Friday, 29 May 2015

Compass Points 128

Compass Points did not unfortunately get to go to the Chelsea Flower Show – but maybe some of you booksellers were lucky enough to attend, and maybe some of you saw Adam Frost’s garden win his 6th Gold Medal. However, even if you didn’t see it you can re-create Adam’s design ideas and planting schemes to create your own beautiful outdoor space with Real Gardens: Adam Frost’s Chelsea Gold Medal Designs . Adam Frost appears on BBC radio and television as a contributor and his a regular contributor to garden magazines He has won an astonishing six gold medals at Chelsea Flower Show from his first self-financed garden in 2007 to his Show Gardens for Homebase over the past few years and is recognized as the designers designer creating a mixture of great design and brilliant planting. In this beautiful full-colour book bursting with gorgeous photographs, he tells the story of the creation of each garden and reveals tips and information to allow readers to create their own great spaces. The book also contains constructional details for to build garden features from paths and ponds through to walling and fences and has a palette of thirty basic plants to ensure gardening success. Real Gardens: Adam Frost’s Chelsea Gold Medal Designs (pb, 978 1905959488, £16.99) is published in July by Red Planet and you can order Real Gardens and find out more here

Have a look at Adam's lovely garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show here.



The poetry from those lovely folk at Carcanet continues to sell well, and be well reviewed: The Bookseller recommended New Poetries VI as one of the London Review Bookshop’s top ‘summer tips’. This is the sixth volume in the bestselling series edited by Helen Tookey and Michael Schmidt (pb, £12.99, 978 1784100377) showcasing work from the most exciting new poets from around the globe. As the Guardian said “These editors know their onions when it comes to poetry” and the poets in previous volumes have gone on to achieve notable success: Sophie Hannah (bestselling crime novelist), Kei Miller (winner of the 2014 Forward Prize), Tara Bergin (winner of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize) etc… The poets in this new anthology New Poetries VI vary in style, form and approach and include exceptional performers, experimentalists, traditional formalists, and poets from a myriad of racial and cultural backgrounds.

We love all of you lovely booksellers out there and your inspirational shops and we also love browsing in bookshops when we leave these shores for foreign climes – have a look here for a great selection of 17 extraordinary bookshops from all over the world!

Really good news this week about a title I mentioned a couple of weeks ago: Long Time No See by Hannah Lowe is going to be a Book of the Week on Radio 4 – to be broadcast w/c 27th July. You will recall this moving and revealing memoir moves between  the vivid world of Hannah’s father “Chick”, a half-Chinese, half Jamaican immigrant and a legendary East London gambler, and scenes of racially charged and often plain intolerant Essex life in the 80s, with flashbacks to Jamaica. This hugely satisfying read is told with an impressive generosity of spirit and it is really great news that it is going to get such brilliant publicity bringing it to a very large audience – and all around its pub date in July too! Long Time No See by Hannah Lowe (pb, 978 1859643969, £9.99) is published by Periscope and you can find out more and order it here.

There has been quite a bit of publicity for Extradited! The European Arrest Warrant and my Fight for Justice from a Greek Prison Cell by Andrew Symeou which has been published this month by Robson Press (hb, 978 1849548458, £16.99). Andrew Symeou was a university student when he was extradited to Greece on a European Arrest Warrant in 2008 on a charge of murder. Private Eye described the Greeks’ investigation as "flawed, contradictory and in places ludicrous" and a British Coroner slammed the investigation as being “a misguided effort to solve the crime”. Regardless, a British court was unable to prevent Andrew’s extradition and he was dragged away and thrown into a Greek prison where he spent almost a year pre-trial in truly horrific conditions.  Following his acquittal in 2011 he returned to London and his family, to complete his studies and campaign for a change in the law. Extradited! is a highly disturbing story of an ordinary man and his family’s fight against his wrongful imprisonment in a foreign state and a devastating examination of the system that allowed it to happen. You can see Andrew Symeou’s interview with BBC World News here which went out last week, and he has also recently been a guest on ITV This Morning, (13 May)  ITV London’s evening news show,  Talk Radio Europe (18th May) BBC Wales (19th May), and Radio 5 Live.



