Between the Covers 25/11/2012
Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books
Sunday 25 November 2012
JK Rowling may not have made the shortlist for this year's Bad Sex Awards, but there are plenty of familiar names in the frame, including Tom Wolfe, the BBC's Paul Mason, the poet Craig Raine, and Condé Nast boss Nicholas Coleridge. But who will present the prize?
Every year, the Literary Review finds a prominent figure to hand over the gong at a bash at London's In And Out Club (geddit?). Last year it was Barbara Windsor, and previous high-octane figures have included Courtney Love, Mick Jagger, and Dominic West. My mole at the dusty Soho magazine tells me they are in high level talks with General David Petraeus, who has more time on his hands since resigning as head of the CIA over extra-curricular rumpy. Other possibles are thought to include Dominique Strauss-Khan, Edwina Currie, and Hugh Bonneville, though the Literary Review refuses to be drawn when I call. Why not ask JK Rowling? She's probably so relieved that The Casual Vacancy won't be given the Bad Sex treatment – throaty actors reading out the sexy bits to roars of laughter – that she might even say yes.
Julie Burchill captured the zeitgeist of the 1980s with her steamy novel Ambition, about a thrusting female tabloid journalist desperate to get to the top. Now, as Rebekah Brooks is charged with making alleged corrupt payments, the book has a certain renewed resonance. So you have to hand it to Atlantic imprint Corvus, for spotting an easy publishing opportunity: they have bought the rights and plan to reissue the novel in May. "I read Ambition well over half a dozen times back in the 90s, so much so that I know bits of it almost off by heart," says Atlantic editor-in-chief Ravi Mirchandani. "It still seems as hilarious and as outrageous as it did back then, so refreshingly different from the tweeness and humourlessness of today's 'mommy-porn'." The book's protagonist, Susan Street, is deputy editor of a tabloid paper, and will do, er, anything, proprietor Tobias Pope wants in order to land the top job. "Writing Ambition was one of the most pleasurable and profitable acts of my long and lurid career," trills Burchill. "And even now, it makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like Anne of Green Gables."
You read him here first: Robert Macfarlane's first piece of journalism was a book review for this newspaper in 1999, when he was just 23. Now, the travel writer and fellow of Emmanuel College Cambridge has been named chair of the judges for next year's Booker Prize. Fortunately, Macfarlane is used to hearing a diversity of opinions. Though his first book, Mountains of the Mind, was widely praised and won the Guardian First Book Award, it went down less well within the climbing community. A spat ensued between literary types and climbers, which culminated with a letter in The Guardian from Colin Wells, literary editor of On the Edge magazine. He complained of Macfarlane's "lack of originality and the derivative nature of most of his book" and said his own reviewer was "more than adequately qualified to comment on the literary merits and factual inadequacies of Macfarlane's work." A useful lesson for Booker judging: You can't please everyone all of the time.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 3 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Phil Tufnell, Heather Mills and co take to the slopes
Game of Thrones: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' goes viral 35 years later
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures