Between The Covers: 26/06/2011
Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books
Sunday 26 June 2011
*You'll never be lonely at the London Library.
In the suggestions book, the screenwriter Rupert Walters (Spooks, True Blue ...) has written: "I was joined in the basement yesterday by a small mouse. Perhaps the library would consider getting a cat. TSE would certainly have approved." A photograph of T S Eliot, the author of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, hangs on the stairs of the library. We'd recommend hiring Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat, over Gus the Theatre Cat, who "was, in his youth, quite the smartest of Cats/ But no longer a terror to mice and to rats./ For he isn't the Cat that he was in his prime;/ Though his name was quite famous, he says, in its time".
*New Scientist magazine is under fire for being unscientific, after it retracted a book review that it published in 1988 and snubbed the author retrospectively. The book is Dr Rupert Sheldrake's The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature, which posits the "controversial" hypothesis that "all self-organising systems, from crystals to human societies, inherit a collective memory that influences their form and behaviour". New Scientist's 1988 review called it "Engaging, provocative ... a tour de force", and is quoted on the cover of the reissue, which will be published on 7 July. But the magazine has had second thoughts. On its website, the deputy editor Graham Lawton writes: "Back then, [our reviewer] gave Sheldrake the benefit of the doubt. Today, attitudes have hardened and Sheldrake is seen as standing firmly on the wilder shores of science. I think it is fair to say that if we were to review the new edition, [the publisher] wouldn't be mining it for promotional purposes." Many readers who have commented point out that the wilder shores of science tend to be where discoveries are made, and that threatening to write a critical review of a book that is not yet published is not strictly according to the scientific method.
*Once the Glastonbury festival is over, another set of midsummer revellers will be hoping for sun. The Iris Theatre presents A Midsummer Night's Dream from 2 July to 5 August in the gardens of St Paul's Church, Covent Garden, starring this column's favourite Shakespearean, Ben Crystal, as Demetrius. Crystal is an actor, writer and serious Shakespeare geek, having written Shakespeare on Toast (Icon Books, 2008) and co-written Shakespeare's Words and The Shakespeare Miscellany with his father, Professor David Crystal. Shakespeare on Toast came with a glowing recommendation from Dame Judi Dench, who called it "brilliantly enjoyable". Crystal is joined in the cast by John Harwood, who is celebrating 51 years as an actor and who will be busy playing Egeus, Cobweb and Peter Quince. We're told that the play will only be rained off "in extreme cases, otherwise, brollies it is".
*Congratulations to Caitlin Moran, who has officially made it as a 21st-century superstar. Not because she has published a book that will define feminism for a generation (How to Be a Woman, Ebury Press, £11.99), nor because she has talked about clown porn on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman, though those are fine achievements, too. Ms Moran is celebrating because a Lego figure has been made in her image. The figure is sold by etsy.com, is attached to a 20-inch metal bead chain, and comes with its own little laptop. (LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of Companies which does not sponsor, authorise or endorse this product.)
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