'No Logo' author picks a fight with a publishing minnow

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Naomi Klein has spent her career fighting bully-boy corporate giants, so it's interesting to see how she behaves when her own financial interests are undermined by a smaller player.

Naomi Klein has spent her career fighting bully-boy corporate giants, so it's interesting to see how she behaves when her own financial interests are undermined by a smaller player.

The No Logo author, who is published by Random House, is speaking to her lawyers, after the tiny London publisher Gibson Square bought the copyright to one of her recent magazine articles - and turned it into a book called No War.

Klein is upset, because the £4.99 paperback has her name emblazoned on the cover, and deals with the conflict in Iraq, which is supposed to be the subject of her next bestseller.

"A for-profit publisher in England has just released an anthology titled No War," she says. "At first glance, it looks like an original new book by me. It's not. The book contains one previously published magazine article by me that has been available free-of-charge on my website for eight months."

"I'm very concerned that readers will mistakenly believe that they are purchasing original writing. No War is not my book; I had no role in choosing the title, and will accept no revenue from its sales. I am currently writing an original non-fiction book that will be published in 2006."

Gibson Square's founder, Martin Rynja, said yesterday that he'd bought rights to Klein's essay from Harper's magazine, which first published it. "This is perfectly legal, and all Klein will achieve by making a fuss is to raise the profile of our book."

¿ Kathy Lette has leapt to the defence of Billy Connolly, who was (perhaps unfairly) laid-into by Julian Clary last week.

As this column reported, Clary told a theatre audience that Connolly was "finished," before describing him as "awful" for laughing at his own jokes.

By way of a riposte, Lette, the author of Dead Sexy, tells me: "Billy is wise, witty, warm and totally wicked. What's not to love?"

"As for laughing at his own jokes - well, if it doesn't amuse him, it's not going to amuse anyone else is it? I think it's disingenuous not to laugh. If a comic didn't think his material funny, he wouldn't be trying to amuse the audience by repeating it."

"Most comics don't do anything spontaneous without a warning, but a lot of Billy's comedy just erupts, unexpectedly, as surprisingly hilarious to him as to us."

Feisty Lette is keen on comedy. She's chummy with both Connolly, and the noted Goons fan, the Prince of Wales.

¿ Here's an unlikely literary collaboration: the former SAS trooper and pot-boiler author Andy McNab has named the villain of his latest novel - a thriller called Aggressor - after The Impressionist writer Hari Kunzru.

Apparently, Kunzru paid for the honour at a fundraising auction organised by Index on Censorship. The book's out in November, and may make uncomfortable reading for the left-leaning wunderkind.

"I'm hoping to be prominent, unpleasant, unsympathetic and violently terminated in some way," he tells me. "I bid it because I think it would be really funny to see who I am in McNab-world."

"You could (if you read too much literary theory) call it intertextuality. Naturally, I also hope to be approached to play myself in any film or TV adaptation."

¿ The novelist Wilbur Smith was born and bred in Rhodesia, and resigned from that country's military police because he believed the bush war of the 1970s was "of dubious morality".

Interesting, then, to hear his analysis of Robert Mugabe's recent election victory. "Everyone knows it was rigged," he said at a recent event organised by Foyles bookshop. "Mugabe is killing the country. Many of my friends have been caught up in the land grabs. If you see a fat man in Zimbabwe you can bet he's from Mugabe's government."

Smith's novels might not be politically correct, but he does a good line in political insults.

"I hear that Mugabe has got syphilis like Idi Amin, anyway," he adds. "That's probably what's rotting his brain. So, hopefully, he won't be around too long."

¿ By way of a tribute to Ozzy Osbourne, Pandora recently asked readers to compose a poem celebrating the end of his family's MTV show.

My mailbag is already bulging with your efforts, some of which - like Mr Osbourne's language - may not be quite suitable for a family newspaper. But here's a catchy little limerick from Benjamin Haley, in Edinburgh.

"To the Osbournes we send out farewell, / For the show has heard its death knell / With each rerun we watch, / let us turn up a notch / The volume, and remember it well."

Other readers have until Friday to submit their own work, and a bottle of Dom Perignon 1996 will be dispatched to the author of Pandora's favourite. I have also arranged for the winning poem to be personally appraised by Benjamin Zephaniah, whose official tribute to the Osbournes was published last week.