Friday 27 September 2013

Compass Points 56

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

Cher. Owner of an extraordinary voice and some seriously dodgy frocks.  Whether you are a fan or not, there’s no denying that she’s a true American icon. Now published in October by Plexus comes a compelling new biography based on exclusive interviews. Cher: Strong Enough by Josiah Howard is a book which will appeal to a huge percentage of the book-buying market – including women, baby boomers, her devoted gay fan base, music lovers and pop-culture devotees. Five decades and 100 million album sales after first appearing on the music scene as one half of pop duo Sonny and Cher, the Grammy, Emmy, and Oscar-winning phenomenon that is Cher is an indisputable living legend. But part of the story of how she achieved her unique status has been left untold, until now. Here, for the first time, is the behind-the-scenes history of Cher, the 1975 variety show that transformed her from star to superstar. At the same time she was trading quips on TV with Jerry Lewis and Steve Martin, and performing with the likes of Michael Jackson and Elton John; her personal life was front—and back—page news. In the shadow of her success, Cher defied network censors, battled depression, appeared before a Grand Jury to testify in a murder trial, ended her relationship with music mogul David Geffen, married, separated from and reconciled with rock icon Gregg Allman, dealt with multi-million-dollar lawsuit by Sonny Bono and her father; and engaged in a protracted custody battle for her daughter Chastity. Cher: Strong Enough documents the ins and outs and ups and downs of a variety show that broke boundaries, dared to be different, and showcased a one-name American icon. This book is published to coincide with Cher’s new album Closer to the Truth which is released 14 October 2013. This large format paperback, (£14.99) with lots of colour photos is genuinely interesting stuff – and its author Josiah Howard is much respected by Cher herself – she continues to use Howard’s summation of her career and accomplishments on her personal Facebook page.

Hard to choose our favourite Cher moment don’t you think – but I’ve always loved this moment from Mermaids myself! 

You may remember me previously mentioning the harrowing wartime novel Monsieur Le Commandant by Romain Slocombe published by Gallic Press this month. It is now getting some superb review coverage. This novel was described as “one of the most significant novels of this year” when it was published in France and this week the Spectator said “the story of France’s anti-Semitism is one much told by historians: it has seldom been written about so powerfully by a novelist.” You can read the whole Spectator review here. The Independent called it a “harrowing epistolary novel, elegantly translated by Jesse Browner” and The Lady said it was “A brilliantly told, unflinching account”. There is a very interesting article about this book on the Gallic website – including a filmed interview with Roman Slocombe – and you can read it here.

As I write today’s edition of Compass Points, the headline story on the BBC radio news informs me that “a landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the "dominant cause" of global warming since the 1950s.” The report by the UN's climate panel details the physical evidence behind climate change and says that “On the ground, in the air, in the oceans, global warming is "unequivocal”. However, not everyone agrees – and James Delingpole certainly feels that the much of what we are told is in fact Eco Fascism: The Left’s Plan to Frighten Your Kids, Drive Up Energy Costs, and Hike Your Taxes! The Little Book of Green Eco Fascism is a pocket guide to everything that is wrong, funny or downright insane about the green movement. James would like to boast that it is printed on non-recycled paper made from the pulp of a thousand rare hardwood trees, using nothing but the purest baby squid ink – and is designed as the perfect revenge gift for all your sanctimonious tofu-eating, Prius-driving eco friends. James Delingpole is the bestselling author of Watermelons: How Environmentalists are Killing the Planet, Destroying the Economy and Stealing your Children’s Future which sold extremely well in paperback, so he’s obviously not the only person who has their doubts about the whole eco movement. He is an arch controversialist, terrific self-publicist and writes regularly for the Telegraph – all good for book sales!  He describes himself as a libertarian conservative who is right about everything. This debate is probably going to carry on for at least the length our lifetimes – so the market for Delingpole’s books is not about to vanish any time soon – unlike the polar ice caps, oops, sorry James. It’s coming in paperback from Biteback in October and you can order the Little Green Book of Eco Fascism here

How often have you tried to type a text and found that flipping predictive text has decided to make you say something you really really didn’t want to? Well, now imagine if the whole of history was plagued by such autocorrect fails! Glitzch! How Predictive Text Plays Havoc with British History by Hugh Kellett is Britain rewritten for the digital age in predictive text. Glitzch! shows us how real auto corrections can deconstruct and distort the world around us to give a whole new interpretation of our history and culture. So let’s honour our majestic Queer Vicar, the Right Honourable Primary Monster, the National Death Device, and those Loyal Bonkers of Scotland; this is an extensive love letter (or rather text message) to this land we call home. It’s very funny – and I hardly need say that it’s the perfect gift book for Christmas. It’s a £8.99 paperback from Bene Factum published in October and you can order Glitzch here

And talking of rewriting history for the modern era, it must surely be time for another of those fabulous Epic Rap Battles! How about Adolph Hitler vs Darth Vader!

