Friday 2 November 2012

Compass Points 21

Your weekly round up of publishing news, publicity information and trivia!

On 12 May 2009 Margaret Evison’s son Lieutenant Mark Evison died of wounds sustained whilst leading a patrol in Helmand Province. Hailed a hero, Mark’s death was a national sacrifice, his funeral public, his grave to be one of many in the identical, ordered rows in a military cemetery.  But to his mother Margaret it was the most intimate of griefs. In Death of a Soldier, she attempts to reconcile her own unanswerable sense of loss with the idea that her son died for a good cause. With her, we confront the horror  of his death and witness her struggle to see epithets such as ‘heroic’ and ‘noble’ as more than a mask to hide that  ugliness. Included in the book is Mark’s diary, kept while he was in Afghanistan and delivered to Margaret at home some weeks later. Widely quoted since its discovery, it contains the thoughts of a sensitive young officer and serves as a poignant reminder of the terrible human cost of the war in Afghanistan. Whilst this is a book about the nature of grief, it is also the story of a mother’s struggle to understand how and why her son came to die, and as such it touches on many issues of public interest. Margaret Evison was on BBC Breakfast this morning talking about the book and there is also an interview on the BBC News Channel which is being played constantly. In the run up to Remembrance Sunday there will be many more interviews with Margaret and coverage of this book in general. She is on Radio 5 on Sunday morning, there was an interview in the Times on Tuesday and the Standard, the Daily Mail and the Sunday Express are all running pieces this weekend. Next week Margaret is doing a morning of regional radio interviews and will be appearing on the LBC Book Club on Thursday and Sky Sunrise on Remembrance Sunday.  She is also doing Women’s Hour on Radio 4 on Christmas Day.  As Margaret eloquently demonstrates, that mixture of the personal and political is what uniquely characterises the death of a soldier, and this articulate, revealing and at times almost unbearably moving book is an important reflection on loss, war and our responsibilities to those we send to fight.

Now – we don’t often tell you about children’s books – but this one has turned into a bit of a hot news story – and is now even trending on Twitter. The Tobermory Cat by Debi Gliori could have just been another rather lovely picture book, but instead it has been drawn into an increasingly surreal copyright battle, which has rumbled on for months and become ever more vicious, featuring hate mail, "screams of abuse" over the telephone and cyber-bullying. And all over a cat! Once upon a time, a ginger tom cat lived in Tobermory on the Scottish isle of Mull. The tourists loved him; a local artist even set up a Facebook page collecting photos of him lounging on walls, soaking up the sunshine. A Scottish publisher decided to commission a children's book about the Tobermory Cat, and asked a well-known author to write it. Everyone lived happily ever after. The End. Except it wasn't. You can read the full story in the Guardian here. In the meantime, you know what they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and The Tobermory Cat continues to sell and sell. The publishers (Birlinn) are highly likely to sell out of the first (hardback) edition – so order it now while you can! The Times will be covering the story this weekend – and other papers are sure to get onto it – you know what the media are like once they get hold of something a bit controversial!  The debate over whether you can copyright an idea, a story or a title is a fascinating one, and is sure to run and run…

Feeling stressed? Just say F**k It! This is the headline of a two page article in Grazia magazine (easily the bestselling women’s weekly) this week and it refers to the Hay House title just published: F**k It: The Profane Way to Profound Happiness by John C Parkin. This bestselling author believes these two tiny yet powerful words are the key to becoming happier and less stressed. He says “I run relaxation and therapy retreats in the UK and Italy. I found myself telling people to just say f**k it to things that were stressing them out. It soon because clear that most people found saying that phrase was just as relaxing and powerful as hours of meditation. The two words pinpoint what causes the most stress in our lives; that we care about too many things. And of course the F-word has inherent power. If you say it calmly it helps you let go and relax.” Common sense? Or pretentious nonsense, likely to end up in Private Eye’s Pseuds Corner? Either way, a big article like this in Grazia is terrific publicity for the book!

Ooh is there anything nicer than the smell of warm freshly baked bread on a cold winter’s day like today? Brilliant Breadmaking in your Bread Machine by Catherine Atkinson is published this month and is both for those who are new to bread making but also those who want to expand their repertoire of recipes. Bread Machines are still big sellers – especially in the colder months, and this terrific title takes you through the basic techniques and provides foolproof advice on how to make the perfect loaf. If you are concerned about what goes into the food you eat, you can now decide the ingredients of your daily bread yourself, and make bread that you will love. There are chapters on breads for those on special or restricted diets, such as gluten-free, and recipes using spelt and rye flours. All recipes are suitable for all makes of bread machine, and most recipes include ingredients for medium or large loaves or a small loaf using a compact bread machine.  Catherine is a full-time writer and food consultant to many food and lifestyle magazines and has written more than fifty cookbooks. And if you just fancy a bit of cookery karaoke in your bookshop – then click below for the fantastic Masterchef Synesthesia rap!

Few foreigners are lucky enough to set foot on Tibetan soil, but Alec Le Sueur spent five extraordinary years there, working in the unlikeliest Holiday Inn in the world. The Hotel on the Roof of the World: Five Years in Tibet is set against the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas as Alec unfolds a highly amusing and enlightening account of his experiences. Fly infestations at state banquets, unexpected deliveries of live snakes, a predominance of yaks, the unbelievable Miss Tibet competition, and a dead guest are just some of the entertainments to be found at the ‘Fawlty Towers’ of Lhasa. This is a unique and humorous insight into a fascinating country which even today remains largely closed off from the rest of the world. Previous editions have sold 15,000 copies – this has a eye-catching new cover, and is already getting a lot of good publicity – there is a review coming up in Adventure Travel magazine (circ 20,000) and also National Geographic magazine (circ 70,000). It is published in January and you can order it here. Michael Palin said of it, (and this quote is on the cover) ‘One of the most strangely seductive places I’ve been to... Thank you to Alec Le Sueur for bringing it to life.’

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

1 comment:

  1. Debi Gliori is fab - we love you Debi - don't let the b*****rds grind you down!