The Literator: INSIDE PUBLISHING

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The Independent Online
MPs ARE always telling us how they like to read a little Trollope, though Roy Hattersley claims that those who like Trollope aren't serious readers. Anyway, as they pack their bags and head for Tuscany and the Dordogne, instead of popping in a book (Trollopes are all so bulky) they might like to substitute a tape. Or rather 199 tapes.

For Timothy West has finally completed his 11-year Trollope cycle for audio publishers Cover to Cover, recording all the Barchester Chronicles and Palliser novels in unabridged form - which amounts to 275 hours of tape. It doesn't come cheap, mind. Barchester will set you back pounds 290, though if you buy the whole set now there's a pounds 40 discount and a free copy of The Warden.

A RANCHER and former academic from North Carolina has struck it rich with his first novel. Cold Mountain has been a bestseller in the States since it was published in June - 100,000 copies are now in print, and one New York bookshop alone sold 600 in the week of publication. Then, last month, just as Sceptre was preparing to roll out the British edition, came news that Anthony Minghella, who hit the big time with his film of Michael Ondaatje's novel The English Patient, has bought the screen rights for $1.25m.

Based on true stories passed down by his great, great grandfather, Frazier's novel is set in the Civil War, following the odyssey of a Confederate soldier who flees the war and travels back to his Southern home to be with his sweetheart. Critics have been applying such adjectives as "monumental", "astonishing" and "timeless". For his part, Frazier is "thrilled and completely overwhelmed". Minghella will begin writing and directing immediately.

TONY PARSONS, Cosmo Landesman and anyone else whose path has crossed Julie Burchill's could be in for an uneasy few months: the once "hip young gunslinger" who, as a teenager, got herself hired by NME, is at work on her autobiography. Its title? I Knew I Was Right. Rights have been bought by Heinemann.

FREE LOVE on the Internet! This month sees the launch of a new free site featuring what claims to be the largest collection of love poems in the English language available on the World Wide Web. Filed under LionHeart, the collection was previewed on Valentine's Day, when there were over 50,000 hits. Now romantic surfers can log on 365 days a year, downloading verse by Shakespeare, Keats and Emily Dickinson among others. Covering 500 years of literature, LionHeart was created by Chadwyck-Healey, the Cambridge-based electronic publishers. It can be found at http:/lionheart.chadwyck.co.uk.

AND SPEAKING of the Net, anyone dazed and confused by English in the digital age should check out Wired Style (pounds 12.99). Created by the editors of Wired magazine, it offers a way of "navigating the shifting verbal currents of the post-Gutenberg era". When, it asks, does jargon end and "a new vernacular" begin? Where's the line between neologism and hype? What's the language of the global village? From ALTAIR (the DIY computer kit that sparked the PC revolution) to YOYOW (you own your words), everything is explained - surprisingly, in a book, and a spiral-bound and slipcased book at that. For those who feel the book is indeed dead and that life has moved on, there's also a Website at www.wiredstyle.com which promises to be "a meeting place for wordsmiths around the world to air opinions on usage". Clearly, an Elements of Style for the millennium.

JUST AS peace threatens to break out in Northern Ireland comes word of hostilities at Gerry Adams' publishers. Brandon Books of Dingle, Co. Kerry, has been in business for 15 years, its biggest success Alice Taylor's memoir To School Through the Fields (which has sold 320,000 worldwide) and its most controversial author Adams, whose short stories, polemics and biography publisher Steve MacDonogh has carefully edited.

Now, however, MacDonogh and his partner, Bernie Goggin, have fallen out over the question of future strategy, the latter, who has provided the cash, wanting a "more cautious" approach. MacDonogh plans to start up on his own. His most controversial author has already agreed to go with him.

CLEARLY TIRED of writing books about Cliff Richard, former DJ turned Classic FM presenter Mike Read is now preoccupied with Rupert Brooke. So far, he has produced an audiobook and a musical, Forever England. Now he has been commissioned to write a biography to coincide with the release of Bryan Forbes' film which goes into production this August starring Jude Law. Read's book is said to paint a vivid portrait of Brooke's tangled love life and his Fabian politics and, in the course of his researches, he has tracked down a daughter whose existence had only been guessed at. The book is due from Mainstream in October and - who knows? - perhaps Read may soon find himself on college reading lists. Perhaps Jeffrey Archer, too, could enhance his, er, gravitas by writing an introduction: he and his fragrant wife do after all live in Brooke's former home, the Old Vicarage in Grantchester, where Mary conducts the church choir and Jeffrey used to insist on winning the running events at the local school sports day.

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