Cover Stories: IDS; Jimmy Carter; David Blaine; Hogwarts Headaches

The week's literary highlight, of course, was the début of IDS, whose latest fantasy is that he is embarking on a career as a novelist. Early reaction suggests we won't all be humming The Devil's Tune. But there is further news from the Conservative literary camp: Sandra Howard (below), wife of Duncan Smith's successor Michael, is polishing the manuscript for her début novel, Love in High Profile. It's about a minister whose husband has no interest in her political career and who finds comfort in the arms of a newspaper editor, whose wife has no interest in his. Several years ago, when Howard was represented by Curtis Brown, a number of publishers turned it down. Little appears to have been changed but, now that hubbie is no longer yesterday's man, editors have decided to take a second look. Especially if it can be picked up as cheaply as IDS's magnum opus.

* In contrast, the first novel of former President Jimmy Carter is garnering positive reviews in the US, although still without a home here. The Hornet's Nest, a novel of the American Revolution and the first in a Gore Vidal-esque series, is apparently more even-handed than other such tales: the Brits are not all villains, nor the Americans heroes. Noted one reviewer: "The chief casualties... are all the clichés about the birth of a nation." The former Prez also painted the cover artwork.

* Much excitement among publishers as a select few were invited in to the presence of David Blaine, whose American lawyer-cum-agent, David Vigliano, is handling the sale of the leather-bound diary he kept during the 44 days he spent dangling in his Perspex box over the Thames. Boxtree/ Channel 4 Books, which publishes his Mysterious Stranger, had assumed Blaine's scribblings were theirs for the asking - which they might be, once he and Vigliano have ratcheted up the price by touting them around. One publisher called Blaine's musings "quite poignant": no green ink but lots of capital letters and lists. One listed the foods he was missing: it included fish fingers. Want to read more?

* The latest New England Journal of Medicine carries a letter from Dr Howard Bennett of George Washington University Medical Centre identifying a new affliction: Hogwarts Headaches, which affect children aged eight to 10 for two to three days after having spent hours engrossed in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Dr B writes that the obvious cure for the malady - take a break from reading - is rejected by many patients. As JKR produces future doorstops, the kids will all be needing Potter specs.

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