Between the Covers 24/06/2012

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

Will Young's autobiography Funny Peculiar, which is due from Little, Brown in October, is going to be really quite good, Between the Covers can exclusively reveal. Young threw a pre-launch party for booksellers at Kettner's in Soho on Wednesday (in the room in which Oscar Wilde was once arrested), and read from the book, which he is actually writing himself – almost uniquely among celebrity memoirists. His chapter "Second Row at Burberry", about friendship, fashion and Anna Wintour, is funny and well-written, and Young is keeping up a rigorous daily 4,000 words in order to meet his copy deadline. The idea for the book came to Young while working on the script for an as-yet-uncommissioned comedy drama, he told The IoS, and kept finding himself writing about his own life. "I've been very candid," he promises.

***

Thanks to Hansard for confirming what Between the Covers thought we heard when we listened to Education Questions on Monday. (We don't just read books, you know.) Not only is the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, making primary school children learn and recite poetry – he's also got Tory MPs doing it, too. Kevin Brennan (Labour, Cardiff West) asked: "Why is the Secretary of State having such a chilling effect on teacher morale?" Gove, inset bottom, replied: "As Robert Burns, that great poet, once said, 'facts are chiels that winna ding' ...". Next, John Haynes spoke up: "When I think of the Opposition, I am reminded of Eliot's words: 'Shape without form, shade without colour,/Paralysed force, gesture without motion.'" Finally, Gove wrapped up the debate, saying: "I must be brief because, as Shakespeare [left] said, 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments'." Impressive – let's see more poetry in Parliament, please.

***

Fans of Irvine Welsh should look out for the new single "Another Screen" by Kormac, on which Welsh appears on vocals. Kormac wrote the song – a lament about our screen-focused lives – especially for Welsh, and turned up on his doorstep to ask him to take part. "Rather than take out a restraining order," we're told, "[Welsh] took him in, fed and watered him and sent him home with the track complete." The single is available on iTunes for 99p.

***

Do the results of a new poll by dottybingo.com help to explain the stratospheric success of E L James's 50 Shades of Grey, or just make it even more baffling? Forty-four per cent of the 400 members surveyed said they would rather read about sex than have it, and 43 per cent said that erotic literature made their own sex lives feel boring and routine. Readers, 50 Shades is not a fly-on-the-wall documentary, you know.

Finally, a special request for the publishers of Clive James's enemies. James, best known as a broadcaster, critic, commentator and novelist, is also a brilliant poet who has published nine collections. One of his more famous poems is "The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered", in which he takes satisfaction in imagining monumental piles of his rival's failed book. James has told Radio 4's Meeting Myself Coming Back that he's been very ill for two years, and is "getting near the end ... I'm a man approaching his terminus". He is not there yet, but please, publishers, remainder the books of his enemies, just to give him some cheer.

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