We literary types all know the answers to those quizzes where they ask us to name the first line of famous books – It was a bright cold day in April; It was the best of times; If you really want to hear about it etc. etc.  But how about remembering who said the first spoken line in any given novel! Not as easy as you think – test yourself here!

In 2002, Dean Lilleyman left his warehouse job drunk and went home. He stayed at home for six months and got sober. Then he went to college to get some qualifications (at the age of 35) where he read Raymond Carver and started writing short stories. By 2013, he’d won several awards for his writing, been awarded an MA scholarship, written a novel, and lectured in creative writing at a university. He now writes full time and Billy and the Devil is his startling debut novel published by Urbane PublicationsBilly and the Devil presents the emotive story of Billy and his battle with alcoholism – it is a shocking and intimate portrayal of isolation, sexual misadventure, and addiction. Told in a series of unflinching episodes from Billy’s life either first-hand or through the eyes of others, it charts his experiences as child and adult growing up and living in 70s, 80s and 90s Sheffield. There’s quite a buzz building for this challenging novel; one reviewer said "Put it this way, a great novel doesn't end after you have read the last page. It reaches out after publication and plants its own mythology in the world. This is the highest achievement of Lilleyman's debut. I recommend you read this book." while another enthused "This is wild stuff, very dark and very brilliant." Billy and the Devil (pb, 978 1910692332, £8.99) is published in August and you can find out more and order it here.

Talking of addiction, alcoholics and sexual misadventure brings us neatly to a couple of biographies of fast living individuals – some who sadly did die before they got old, and some who (perhaps rather surprisingly) didn’t. Before I Get Old: The Story of the Who by Dave Marsh is the original and best biography of The Who re-issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the band and their Hits 50! tour which runs from 15 April to 4 November 2015, comprising 54 shows across the UK, Europe and the US. Commissioned by Pete Townshend and fully endorsed by everyone in the band, this is the definitive account of the seventies legend – essential reading for fans of every generation. Before I Get Old (containing 85 photos) tells the story of not one but six personalities – guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, drummer Keith Moon and singer Roger Daltrey plus their original managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. It describes the group’s origins in the steamy nightlife of London and charts their meteoric rise to fame. Here is the pathos, the laughter, the crazy world they worked in, the drugs, the destruction, the vandalism, the debts, the multi-million-dollar tours, and of course the music.

Another anniversary this year: September 2015 marks the 60th year since James Dean’s death. A lavish new biopic Life directed by Anton Corbijn, and starring Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan and Ben Kingsley will be released in cinemas worldwide this autumn -  -  you can see DeHaan talking about it here.  James Dean: Rebel Life by John Howlett is a new biography, containing 100 b/w photos, which brings to light graphic details of James Dean’s private life, reassessing the legacy of one of the greatest icons of the twentieth century. Dean’s public image was carefully constructed and maintained by the Warner Brothers studio through much publicized dates with Hollywood actresses. Recently however, revelations about Dean’s sex life – that he was a promiscuous homosexual who slept with many other actors and casting directors – have flown in the face of his traditional image, and revealed another side of Dean. The opening of the Warner Brothers archive containing letters and other documents surrounding Dean’s original casting and the making of his films have also provided an insight into his behaviour and revealed the real opinions of those who worked with him. John Howlett has interviewed many actors, lovers and girlfriends who knew Dean in New York and Hollywood and has incorporated significant new material in this new book.


Before I Get Old: The Story of the Who (pb, £14.99 978 0859655248) by Dave Marsh which you can order here and James Dean: Rebel Life (978 0859655347, pb, 14.99) by John Howlett which you can see here, are both published by Plexus in August.

And let’s remind ourselves of what real rebellious geniuses look like shall we? Here’s Who Are You? and here’s a five min tribute to the extraordinary James Dean.



That’s all for now folks, more next week!


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