At the risk of being blackballed before we have even begun, we feel honour-bound to pass on details of Literary London's latest secret society. A message has arrived from The Grand Masters of the WSC, inviting the apparently "venerable" literary editor of The Independent on Sunday "to join the Will Self Club".
Details of the secret initiation ceremony are outlined online at thewillselfclub.co.uk. "Our priests are paedophiles, our politicians are celebrities, our celebrities are earthworms," explains its mission statement. "Who can fill this spiritual vacuum?" Well, when you put it like that, surely only the author of Great Apes, The Book of Dave, Walking to Hollywood et al. We contacted Mr Self, to ascertain his involvement with this shadowy organisation. "I am aware of it," he replied, "and while it ill-behoves me to feel flattered it does seem to contribute to one of my most cherished objectives, which is to be misunderstood." Lo, he has spoken. Is our membership still in the post?
The Cheltenham Festival of Literature (7 to 16 October), is still dwarfed by the town's other, more famous festival. In 1998, a woman jumped into a cab at Cheltenham Spa station and asked for the festival, only to be told that she'd come at the wrong time of year and the horse racing wouldn't start until March. Now there is a new festival in town, struggling to be noticed. The independent Cheltenham Poetry festival (cheltenhampoetry fest.co.uk) runs from 31 March to 3 April. George Szirtes, Adam Horovitz, John Cooper Clark and John Hegley will be there. Cabbie, head for the Town Hall.
Not only has he dismissed his employers, his wives and the world's media; now Charlie Sheen has also got rid of his literary agent, on the grounds that he'd "only" had a measly $1m offer for his memoirs. According to the New York Post, Sheen's yet-to-be-written memoir (provisionally titled Apocalypse Me) was being touted by Peter McGuigan, but they have now parted ways. Perhaps Sheen should drop London's uber-agent Ed Victor a line. Not only did he appar-ently juggle bids in excess of $7m for Keith Richards' memoir, Life; he even got Richards to remember enough to write it.
Last week's feature, entitled "Where are all the female reviewers", has provoked a mass of comment, including many review pitches from brilliant women, an offer to appear on a panel of women along with "a token male reviewer", the observation that more men appear to die in obituaries pages, too, and a request to "make us a cup of tea love, I'm gasping" (watch it, Mr Broxted!). Somebody who should have read it is Ed Miliband, who was photographed in front of his book shelves for an interview. The shelves housed only one novel written by a woman: The Bradshaw Variations, by Rachel Cusk.
If most people offered to show you their 3,000-photo family album, you'd be forgiven for making your excuses, but Faber & Faber has announced its acquisition of two books by the Manic Street Preachers' Nicky Wire, starting with Death of The Polaroid: A Manics Family Album. Wire describes it as "engaging and tactile", and can be seen at http://www.thethought fox.co.uk/?p=4152 describing how lucky he feels, as a poetry fan, to be on "a label" as illustrious as Faber. Someone sounding very much like Faber's rock'n'roll editor Lee Brackstone can be heard sounding quite chuffed to be described as a "label".