Friday 5 April 2019

Compass Points 300

Two Carcanet titles are on the shortlist for the prestigious Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize for Second Collections. James Womack’s On Trust: A Book of Lies (978 1784104160, £9.99, pb) is a book of lying monologues playing with the idea that confession is necessarily truthful. Humorous and accessible, the collection touches on themes of being and belonging, death and fate. The Sunday Times said James is a “bright young poet and has scope, curiosity and a refreshing sense of not having foresuffered everything he encounters.” Rory Waterman’s Sarajevo Roses explores themes of collective, individual and European identity in a time of political uncertainty. The TLS said “Rory Waterman writes poems of the kind there’ll always be a need for.” Find out more

I love the idea of a prize specifically for second collections; this biannual prize is the first of its kind and aims to support and encourage ‘mid-career’ poets, with a £5,000 prize for the winner.  We all know that debuts are fun and exciting – but how much harder is it to keep that energy pumping second time around! Some famous authors’ second works include Pride and Prejudice, Fahrenheit 451, The Magus, Three Men in a Boat, Ulysses, Oliver Twist and Midnight’s Children; you can see more here!

And from second collections right back to debuts, many many congratulations to Sue Rainsford and New Island Press as the greatly ambitious and free-ranging Follow Me to Ground (978 1848406889, hb, £9.99) makes the Desmond Elliott Prize 2019 longlist. Launched in 2007, This prize has quickly become established as the premier prize for new fiction, with the Telegraph calling it “the UK’s most prestigious award for first-time novelists” Worth £10,000 to the winner, the judges look for a book which has a compelling narrative, arresting characters and which is both vividly written and confidently realised. You can see all ten titles on the list here. Follow Me To Ground is an unnerving, beautifully controlled tour-de-force, a sinister tale that questions our preconceptions of predator and prey and the consequences of unchecked desire and it’s available now.

With the arrival of some warm spring sunshine, my thoughts turn to tea in the garden, and whether you are planning an alfresco afternoon or whether you’re supping a warming cuppa back indoors after a freak hailstorm; The Perfect Afternoon Tea Recipe Book (£15, hb, 978 0754834519) is a real collection of delights! Here, in one delicious volume, is the ultimate teatime experience including a history of teatime, the food and the tea service, the traditions and of course how to brew the perfect cup. There are 200 recipes for all the family with all the childhood favourites = as well as more sophisticated and elegant classics, both sweet and savoury. You can have a look through the whole book here and this brand-new edition with gorgeous photographs throughout has just been published by Lorenz. Its author Antony Wild worked as buying director for Taylors of Harrogate, and has written extensively on the subject while Carol Pastor is a well-known writer and stylist with a special interest in patisserie and baking cakes.

And if you’d like to see what happens when you don’t follow the ideas in the book, have a look here  these hilarious cake fails, such as this shocker of an Easter bunny!

Brian May was doing his thing again this week on The One Show, continuing his tireless and engaging promotion for Queen in 3D (£30, hb, 978 1999667429); you can watch that one here, it’s 31 minutes in. Loads of the fab images from the book flashed up on screen – The One Show don’t usually allow books on set due to “BBC policy” but made an exception this time so that Brian could demonstrate how the Owl viewer works. Alex Jones called it a “brilliant new book filled with lovely intimate portraits of yourself and the rest of the band.” This show has 4.2 million viewers so this really was a terrific promotion. Demonstrating the power of One (see what I did there) the book immediately shot on Amazon from position 5267 to No 3 in Overall Books and No 1 in Celebrity Photography, Popular Music and Rock & Pop Biographies – and then sold out! A reprint is due in next Wednesday – I think this one should run and run…

Ruth Devlin’s Men... Let’s Talk Menopause (£9.99, pb, 978 1788600804) is starting to attract media attention, with a big feature due in The National (Scotland) due mid-April in the Sunday Seven Days section; two pieces in the Express; an Everything You Need to Know Guide For Men, as well as one for women to be hopefully printed just before Easter, or straight after and a review in Families magazine – for Father’s Day! There will be lots more to come for this title which is a comprehensive guide to the female menopause, written for men to help them understand this often-perplexing topic. It addresses all the important aspects of the menopause (both physical and psychological) and gives essential information on options available to cope with those symptoms plus good advice for men (and women!) on practical lifestyle choices. Short and easy to dip in and out of, with humorous illustrations and practical tips for what you can do (and what NOT to say), this is an indispensable handbook.

There was a much trailed documentary about the murder of Jill Dando on this week, and of course this was one of the high-profile cases included in Canbury’s bestselling Under the Wig (hb, 978 1912454082, £16.99) Its author William Clegg who represented the cleared Jill Dando murder suspect Barry George has said “the case reflects a desperation on the part of police that after a year they didn’t have the faintest idea who had done it.” You can read more on that in the Mirror here.

Love this cover for the new novel by Denzil Meyrick which is out on 11 July from Polygon. Beginning with Whisky from Small Glasses, the DCI Daley series have all become Scottish crime bestsellers, and if you haven’t discovered them yet then you really should! They’ve all been number one audiobooks on Audible, and the most recently title The Relentless Tide was one of the Scotsman newspaper's books of 2018. There will be plenty of fans waiting for number seven in the series; A Breath on Dying Embers, (£8.99, pb,. 978 1846974755) which all who have read it think is his best yet. In it we find Jim Daley at his most vulnerable, with problems, both personal and professional, attacking him from every angle.

A fantastic review by Emily Rhodes in the Spectator for the extraordinary Proleterka by Fleur Jaeggy. She tweeted “the best thing I’ve read for a while. I loved the ferocity of her pared back prose. Thank you And Other Stories for publishing such astonishing writing.” You can read the review here.  Compressed, delicate and brutally precise, Proleterka is a fierce coming-of-age story, a ferocious study of distance, diffidence and ‘insomniac resentment’. The review ends “Jaeggy’s highly unusual work, originally written in Italian is finally gaining recognition in the English-speaking world. Joseph Brodsky said of her novel Sweet Days of Discipline: “Reading time … four hours. Remembering time… rest of one’s life.” For Proleterka, I say exactly the same.”

Significant Other (978 1784107116, £8.99, pb) is the Poetry Book of the Month in the Telegraph for March, hurrah! You can see that here. In this, her first book of poems, Isabel Galleymore takes a sustained look at the “eight million differently constructed hearts” of species currently said to inhabit earth. Drawing at times from her residency in the Amazon rainforest, Galleymore delves into a world of pink-toed tarantulas, the erotic lives of barnacles, and caged owls that behave like their keepers. The poems explore ecology, extinction and climate change and it has just been published by Carcanet.

I like the look of Poster Boy by N.J. Crosskey (£7.99, pb, 978 1789550146) which has just been published by Legend. It combines the social commentary of classic dystopian works such as 1984 or The Handmaid's Tale with the contemporary style of unreliable narration found in recent hits Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train. Christina Dalcher, author of VOX said “Read this too-close-to-home book, but keep it far from anyone who might be tempted to turn its fiction into reality.” while Liz Lawler, author of Don't Wake Up said it was “Completely gripping. Intensely disturbing. Terrifyingly real!” It’s just embarking on a book blog tour – so there are certain to be more good reviews to come!

Compass were off to the Royal Institute this week for the launch of the fabulous PR for Humans: How Business Leaders Tell Powerful Stories (£15.99, pb, 978 1788600552) by Mike Sergeant which is officially published on 15 April by Practical Inspiration. Plenty of publicity for this one – you can read a neat little summary from Mike about using the four Cs of storytelling in order to engage the media in PR Moment here.  

Mike Sergeant’s dad John was also at the launch – but rather than see a rather boring pic of him holding the book and the obligatory publishing-launch-party-standard-warm-white-wine; I’m sure we’d all much rather revisit this seminal moment from 2008! That’s all for now folks, more next week!

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