Fry's Oscar, Mailer's Jesus, the Lazy River Cafe, and other future best-sellers

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The contenders for the Christmas bookseller list are already edging their way into the bookshops, and as a service to readers I am bringing you a first selection of the hottest new candidates on the bookshelves.

Oscar and I by Stephen Fry (Solipsism Press, pounds 19.99)

Oscar Wilde was in the middle of the most successful run of his life when suddenly he went missing for a couple of years. Where had he gone? Well, Reading Gaol, as it turns out. Stephen Fry is well equipped to understand Wilde's prison experience, as he, too, went to public school, and he now tells the story of himself and Oscar Wilde - or is it a very clever novel about something else entirely different? Hard to tell, but fun to try.

The Pontypridd Unarmed Combat Book (Welsh RFU Paperback, pounds 5.99)

A useful guide to self-defence for the ordinary rugby player who is quietly minding his own business when he is suddenly set upon by someone whose face he has just stamped on. Video replays of many rugby flare-ups show that although many rugby forwards know how to swing a punch, they haven't the faintest idea how to land one and make the other man fall over. This book tells you how.

The Old Man River Cafe Cookbook (The River Cafe Recycling Press, pounds 15.99)

A mouth-watering selection of regional Italian dishes from the US's deep South.

Jesus Christ: The Glory Years by Norman Mailer (Ratchet and Lever, pounds 19.99)

This is Norman Mailer's much-acclaimed life of Jesus, told in terms of a heavyweight boxing career, looking at Jesus's high-flying years when he was simply unbeatable, and his sudden fall from grace when he came up against new Roman regulations which he simply couldn't come to terms with.

"I have always believed that a man's got do what a man's gotta do," growls Mailer, "so I also believe that the Son of Man's gotta do what the Son of Man's gotta do. That's what the book's about. Read it if you don't believe me, wise guy."

Up the Lazy River Cafe Cookbook (The River Cafe Recycling Press, pounds 15.99)

A mouth-watering selection of regional Italian dishes which don't take any time or energy.

The Pre-Shrunk Gene by Richard Dorking (Airport Philosophy Press, pounds 29.99)

Richard Dorking, acclaimed author of The Blind Piano Tuner, The Drunken Car Mechanic, Knock Three Times if You're God and No, I'm Sorry, You're Confusing Me With Stephen Hawking - He's Someone Else has now come up with the amazing theory that some of us have a gene which predisposes us to write long books explaining the nature of the world, and of human behaviour as well, if there is space. He also theorises that most of the rest of us have a gene which predisposes us to buy such books, but not, extraordinarily, to read them.

The Man Who Thought Princess Diana was a Saint by Oliver Sax (Humdrum Books, pounds 29.99)

A man walked into Oliver Sax's office one day convinced that Princess Diana was a saint. What was odd about this was that he was the 35,000th person he had met that day who believed it. The more Oliver Sax studied the case, the more he came to believe that there was a best-selling book in there somewhere. This is it.

Walking Round The World Backwards by Michael Palin (BBC Xmas Books, pounds 25.99)

"I don't want to be known as the world's oldest nice man," says Michael Palin.

"Oh yes you do," says the BBC, "now off you go again."

"Oh, OK," says Michael Palin.

This is the book of what happened next.

A Portrait of John Major by Norman Lamont (Nostalgia Press, pounds 3.99)

Hard on the heels of John Major's disappearance from the scene comes this book about him - but all the pages are completely blank. Is this a printer's error? A joke? A post-modernist kind of biography? A rather nice blank jotting pad? Hard to tell. Others in this series include A Portrait of William Hague, A Portrait of John Redwood, A Portrait of Stephen Dorrell, etc.

The Moon River Cafe Cookbook (The River Cafe Recycling Press, pounds 15.99)

A mouthwatering selection of southern Italian recipes taken from well- known song titles.

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