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Between the Covers 18/08/2013

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

Graphic novels have finally achieved the recognition they deserve. At least, they have at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where two of the world's greatest graphic novelists were united for the first time on stage. Chris Ware and Joe Sacco appeared in a joint event on Wednesday night, where they discussed the joys of uniting words with images. "It was a big coup for us," enthuses a festival spokesman. "This is the first year graphic novels have had such a big billing. We have 40 events dedicated to them."


Patrick Hennessey, the former soldier and author, topped a list of the 21 hottest male barristers last month, being dubbed "Prince Harry but with brains". Now, Natalia Naish and Sonia van Gilder Cooke have compiled a list of the top 21 women barristers, which includes Justine Thornton, wife of the Labour leader Ed Miliband. This has attracted even more controversy because some women barristers feel they have been judged quite enough by their looks rather than their brains in the past. Still, the organisers of the Edinburgh Book Festival are clearly in tacit agreement with the verdict on Hennessey: a big picture of him is prominently displayed in the programme. This honour is not accorded to bigger literary names such as Alexander McCall Smith or Ian Rankin. Can't think why.


Jonathan Coe describes his latest novel, Expo 58, as a "John Le Carré meets Evelyn Waugh" comic novel, which is set at the Brussels World Fair of 1958. Though it isn't due to be published until next month, Coe managed to smuggle 100 advance copies to flog at his talk at the Edinburgh Book Festival on Thursday. Not surprisingly, they went like Scotch pancakes. But what will Viking have to say if the plot gets leaked?


Fence Records, the Fife-based label that launched the career of K T Tunstall, was rumoured to have closed down on Wednesday, after one of the partners, Johnny Lynch, issued a statement saying he was closing it down to start a new venture. This is one chapter of Fence's 20-year history that won't have made it into Songs In The Key of Fife, a book about the Fife music scene by Vic Galloway of Radio Scotland. Happily, it seems the label may live to see another day because one of the other members insists he will keep it going. Kenny Anderson, who performs as King Creosote, insists: "Fence is alive and well", and will be relaunched in January. Lynch, meanwhile, has gone to live in a caravan on the Isle of Eigg. Galloway will be talking about Fence at the Edinburgh Book Festival on Tuesday, so no doubt he can tell us what's really going on.


Jenny Eclair wasn't going to be bossed about by photographers at the Edinburgh Book Festival. "You can only picture this side, my good side," she bellowed. "The bad side is atrocious." Could she point, they asked? "No, I don't do pointing. Pointing is rude." But possibly not quite as rude as saying "It's like having anal sex on a first date", as the whole festival could hear her yell.