publish a book in Cornish which it had been refusing to publish on its Kindle Direct platform. However, it is still refusing to support Welsh-language books. "With books available in languages such as Galician, Catalan and Basque the situation does seem bizarre," the managing director of the Welsh publisher Y Lolfa told walesonline.co.uk.
As Margaret Thatcher has just reminded us, there's nothing like dying to really boost the sales of your back catalogue. Following his moving announcement that he has been diagnosed with terminal gall bladder cancer, Iain Banks has also seen a sales spike, with copies of all his books shifting 40 per cent more than usual according to The Bookseller. Thatcher may have done slightly more for the high street with a week-on-week sales increase of 860 per cent for the second volume of her memoir Path to Power, but news of Banks's illness met with a much more sympathetic response. Banks's brilliant novel The Wasp Factory has one of the most gripping openings in modern literature: "I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped. I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me." Thatcher's The Downing Street Years begins: "'Ayes, 311. Noes, 310.' Even before the figures were announced by the tellers, we on the Opposition benches knew that Jim Callaghan's Labour government had lost its motion of confidence and would have to call a general election."
Charles Moore's official biography of the Great British icon Margaret Thatcher will finally be released on 23 April, which happens to be St George's Day and Shakespeare's birthday. How odd that the title uses the American spelling: "The Authorized Biography".
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
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Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 David Cameron refers to 83-year-old Labour MP Dennis Skinner as 'Jurassic Park'
- 2 iPhone 7 (or iPhone 6S) leaked pictures show similarities to older model — but Apple is fixing the biggest issue of all
- 3 Russell Brand condemns moment of silence for Tunisia attack victims as 'minute of bulls**t'
- 4 'Help me I'm trapped in a factory' messages keep being found on bottles of vitamin water
- 5 Alwaleed bin Talal: Saudi Prince to donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
Game of Thrones season 6: Daenerys actress Emilia Clarke says '50/50 chance' Jon Snow is alive
Amy, film review: Beautiful film reveals ugly truth behind singer's downward spiral
'Dukes of Hazzard' pulled from screens by CBS as outcry over Confederate flag grows
London Has Fallen trailer release branded 'extremely insensitive' ahead of 10th anniversary of 7/7 bombings
What if Nicolas Cage played every character in Game of Thrones?
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert