Friday 29 November 2019

Compass Points 329

We were so sad this week to hear of the death of the popular critic and broadcaster, bestselling author and much-loved poet, Clive James. Ian Shircore’s So Brightly at the Last (£18.99, hb, 978 1913062071) the first poetic biography of Clive, has been brought forward and was published yesterday by Red Door Press. So Brightly at the Last is a fond and revealing account of James’s 60-year poetic career, from early successes like The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered to recent internet hits like Japanese Maple and Sentenced to Life. In the book, James talks for the first time about his nightmare experience of being locked up in a mental hospital for two months. He also explains why he turned his back on his lucrative TV career and how his ten-year battle against leukaemia, emphysema and several other life-threatening conditions led him to focus his energy on the poems that have established him as ‘a major minor poet’. Oxford Professor John Carey has called So Brightly ‘terrific’ and said he ‘read it with astonishment and learnt a huge amount’. Clive himself was able to read a pre-publication copy in the days before his final illness and called it ‘a wonderful book, energetic, informal and beautifully written’ and said he was ‘thrilled and delighted’ with its exploration of his work. I think this will do extremely well – order it today and it will be in your shops by Monday!

And here is Clive, reading what has been described as his ‘farewell poem’, and from which the lines ‘So brightly at the last’ are taken; Japanese Maple.

An absolutely ace review in The Irish Catholic for A Matter of Interpretation (£12.99, hb, 978 1912054701) which has just been published by Fairlight. You can read the whole thing here but the highlights are: ‘Elizabeth MacDonald’s absorbing novel is built up around the character of the celebrated Michael Scot and his relations with the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Hohenstaufen II and various other players in the Middle Ages, the Church, the Arabs, the Jews and the plotting and conniving that was all so important an aspect of ecclesiastical and academic life. Very powerful indeed …this is a book which anyone interested in the development of Europe will want to read … this is a book filled with interest … very thought provoking …those who read will long keep it in mind. Here one suspects is something very close to the truth, and the truth is always interesting, and often astonishing.’ There has also been a review this week in the RTE Christmas Guide.

Great to see as Isabel Galleymore’s Harvest as Poem of the Week this week in The Guardian! You can read it here. It’s from Significant Other (£9.99, pb, 978 1784107116) which is published by Carcanet. The Guardian writes ‘Significant Other observes a range of fauna and flora with a 19th-century collector’s loving alertness. Galleymore’s reach extends to the Amazon rainforest, but there’s a particularly intense focus on marine life (the slipper limpet, the goose barnacle, the spiny cockle). These studies, sometimes interwoven with wry reports on human specimens emphasise the strangeness and uniqueness of some of our less noticed housemates on Earth. Harvest thoroughly deserves its place among the exhibits.’

William Roache was a ‘big guest’ on Steve Wright in the Afternoon on Radio 2 this week, talking about Life and Soul: How to Live a Long and Happy Life (pb, £12.99, 978 1788173537) which is new in paperback from Hay House. You can listen again to that here. Steve Wright has a massive listenership of 8.1 million listeners, so this really is a fantastic promotion for the paperback of this bestselling book and Roache talked very engagingly, sharing his strategies for keeping fit and healthy, maintaining his youthful looks and coping with life's most challenging times. He spoke about the power of love, kindness and positive thinking and said his top bit of advice is ‘life is to be enjoyed.’ Hear hear Bill!

A super review in the Irish Times this week for Nayrouz Qarmout's The Sea Cloak (£9.99, PB, 978 1905583782). Brian Maye said of the collection, 'These stories give insights into life in Gaza, without melodrama or exaggeration, and in language that is clear and rich.' You can read the full review here.

A summary of all the great publicity for Alicia Eaton’s First Aid for Your Child’s Mind (978 1788601177, pb, £12.99) is available to view here. Highlights include a feature in Raring 2 Go, 'Keeping Kids Calm and Happy in an Age of Anxiety' , a piece in Daily Telegraph 'How taking risks in sport is good for kids mental wellbeing and why?' and interview feature in Women's Weekly and a ‘How to Support a Worried Child' feature in Families nationwide magazine. It was published last month by Practical Inspiration and is packed  full of practical suggestions and common sense for all those parents who want to encourage their children to be well-rounded, independent thinkers.

The year is 2013, and Crumlin-born mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor is sitting in McDonald's as he enjoys his weekly coffee, a treat in the eyes of a dedicated fighter. He’s not yet cashed his £60,000 prize money after his maiden UFC victory, but he savours the win, since only recently had he found himself in the social welfare queue. Five years on and McGregor is late for his own press conference before eventually launching into a diatribe against his opponent, which turns into a sales pitch for his own brand whiskey. Somewhere along the line, the fighter has become a stranger to his art. But what is McGregor? Dedicated athlete? Cultural phenomenon? Troubled soul? Narcissist? Arrogant thug? Or sporting icon? In Chaos is a Friend of Mine: The Life and Crimes of Conor McGregor (£14.99, hb, 978 1909245907), former Irish Sportswriter of the Year, Ewan MacKenna examines McGregor's journey, from his upbringing in the Irish capital, to his early days as a prodigiously talented martial arts obsessive, to his recent antics outside the ring which have seem him grow bigger than the sport itself, but threaten to spiral out of control. The Independent called it ‘a supremely written book, that touches topics way beyond the character at the centre of it all’ and it’s just been published by De Coubertin.

A fantastic spread in the Express for Night Sky by Robert Harvey (hb, £19.99, 978 1782749189) showing off just a selection of the two hundred outstanding colour photographs of stunning nocturnal vistas, in this this amazing book of astronomical wonders It’s published by Amber.

And in this week’s Hot Topics, here's  ET coming home for Sky, here's  the Rise of Skywalker and  here's  Artist of the Year Taylor Swift performing live at the American Music Awards and here's  Elton John talking about what its like to be bald!

That’s all folks, more next week!

This weekly blog is written for the UK book trade. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the Compass office on 020 8326 5696. Every Friday an e-newsletter containing highlights from the blog is sent out to over 700 booksellers and if you’d like to receive this then please contact

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