Bookwatch

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The British book industry is taking its first tentative steps toward interactivity with the publication at the end of next month of Laura Esquivel's The Law of Love, published by Chatto and Windus. This new book, by the author of Like Water For Chocolate, is intriguingly billed as "a novel with music" and "Britain's first multi-media novel". These claims turn out to be based on a CD of Puccini arias and Mexican canzones which is attached inside the back cover. The idea is that they tie into key moments in the plot, offering "a new reading experience". Readers are advised when to play each work by discreet notes at the strategic points labelled "CD Track 1" and so on. Not so easy of course, if one is reading the novel on the bus or train.

Poetry lovers will be interested to see that BBC Books are publishing The Nation's Favourite Poems, on 26 September. Viewers of the Bookworm programme on BBC television may recall that Rudyard Kipling's If came top in a poll it conducted last October of the nation's 100 best-loved poems, closely followed by Tennyson's The Lady of Shallot and Walter de la Mare's The Listener. While these three school stalwarts may not seem the most inspiring choices, the full range of the 100 poems in the pounds 5.99 paperback is excellent.

Many of the best in the language can be found between its covers, including Manley Hopkins' The Windhover and God's Grandeur, Browning's My Last Duchess, Marvell's To His Coy Mistress, Eliot's Journey of the Magi, Heaney's Blackberry- Picking and Coleridge's Kubla Khan. Despite the absence of late Yeats, a wonderful bedside book.

Following the wildfire success of Primary Colors, the anonymous and savage send-up of the 1992 Presidential campaign, Hodder is hoping to cause a more British stir with an anonymous novel called A Question of Justice. The typescript by "a prominent figure in our criminal justice system" landed on the desk of deputy managing director Susan Fletcher the week she was going on holiday but nevertheless she read it, loved it, and bought it two days later. The novel is, she says cryptically, Bonfire of the Vanities out of Primary Colors. It will be published in July 1997, and the author's identity is to be kept secret even from Fletcher herself. My money's on Cherie Blair.

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