Between The Covers: 15/05/2011

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

*A Bond-style mission has faced book reviewers and literary editors trying to get their hands on the new 007 novel, Carte Blanche, written by Jeffery Deaver and endorsed by the Ian Fleming estate.

Now, readers are being offered a chance to join in, with a competition based on Facebook (The name's Bond, James Bond. Interested in: women. Relationship status: it's complicated ...) to win the opportunity to be the first to read the book. Wannabe secret agents must go to to unravel cryptic clues and find details of a secret mission. The winner will be picked up on 25 May, the day before publication, in a Bentley Continental GT – the car driven by Bond in Carte Blanche – and taken to the Lanesborough Hotel in London to read the novel through the night "in luxurious surroundings" before meeting the author in the morning. Now, obviously the real Bond, if he found himself in this situation, would seduce Hodder & Stoughton's PR manager before abseiling out of the window and blabbing the plot to the national press. But so tight is the control over this novel that even he would have difficulty. "Do you expect me to read?" he would ask. "No, Mr Bond," the publisher would answer. "We expect you to die."

*Apparently, the entire crowd at the O2 arena on Thursday evening was giddy with excitement, merely because David Gilmour, the Pink Floyd guitarist, turned up. Salonistas at the Shoreditch House Literary Salon are much cooler, being used to seeing Gilmour as the plus one of his talented, very-exciting wife, the writer Polly Samson. They were at The Secret Hay Preview party on the Shoreditch House roof last Tuesday (though not at Wednesday's launch of Edward St Aubyn's At Last, where numbers had to be made up by Martin Amis and Isabel Fonseca, Ian McEwan and Annalena McAfee, Tracey Emin, Alan Hollinghurst, Francis Wyndham, Antonia Fraser, Bella Freud, Richard E Grant, Craig Brown and Mick Jagger). Samson and Gilmour listened as the novelist India Knight (left) revealed that she secretly wants to write a bonkbuster, but that it's harder than it looks. "I think the time is ripe for it," she told our salonniere, Damian Barr (somebody give that man his own show). "It would be called Flesh, with a proper ripped bodice on the front ...."

*It was at the above, after considerable discussion, that a consensus was finally reached about the past tense of the verb "to tweet". It's "twote", apparently. Thank goodness for writer's block, or we might never have answers to important questions such as these.

*Listen out today for David Baddiel's "Blokey Book Club", the new literary segment on BBC Radio 5 Live's programme, Men's Hour. The club launched last week, and it seems to be doing everything that it can to make a frighteningly pansy subject like reading palatable to butch types and, well, blokes. Last Sunday's kicked off with Baddiel discussing his own novels, before the host interrupted to say: "I'd like to just momentarily switch from the high-minded literary analysis to ask you ... on an ontological level, what on earth happened with Chelsea and Manchester United?" and then there was an interview with Andy McNab. May we direct the honourable gentlemen (and any dishonourable ladies who may be reading) to http://hotguysreadingbooks. Really, fellas, all this butchness is quite unnecessary; real men read books, too, you know.