Between The Covers: 18/09/2011

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

Fans of double Booker winner Peter Carey will be delighted to learn that he has a new novel scheduled for April 2012, the first to be set in London since 1997's Jack Maggs. The Chemistry of Tears opens in 2010, with a museum conservator, Catherine Gehrig, grieving for her married lover as she restores a rare 19th-century automaton. When she finds a series of handwritten notebooks, she discovers that the machine was commissioned by an Englishman who travelled to Germany in the 1850s looking for a "magical amusement" for his consumptive son. Faber's senior editor Angus Cargill describes the novel as "classic Peter Carey, a superbly worked twin narrative, which more than lives up to its beautiful title as it follows the stories of these two characters, from different times, as they are forced to confront the mysteries of life and death."

A rather different book about the perils of modern womanhood will be published in October next year by Hodder and Stoughton. Is it Just Me?, by the comedian Miranda Hart, will look at the "pitfalls and horrors of growing up", with Hart offering advice to her younger self. The book will take in "resisting unforgivable fashion choices, learning how to identify the distressing new epidemic of extreme motherhood, knowing what not to do when on a date, or lamenting the fact that getting past midnight at a social event has become distressing at 38". Its publication will coincide with a new series of her sitcom, and we predict official National Treasure status by Christmas.

The Society of Authors Short Story Tweetathon started on Wednesday with a cliff-hanger first line tweeted by Ian Rankin: "I woke up on the floor of a strange bedroom, clutching a single bullet in my right hand. I couldn't see any sign of a gun." The weekly Tweetathon began as a protest against cuts to short story budgets at the BBC – most recently with the news that short story slots on Radio 4 have declined from six to two per week to accommodate the extended World at One. "I got my real start with short stories on R4," says Rankin. "I would hate for future generations of writers not to have the same chance." Each Wednesday, famous authors (including Simon Brett, Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris and Sarah Waters) will take turns to tweet the first line of a story at 11am. Twitterers then have half an hour to add a next line (in no more than 140 characters, including the hashtag #soatale), whereupon all the entries will be evaluated by a guest judge and one chosen and posted on the hour. The very short short story will be completed and posted on SoA's website at 4pm, when five new lines have been added. Could members of the publishing profession be getting involved, though? Adding to the mystery on Wednesday was a suggested second line reading: "Then I remembered, my editor warned he'd send me a bullet every time I used double spacing."

In a brilliant new idea that could only be the work of a complete genius, Amazon is launching a "Click and Collect" scheme so that customers can buy a book online then collect it from a locker at a nearby shopping centre. After early success at 7-Eleven stores in the US, the scheme will tried in London, as a service to those who are not at home to receive daytime parcels. Those who are maddeningly resistant to such hi-tech, 21st-century, smartypants innovations could just visit a local bookshop and ... well, buy a book.