Friday 24 April 2015

Compass Points 123

Is election fever building in your bookshop – or is election apathy threatening to swamp you? Some would say that from the incoherent riots of a disaffected youth to Russell Brand’s call to reject the ballot box, Britain has never been so jaded. Disempowered, disillusioned with the braying yobbery of Westminster’s ‘elite’, drained by the unpunished rate rigging and tax manoeuvring of banking and big business, we have hit a new low in political engagement. Well, Be Your Own Politician: Why it’s Time for a New Kind of Politics by Paul Twivy (who has worked with the last three Prime Ministers) argues that this can be fixed – and the solution is not to reject voting. Countless articles decry our apathy, our lack of motivation, our disinterest in political affairs. Yet the recent Scottish referendum showed the essential falsehood at the heart of this claim. The truth is that we’re far from apathetic – we’re just frustrated by the failure of our representatives to do their job. 
In this timely and innovative call to arms, Paul Twivy argues that we need a drastic overhaul of our political system at every level, forging a new relationship between the people, the state and the corporate world. Radical, entertaining and thought-provoking, Be Your Own Politician maintains that a newly energised, politically engaged society really is ours for the taking – and shows us how to claim it. This book is getting some good publicity – here’s a great review in the Mirror which calls Paul Twivy’s ideas “thought-provoking” and “brilliant”. Be Your Own Politician: Why its Time for a New Kind of Politics by Paul Twivy  is out now from Biteback (978 1849548861, pb £9.99).

Well if Paul can’t persuade you then who about this gangster rap video from  Gyles Brandreth’s gangster rap video ( yes you read that right) – his attempt to persuade today's youth to get off their backsides on 7 May!

April is National Poetry Month as I’m sure you’re all aware – and the Bookseller ran a nice article on our favourite poetry publisher Carcanet last week, as part of its piece on the shortlist for Independent Publisher of the Year; saying that Carcanet Press fought hard in one of publishing’s most challenging markets: poetry. It added prizes including the Forward to its long tally of awards, published its most diverse list of poets yet and ran creative marketing campaigns on a shoestring.”

Which famous book titles can you name that are based  on lines of poetry – and do you know which poems they’ve come from?? Well here are ten for starters...

A lot of literary anniversaries at the moment; as well as it being National Poetry Month, World Book Night was this week of course – and on Thursday it was Shakespeare’s birthday. What a lot he has given us – here are eight modern novels all inspired by the bard; and here’s a fun visual reminder of all just some of the many sayings and phrases he has contributed to the English language.

Still on the subject of great literary creations, Robson Press have just published this heart-rending true story referencing one of the most famous. The Real Peter Pan by Piers Dudgeon tells the tragic tale of Michael, fourth son of Sylvia and Arthur Llewelyn Davies who was the inspiration for one of literature’s most enduring characters. Ever since J M Barrie struck up an intense friendship with the family after a chance encounter in Kensington Gardens, Michael Llewelyn Davies was never far away from the magical, yet faintly obsessive influence that the author wielded. Far from being just a muse for Barrie, however, Michael was an active participant in the world of Peter Pan, from the mermaid’s pool of Kensington Gardens to the fairies that inhabited Barrie’s native Scotland, allowing the author to re-enter Neverland with all the innocence and unrestrained imagination of a child. As the years went on and Michael grew out of playing pirates and indians, he and Barrie remained as close as ever, corresponding almost daily. Theirs was a relationship founded on make-believe and whimsy, but, in a curious and in many ways eerie instance of life imitating art, laced with barely disguised obsession and punctuated with tragedy. It was D. H. Lawrence who once wrote of Barrie’s “fatal touch for those he loves “, and his relationship with Michael was perhaps the clearest example of this supposed curse. The Real Peter Pan: The Tragic Life of Michael Llewelyn Davies is a captivating true story of childhood, friendship, war, love and regret (hb, 9781849547901, £20.00) and it has a gorgeous evocative cover. There is a new blockbuster film: Pan (starring Hugh Jackman and Amanda Seyfried) coming this summer – so great ready for a whole new wave of interest in this permanently popular story!

Watch the trailer for the new film Pan here – looks like fun!

 All children, except one, grow up is surely one of the greatest first lines of all time. But how well do you booksellers really know your opening lines? It is a truth universally acknowledged that it was the best of times; the clocks were striking thirteen and if you really want to hear about it, call me Ishmael?
Test yourselves here – an excellent way to spend a Friday!

A bit of a buzz is building for a cracking bit of travel/nature writing coming in July – Sixty Degrees North: Around the World in Search of Home by Malachy Tallack . It's just been the Editor's Choice for July in the Bookseller and we have received a very strong endorsement from Robert Macfarlane (bestselling author of The Old Ways and Landmarks).  “Thank you very much for sending me Malachy's Sixty Degrees of North. It's a book I've been looking forward to reading for some while - and I wasn't disappointed when I did. The first thirty pages in particular are quite brilliant, I think, as is the last chapter. The whole is held together not just by the line of latitude … but also by a tight weave of images and preoccupations, and of course by the sense of unresolved loss and grief, that flows through the whole. In the fineness of its investigation of the meanings of home, and the needs for travel, it reminded me of William Fiennes's The Snow Geese. It is a brave book in its honesty and self-exposure, I think, and a beautiful book in terms of the subtlety of its thinking and the quality of its descriptive prose, that at times possesses the lucidity of the northern light in which so much of it is set. I wish it very well indeed.” Sixty Degrees North is a deeply personal book and also a book of travel and culture, of history and natural history. The book explores some of the places that share the latitude of sixty degrees north – which include the author’s home in Shetland, but also Norway, Sweden, Finland and Greenland, the southern coast of Alaska and the great spaces of Russia and Canada The sixtieth parallel marks a borderland between the northern and southern worlds and Malachy Tallack focuses on the landscapes and natural environments along the parallel, and the ways that people have interacted with those landscapes. How has human history been influenced by the climate and by natural resources? How have people shaped and changed the land? What is the relationship between culture and place? Within the book, each location is explored through personal observations, interviews and encounters with local people, and references to historical and contemporary texts. These are woven together to create portraits of each place that are both intimate and illuminating. This is the sort of book which BBC Radio 4 listeners are sure to love and we are hoping for it to be a Book of the Week or Book at Bedtime – there is already review coverage lined up in the Guardian and there’s sure to be more. Sixty Degrees North: Around the World in Search of Home by Malachy Tallack (hb, 978 1846973369, £12.99) is published in July by Birlinn and you can order it and find out more here

After three non-fiction titles I think we’re now ready for a good old romantic, thoughtful, funny paperback – like something Jo Jo Moyes would write – and Close of Play by P J Whiteley is just such a story! It’s a tale of missed opportunities and a chance at redemption – and the fear of opening our hearts to another when we think we’ve forgotten how to love. Brian Clarke has an ordered life, a life of weekend cricket and solid principles. He is resolutely fending off advancing middle-age with a straight bat, determined to defend his wicket against life’s occasional fast balls. Then he meets Elizabeth – and as you might have guessed, he must reassess his self-defined role as the lone batsmen and fight to find the courage to fall in love. 
Close of Play (978 1909273528, £7.99, pb) is a funny and gentle story receiving a great deal of interest from women’s magazines and blogging sites, and the author and book are headlining this year’s Ampthill Literary Festival which you can read about here.  Close of Play is published this week by Urbane Publications and you can find out more and order it here.

And if that sounds a bit too light-hearted for you, then how about Fields of Blue Flax (pb, 978 1910449103, £8.99) by Sue Lawrence which is coming in May from Freight.  This is a gripping page-turner, with parallel stories 150 years apart by a leading food writer (and the first ever winner of BBC’s Masterchef) with a huge public following who has now turned her hand to fiction. Fields of Blue Flax is a fabulous evocation of the North East of Scotland in Victorian times and reveals how an innocent interest in genealogy brings a family to the brink of destruction. The two sisters at the centre of the novel find out in different ways that uncovering a family’s past can have unexpected and irrevocable consequences for those living in the present – this is a riveting tale of shocking scandal and buried secrets, and there is going to be a feature in the Sunday Telegraph on it on 3 May – terrific publicity!

Stand by Your Manhood: A Game Changer for Modern Men which was published last year by Biteback is currently being serialised over three days in the Daily Mail. The article begins: “Ridiculed, abused, exploited - the triumph of feminism has made today's men second class citizens” which gives you a pretty good idea of what the book is about! Its author Peter Lloyd goes on to argue that it’s high time the chaps fought back as although men are responsible for many great achievements they are currently getting a very raw deal. He claims men have been unfairly undermined by modern feminism and are currently doing more and  working harder than every before and getting none of the credit. This page has now been shared 8,300 times – and attracts 2,500 comments – typical example – “if you know someone who is male buy them this book now!!” – so this is clearly a subject close to the hearts of many! Don’t let the Daily Mail bookshop, or Amazon get all the sales for this deliciously provocative hardback (978 1849547437, £16.99) order up some copies now!

Compass is now on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. You’ll get the breaking news on our top titles even faster – and better still, we can find out what all of you lovely booksellers are up to – and re-tweet your news back to all of our publishers, editors and sales people! Happy days!
Here are some of our favourite Tweets from last week...
Buy books Read books Give away books Stroke books Sniff books Lick books Eat books You know, whatever makes you happy #WBN15
I recommend every man especially in the UK to read this book, Stand By Your Manhood, by Peter Lloyd
Behind the scenes at our #Poemoftheday selection process! Teetering piles of Carcanet poetry #bestjobintheworld
WOW - love this: "@prospect_uk: What would things be like if Steven Berkoff ruled the world? @urbanepub
It may not be English but some of it is set here and it is about a George! Perfect #StGeorgesDay reading George’s Grand Tour @gallicbooks
Get this book, Journeyman: better than the generic football autobiographies that u see #properinsight and top guy @bsmudger7

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

This blog is taken from a weekly newsletter sent to over 700 booksellers as well as 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.

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