Now, if there’s one thing that virtually guarantees sales, it’s hearing a famous person telling the world why they love a book on BBC Radio 4’s A Good Read. This fabulous radio programme, presented by Harriett Gilbert is on Tuesdays at 4.30 pm – then repeated on Fridays at 11pm – but of course many more listen to it on the iplayer and as a podcast. A rave review on this show really does lead to extra sales – especially when it’s for a title previously unfamiliar to many listeners – so I’m really pleased to tell you The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas is going to be featured on the show on 22 October. You can go to the BBCs A Good Read page here to find out a bit more if you are not already familiar with the series; but I really would urge you to get some stock in of The Ice Palace now, as there are going to be lots of people who will want to read it after the episode is broadcast! The Ice Palace is commonly seen as the legendary Norwegian writer’s masterpiece and Tarjei Vesaas is regarded as one of the finest writers ever to have come out of Scandinavia – he is notable for having been nominated for the Nobel Prize three times and has been considered one of the greatest prose stylists never to have won. The story concerns Siss and Unn who are new friends – so new that they have spent only one whole evening in each other’s company. But so profound is that evening that when Unn inexplicably disappears Siss’s world is shattered. Siss’s struggle with her fidelity to the memory of her friend and Unn’s fatal exploration of the strange, terrifyingly beautiful frozen waterfall that is the Ice Palace are described in prose of a lyrical economy that ranks among the most memorable achievements of modern literature. “How simple this novel is. How  subtle. How strong. How unlike any other. It is unique. It is unforgettable. It is extraordinary” said Doris Lessing, while the Times said “It is hard to do justice to The Ice Palace . . . the narrative is urgent, the descriptions relentlessly beautiful, the meaning as powerful as the ice piling up on the lake.” It is published in paperback by Peter Owen and you can order it here.

Don’t forget to keep Rula from Robson Press near the front of the store – as Britain’s best-known redhead is embarking on a whirlwind tour of publicity over the coming week! She’s going to be on BBC Breakfast on Saturday, Steve Wright in the Afternoon on Radio 2, The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, Daily Telegraph My Perfect Weekend, Scotland on Sunday, the Daily Mail Radio 4’s Midweek and This Morning! Phew! You can order Rula: My autobiography here

Asian Britain: A Photographic History by Susheila Nasta with Florian Stadtler with a preface by Razia Iqbal; is a beautiful and important hardback, coming from Westbourne Press in October. It is published in partnership with the British Library and Getty Images and is a unique and arresting photographic history of South Asians in Britain (namely in Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Glasgow and London’s East End), from 1858 to the present day. It includes rich and rarely seen images from archives in Britain, India and the US. South Asians have lived in Britain for centuries, from the first Silk Routes to the adoption of Chicken Tikka Masala as a national dish; and the ongoing mutual exchange of cultures continues to flourish today. Asian Britain vividly charts Britain’s process of coming to terms with the historic realities of its culturally diverse past and present. This extraordinary photographic history draws upon culture, film, music, the military, business, the suffragist movement and the different phases of historic settlement of Asian migrants from the subcontinent, the Caribbean and East Africa. Personalities from the arts, business, politics and sport appear alongside the pioneers – the first female law student at Oxford, the first Indian RAF pilots, the first Asian MP – and of equal significance are the experiences and history of the ordinary immigrants. This is a companion volume to Paul Gilroy’s Black Britain: A Photographic History which sold extremely well.

Compass Points is always very pleased indeed when publishers go that extra mile to get a bit of publicity for a new book – but personally I feel that perhaps Iain Dale, the publisher of Biteback may have gone just a little bit too far this week. We all know that Power Trip by Damian McBride is selling like hot cakes – partly thanks to the inspired decision to publicise it at the Labour Party conference in Brighton – but I’m not sure it was entirely necessary for Iain to go down to Brighton and start engaging in fisticuffs on the sea front with a protester and his over enthusiastic dog. Still, it did enable the BBC to include a little joke linking the name of the publisher to the barking dog – well I thought it was funny anyway! You can watch the whole clip here. I don’t think Compass Points can exactly recommend this approach to marketing - as Iain says “In some ways I have committed the cardinal sin of becoming the story myself, rather than my author … it was full of absurd bravado and in the heat of the moment I behaved in a frankly idiotic way” but there’s no doubt it livened up our week – thanks Iain and Biteback!

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

This blog is read by over 600 booksellers, publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.