Cover Stories: Stephen Fry<br/>exit strategies; spoof of <i>Da Vinci Code</i>

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The Independent Culture

Is there no end to the talents of Stephen Fry?

Is there no end to the talents of Stephen Fry? Sue Freestone, of Hutchinson, the nation's most patient publisher, who used to baby-sit the late Douglas Adams and has spent much of her life awaiting delivery from Fry, received a surprise this month. The all-round genius told her his new book is about how to write poetry. It will cover "the full spectrum of different poetic forms", she explains. Fry offered Freestone a taste of his own efforts: "Lesbian Sappho made this form/ With two beats to the final line/ Her sex life wasn't quite the norm/ And nor is mine." Expect a small-format paperback this autumn.

* Wherever literary agents gather, there is always talk about an "exit strategy" - a sale so that a firm's golden oldies can retire to pasture. A few years back, huntin', shootin' Michael Sissons engineered the sale of PFD to sports agency CSS Stellar. Having discovered there is less synergy between the two businesses than it imagined, CSS is now believed to favour getting rid of PFD - which also wants out. Meanwhile, rumours hint that the venerable A P Watt, owned by its three principals, led by Caradoc King, may be looking for a buyer; and that the characterful Sonia Land of Sheil Land may want either to buy or sell. Her agency's chief rainmaker Luigi Bonomi (responsible for How Clean is Your House and You Are What You Eat) has split to set up on his own.

* Paperback sales of The Da Vinci Code this week touched five million, a figure marked - at last - by the announcement of a spoof. The Asti Spumante Code by Toby Clements will be published on 14 April by Time Warner. David Miller of Rogers, Coleridge & White, one of the most literary of literary agents, reports that it is "spot on".

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