Between the Covers: Jay McInerney, Man Booker Prize,, Slightly Foxed

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The Independent Culture

Just about every well-known Murdoch employee has been pestered for a view on the phone-hacking scandal, so how about Jay McInerney, who writes a wine column for Murdoch's The Wall Street Journal? He made a recent appearance at the Beauchamp Club in London to read from his short story collection, How It Ended, and talk about his research on Dominique Strauss-Kahn. "Maybe his phone will be hacked and we'll find out exactly what happened," he joked, before remembering himself and adding: "[Murdoch] is my boss, and I love him." News International execs will be hoping – in a way – that McInerney's prediction comes true about how the scandal will play out. "A story's like a coke binge," he says. "It can only last so long."

Congratulations again to the writers and publishers of the 13 novels longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. They can break open the champagne again now that the results of the week's sales boost are in. According to The Bookseller, the bookies' favourite Alan Hollinghurst is also the best seller, having sold 2,143 copies of The Stranger's Child in the week that the longlist was announced. That makes a sizeable dent in the total 5,126 books sold by all 13 longlisters combined – which total was obviously still less than the sales of Katie Price's The Comeback Girl. But let's not be downhearted: sales of the longlisted books are up 111 per cent on the week before, with one novel, Jane Rogers' The Testament of Jessie Lamb, selling 16,300 per cent more copies than the week before its longlisting. (That's because last week it sold 164 copies, whereas the week before it sold just one.) Meanwhile, Esi Edugyan's "assured, vivid, persuasive" and "redemptive" Half-Blood Blues (Profile) has added 2,500 to an initial print run of 6,000.

Thanks also to, which brings us news of how the small indie publishers on the list have been coping with the spotlight. At Sandstone Press in Dingwall, near Inverness, there are only two members of staff: the MD and a part-timer. Seren Books, which publishes Patrick McGuinness' The Last Hundred Days, is the first Welsh publishing house ever to make the list. Oneworld, which publishes Yvvette Edwards' A Cupboard Full of Coats, has published only five novels before this one. Incidentally, Sandstone's founder and MD, Robert Davidson, trained as a civil engineer and spent 33 years working in the water industry. His own novel, Site Works, is informed by his experience of crawling through raw sewage beneath the streets of Glasgow. So, he'll have been well able to deal with the literary press, then.

The autumn issue of Slightly Foxed is not published until late September, so for any authors appearing at book festivals over the summer, here is some invaluable advice from its columnist Oliver Pritchett, who writes about the etiquette of the signing queue. The article includes Queue Envy; Ball Point vs Fountain Pen; dedications and signing for friends. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is: "Good manners demand that you produce a decent signature for the customer; some scrawl which looks like an overwrought caterpillar may be good enough for the postman but it won't do for the person who has just forked out £29.99. (Also, dashing off a signature too fast will shorten your queue and won't allow you to compete with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, signing at the next table and still laboriously heading towards his hyphen.)"