What to read next? Ask the Chipping Norton set
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Monday 27 August 2012
The book publicity blurb is one of the most straightforward sources of nepotism. If they're not from the author's friends, they are often delivered by writers with the same agent.
Most of the time, publishers can be pretty sure that the public, uninterested by the incestuous literary sphere, is completely unaware of who's chummy with whom. In the case of Charlie Brooks' new novel Switch, however, the friendships between the author and his blurbers are rather more publicly known. Brooks, husband of Rebekah Brooks (née Wade), is a bastion of the Chipping Norton Set. He's also due in court with his wife on 26 September, a fortnight after his thriller's publication. So who should be providing the puffs, but his fellow Chipping Norton Settees: Jeremy Clarkson, who calls it "a turbo-charged race to the finish", and Alex James, who claims he "couldn't put it down"?
Switch "introduces" Brooks's hero, MI6 spook Max Ward, whose "carefully ordered world is turned upside-down" by "a faceless puppet-master". Brooks dedicates the book "To Rebekah – the best wife in the world – who inspires me with her sense of decency, her clarity of thought and her integrity." By coincidence, Switch is published by an imprint of HarperCollins, which happens to be a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, of which Mrs Brooks is an ex-employee. I wouldn't be surprised if this is all reverse marketing psychology. The publishers predicting that potential readers, fascinated by press coverage of the puffery, will pick up the book at the airport. In which case, HarperCollins might consider this column a triumph. Might David Cameron be persuaded to provide a quote for the second edition?
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