The Diary: Tracy Chevalier; sexism in Waterstone's; Sylvester Stallone; Gilbert and George; Beyond These Walls exhibition
Friday 14 August 2009
Early failure can be good for you
Tracy Chevalier, the historical novelist, said looking back at her humble beginnings, it was no bad thing her debut novel, 'The Blue Virgin', about an American woman searching for French ancestors, sunk like a stone. "I'm glad it happened to me. It's very hard with a successful first novel. The level has been set very high. Look at Monica Ali's and Zadie Smith's second novels and the reviews they received..." Despite initial failure, Chevalier managed to come up trumps with her second novel, 'Girl With a Pearl Earring', which was a bestseller and adapted for film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. She didn't let the pressure of stellar success paralyse her either: she's bringing out her sixth novel, 'Remarkable Creatures', about two eccentric spinsters with a passion for fossil hunting, today. Chevalier, an American who lives in London, said she has resisted joining Twitter because, um, life is simply too short: "I don't think my readers, or what I know of them, would expect me to Tweet. I write books that communicate. I don't need to tweet about it. Maybe people can Tweet about my books."
Walk into Waterstone's in London's High Street Ken branch and you'll find a table which appears to be a patronising marketing ploy: there is one table divided into two categories – "books for guys" and "books for girls". One side is filled with frothy pink-book covers about shopping and sex, while the other side is filled with "manly" thrillers and John Le Carré spy books. Waterstone's claimed the his'n'hers table was not a deeply misjudged venture but that categorising made it easier for customers to find books.
Honours for Sly
The American actor, Sylvester Stallone, will receive the prestigious Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award, at the Venice Film Festival in September, which is awarded to an artist who has "left his mark in contemporary cinema" and has previously been given to cinema heavyweights such as Takeshi Kitano and Abbas Kiarostami. The prize intends to celebrate Stallone's stature as a filmmaker. A festival spokesman said: "Stallone has shown an original eye and an auteur's determination."
My time with Gilbert and George
The artist duo, Gilbert and George, who recently got married, apparently described themselves as "twins" while they were at art school in London, despite one being Italian while the other is a Brit. Artist Susie Hamilton, whose work will be showing at Paul Stolper's London gallery from 10 September, said, reminiscing: "My best friend at St Martins was called Pat... (we would) wear smart suits to college. Gilbert and George came back to the college and met us and liked the fact that we were "twins" like them. "For a while we used to go out as a foursome, dancing and drinking sherry in my parents' flat..."
Life imitates art at Peckham gallery
A group of builders working on expansion of Peckham's South London Gallery have, unknowingly, become part of the gallery's latest exhibition, Beyond These Walls, while carrying out a refurbishment. The SLG, which has exhibited material by Steve McQueen, Simon Starling and Tracey Emin's infamous tent, marked the start of their building work with a dedicated art show, complete with hard hats for the builders inscribed with the words: "the source of art is in the life of the people". Some of the behatted builders appear bemused about being "part of the art", according to a source.
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