Between The Covers: David and Goliath, The Omnivore website and the Apostrophe Protection Society
Your weekly guide to what's really going on in the world of books
Sunday 15 January 2012
*Judas Iscariot has had his say in fiction in the past decade, with novels by Jeffrey Archer (The Gospel According to Judas) and CK Stead (My Name Was Judas) doing their bit to rehabilitate the former friend of Jesus.
Satan, as we know, has had all the best tunes and much of the best literature since Milton's Paradise Lost (1666). Now, the imprint Drawn & Quarterly is to publish, in the form of a graphic novel by the acclaimed cartoonist Tom Gauld, the story of David and Goliath as seen from Goliath's side of the Valley of Elah. "Far from being the towering, bloodthirsty killer we remember," I'm told, "this Goliath is a gentle giant, who has been unwillingly conscripted into the army, and would rather be doing paperwork than fighting." Gauld's work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Believer, The Guardian, The New York Times and Granta, and he illustrated the children's book The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. Goliath will be published in March, at £14.99.
*The Omnivore website released its inaugural shortlist last week for The Hatchet Job of the Year, dedicated to finding "the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past 12 months" and "raising the profile of professional critics and [promoting] honesty and wit in literary journalism." The eight reviews on the shortlist include phrases such as "little short of a disgrace", "Plotwise, not a lot happens" and (in Geoff Dyer's crushing review of Julian Barnes's Man Booker-winning A Sense of an Ending), "It isn't terrible, it is just so ... average." Appropriately, then, the winner will receive a year's supply of potted shrimp (an omnivore), and an invitation to the award and party on 7 February, for fruits de mer and jazz, upstairs at The Coach and Horses – the Soho pub most famous for having had "the rudest landlord in London", Norman Balon. Indigestion all round ...
*Last week was a glorious moment for the Apostrophe Protection Society, whose chairman, John Richards, was called in to comment when the bookshop chain Waterstone's dropped its apostrophe, in order to offer "a more versatile and practical spelling", "reflect an altogether truer picture of our business today", and spontaneously antagonise all the punctuation purists in Britain. But it's not all glamour for Mr Richards, who has been tirelessly working on behalf of the apostrophe since 2001 with very little reward. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows the newspaper business that Mr Richards is a retired subeditor, who "saw the same mistakes over and over again until he decided that he could no longer ignore it". Forums on the APS website have lit up in recent days, but the fight to save the apostrophe goes on, even when the media gaze turns away. Lend your support at apostrophe.org.uk.
*Amid the apostrophe furore, it has barely been noticed (we can hardly believe it either!) that the Waterstones logo has capitalised the W at the start and reinstated "the much-loved Baskerville serif font". "Waterstones is an iconic brand deserving a capital W and a font that reflects authority and confidence," says the managing director James Daunt, who could be accused of fiddling with punctuation while McDonald's quietly turns itself into the biggest books retailer in the country. And yes, you're right, that font does look familiar. It is often used at the University of Birmingham, apparently, and by the Canadian government's corporate identity program.
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