Pottermania continues to follow J K Rowling wherever she goes, even when there's no sign of Harry Potter. Rowling, above, hasn't yet launched her first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, and it is already turning into a circus.
Tickets for her reading and Q&A this Thursday at London's 900-seat Queen Elizabeth Hall sold out within 48 hours. The book signing is limited to one copy per audience member. If you're desperate for a ticket, three were knocking around on eBay for £65-a-piece a few days ago (their original price is £12 to £15), while a signed copy of the book (which, for the uninitated few, has nothing to do with Hogwarts) was going for £475.
Astonishingly, the book hasn't even been signed yet but the seller clearly indicates he/she will turn up to the Cheltenham Literary Festival at the beginning of October to get a dedication before it is put it the post to the lucky buyer. The book is apparently a "big novel about a small and seemingly idyllic English town with an uncertain future".
Lauper releases a memoir, and as for Beth … ditto
If you like renegade pop divas, two of the best are putting out memoirs: Beth Ditto and Cyndi Lauper, right. They will no doubt be as unpretentious as we expect them to be. Ditto, who has called hers Coal Into Diamonds, notes: "This is my story – growing up feeling like you are on the margins of society and struggling to find your place.
My memoir talks directly to disenfranchised, misunderstood kids everywhere." One of seven siblings, she came from what she describes as a trailer-park family, "crazy poor", who sometimes shot and ate squirrels for entertainment. Lauper has her own "warts and all" recollections of rebellion, mouthiness and a creepy stepdad who led her to flee home at 17. When record executives tried to style her as the next Barbra Streisand early on, and have her sing ballads, Lauper remembers saying was, "I can't take enough medication to stand still that long, okay?"
Afghanistan's Taliban wax lyrical about life, war and religion
The human, and artistic, side of the Afghan Taliban will be the main topic for discussion at Asia House in London next month. Alex Strick van Linschoten, the editor of a collection of Taliban poetry, says audiences have so far been supportive, despite the criticism the book has raised.
It contrasts the Taliban's writing about unrequited love, vengeance, religion – and even a yearning for non-violence – with their politics of repression. The collection has caused controversy but any discussion about its publication is an important one. Then there are those publications that go seeking controversy. The End of Men And The Rise of Women, an attention-seeking book due out next month, has a blinding yellow cover and a bright lettering that seems to scream to be talked about, if not to be read.
Lichtenstein's show should bowl them over
Tate Modern got arts reporters in the mood for an upcoming retrospective of the pop artist, Roy Lichtenstein, by throwing a themed 'all-American' breakfast yesterday. Bagels and milkshakes were served at the All Star Lanes bowling alley in Holborn, London –something of a modern museum for old Americana.