Cover Stories: Rock star memoirs; Michael Palin; Orange Prize anniversary

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The Independent Culture

Publishers are a star-struck lot, and no one strikes them harder than rock stars. Those memoirs frequently disappoint because their lifestyle appears as humdrum as any other over 400 pages and because, when posterity beckons, musicians experience an irony bypass. Dylan, of course, was different, offering his impressionistic memoir in small slices without having first hawked it around. But Eric Clapton is doing that right now, with a little help from super-agent Ed Victor and a ghost writer, Christopher Simon Sykes. The price is said to be around $5m. Meanwhile, Macmillan has paid a "substantial" advance (seven figures for world rights) for the memoirs of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood. Head honcho David North is grandly predicting "the greatest rock'n'roll memoir ever". Publisher-turned-agent Eddie Bell reports that "Ronnie remembers everything". (Fellow-Stone Mick Jagger was famously unable to remember anything, and in the 1980s returned a £1m. advance to Lord Weidenfeld.) And Jules Holland has signed with Penguin for his memoirs.

Michael Palin, Python-turned TV traveller and national treasure, has signed up with Weidenfeld for his diaries, to be published in three volumes with the first, The Python Years 1969-1979, due next August. Palin has been keeping a journal since the late 1960s, when he began as a scriptwriter for David Frost and Ronnies Corbett and Barker. On signing, Palin observed that "keeping a diary is like a daily jab with a pointed stick. It forces you to concentrate on life".

On Monday evening (3 October), at London's Lyric Theatre, the Orange Prize for Fiction will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a "Best of the Best" evening. The discussion of changes in women's fiction will feature the co-founder, Kate Mosse, and the chair of each Orange jury, including Sue McGregor, Rosie Boycott and Lisa Jardine. The event will unveil the winner of the Best of the Best prize, voted on by listeners to Woman's Hour. Tickets: 020-7494 5096.

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