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".
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Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Game of Thrones season 5: Emilia Clarke praises characters who 'accept their femininity'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate