Between The Covers: 20/11/2011

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

The author William Boyd's alter ego, the 20th-century American abstract expressionist Nat Tate, made his debut on the international auction stage this week.

The work, "Bridge No 114", is from Tate's – or should that be Boyd's – series of pen and ink studies inspired by the Hart Crane poem "The Bridge" and was sold to benefit the Artists General Benevolent Institution. The miniature masterpiece is part-formed by the artist's – or should that be writer's – fingerprints.

A see-saw phone bidding war between two zealous collectors increased the tension until the hammer finally came down on the winning bid of £7,250: more than doubling the pre-sale low estimate. "I'm thrilled," said a proud Boyd. So would he be offering up more Tates for the auction block? "Definitely not! It will be a while before we see another." For a novelist preoccupied with the nebulous notion of identity, it seems apt that nothing is known about the anonymous buyer. Except perhaps who their favourite author is.

***

While the Occupy Wall Street protest was graced by authors including Jennifer Egan and Jonathan Lethem, the British equivalent at St Paul's was short on authorial support – perhaps because all our authors were busy campaigning to save the libraries and didn't have time to nip out to fight about the banks. However, according to The Bookseller's Nicholas Clee, Pete May did stop by to leave a copy of his memoir There's a Hippo In My Cistern (below, top) in the Tent City Starbooks library. He made the donation "as a victim of capitalism, like most other authors", he said.

***

Here at Between the Covers, we join a number of book geeks in our addiction to Book Drum's new global map of literary stars and scenes at .bookdrum.com/maps. If you're looking for novels set in Algeria, or want to know what happens in Brideshead Revisited when Charles goes to Fez, have a look. You can also update the world map with your own favourite books.

***

Do you often feel like your life is a Mills & Boon novel? No? Nor us, but soon it could be thanks to a romantic new competition launched by the publisher. Mills & Boon has teamed up with the forces' charity Help For Heroes to produce a new book (left) of romantic, military short stories, from which £1 per copy will be donated to support men and women wounded in action. "Loving Our Heroes", the story by Amy Andrews, stars an army medic; Jessica Hart's is based on her time living with four ex-Army men on an expedition in West Africa (some authors get all the luck); and India Grey's was inspired by a friend who is a fighter pilot. Not only this, but now Mills & Boon is offering readers the opportunity to star in their own story. "If you are the military's most romantic couple or if you have a soldier who makes you swoon," they say, "you could be in with a chance of winning this money-cannot-buy competition. Author Sharon Kendrick will immortalise your story and you and your partner will get to take part in a traditional Mills & Boon style photo shoot at a London studio." All you must do is email millsandboon@midaspr.co.uk telling them the most romantic thing your military hero (or presumably heroine – this is the 21st century so even Mills & Boon ladies can be soldiers, now) in no more than 100 words, and include your contact details. The competition closes on 2 December, so seize the moment and a happy ending could soon be yours.

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