Friday 15 May 2015

Compass Points 126

Well, this week we at Compass Towers have all temporarily been holed up in a hotel in Ealing (oh the glamour) hearing from our lovely publishers about the goodies they have in store for us this autumn! And what a cornucopia of delights it has tuned out to be! Here is a sneak preview to get you salivating!

From Scott Pack and his new imprint Aardvark Bureau we have two thought provoking novels – When the Professor Got Stuck in the Snow by Dan Rhodes, (which you may recall we have previously mentioned – it’s the somewhat controversial title starring Richard Dawkins – the Guardian called it a “zippy little farce”) and also The Miner  by Natsume Sōseki, one of the greats of Japanese literature (translated by Jay Rubin) which tells the story of a young man who leaves Tokyo on foot following a disastrous love affair and is recruited to work in a copper mine. Comma Press told us all about an intriguing collection entitled Forty Five Years: Selected Stories by David Constantine – one story has been made into a new film starring Charlotte Rampling which comes out in September. Gallic were very excited (as are we) about the new Muriel Barbery (author of the Elegance of the Hedgehog) novel: Life of Elves
How's this for a contentious bit of publishing – Red Planet is are bringing out a title entitled God Save the Queen – to tie-in with the date in Autumn when the Queen (God willing) will become the longest serving monarch in history. However, the Red Planet title is not a reverential tribute to our magnificent monarch – but a totally irreverent look at the history of the iconic Sex Pistols single! This is going to be huge – there is a lot to say about this extraordinary song and the impression it made on the public when it was first released in 1977 (which of course was the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee). Here’s the video to remind you! One and a half million people in the UK are involved in five-a-side footie every week – and in celebration of them, Freight are bringing out the Five-a-Side Bible – a miscellany of fact, figures and entertaining info about this massively popular game – which may well be the must-have dads and lads gift book for this Christmas! 
Which small town in Wales has given us over fifty great actors? Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins, Michael Sheen and Rob Brydon:  all came from Port Talbot! The Actor’s Crucible is a hardback coming from Parthian which explores this extraordinary phenomenon. If you like gothic thrillers – and the novels of Mervyn Peake, then you’ll definitely be looking forward to The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb – a novel coming from Urbane. And if that sounds far too frightening for you then you might prefer Angels Whisper in my Ear – by the UK’s youngest “Angel Communicator” – Kyle Gray – published (who else!) by Hay House. Post election, everyone’s favourite political commentators Biteback bring us Call Me Dave – an unofficial biography of our leader – written by Lord Ashcroft, together with sassy journo Isabel Oakeshott. Btw, if you haven’t yet seen the brilliant Cassetteboy’s most recent David Cameron rap then you really should! Carcanet are bringing us the Collected Poems of Muriel Spark, and Enitharmon have a marvellous collection of poems by the dissident Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. If this name is unfamiliar to you – then here’s a couple of minutes of archive footage which gives you a fascinating update. 
Talking of dissidents; Forty Six have a new title from Murong entitled Through the Red Dust. His writing deals mostly with social issues in contemporary China, exploring themes such as corruption, censorship, business-government relations, and general disillusionment over modern life; and his literature is known for its nihilistic, realist, racy, and fatalist style. Gibson Square have a cracking title which will appeal those many readers who love those collections of letters to the Times and Telegraph. But this is a book of letters with a twist – entitled Make Do and Send, it is an assortment of letters of protest written to the authorities about the rationing after WWII. They are very funny – and give you a real feel about the frustrations of the ordinary men and women who still had to do without many of life’s basics even though we had won the war! 
Lots of you are doing extremely well with Wanna Cook – the companion to Breaking Bad from Myrmidon; and the same publisher is bringing you Investigating Sherlock – an entertaining trawl through all the episodes in Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the renowned detective.  As you may know, Benedict’s fans (the self-titled Cumberbitches) are both enthusiastic and plentiful – and this book is most definitely for them! 
Birlinn are bringing us a lovely compilation of love stories from the ever popular Alexander McCall Smith – similar in feel to the very successful Trains and Lovers, this is a charming collection. McCall Smith has used as his starting point some old sepia photos of unknown couples – and imagined the stories behind them. Two very different historical titles – Arcturus have a lavish hardback History of Maps and Plexus have Manly Manners – which is a republished Etiquette guide from the 1960’s – very odd and very funny! And finally, Periscope’s lead title is The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami which comes with a glowing endorsement from Salaman Rushdie – and was one of Wall Street Journal Top Ten Books of the Year. Phew – plenty to look forward to this Autumn I think!

And now onto books you can order now – as we said above, new novels from Alexander McCall Smith are always a treat and a couple are coming up this summer! The Revolving Door of Life is the tenth titles in the hugely successful 44 Scotland Street series and in fact its publication makes Scotland Street the longest running serial novel (they are published in the Scotsman) in the world! Over 120,000 copies have been sold of this fantastic series and once more, in The Revolving Door of Life we catch up with the delightful goings-on in the fictitious street. 
With customary charm and deftness, Alexander McCall Smith gives us another instalment where anything could happen to Bertie and the gang!  I absolutely love the whimsical and witty style of the jackets for this series. The Revolving Door of Life by Alexander McCall Smith (hb, £16.99, 978 1846973284) is published by Polygon in August and you can find out more and order it here.

And don’t forget about the new children’s book from McCall Smith; Precious and the Zebra Necklace (hb, £9.99 978 1780273273) which is out from Birlinn in July. Precious Ramotswe’s early years (long before she founded her Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency) as a precocious detective continues in the fourth book in this delightful series. When 8 year old Precious finds out that all her school friend Nancy has of her missing parents is a photograph and a necklace; she offers to help. The two intrepid girls quickly find themselves on an exciting adventure that takes them into the remotest parts of Botswana in their search for Nancy's family. You have now sold over 16,000 copies of Precious and the Monkeys in its hardback editions, and again these covers for this series are terrific! The previous three titles are now all available in paperback: Precious and the Monkeys (pb, £6.99, 978 1846973208), Precious and the Mystery of Meerkat Hill (pb, £6.99, 978 1846972546), Precious and the Missing Lion (pb, £6.99 978 1846973185) and you can order the new hardback of Precious and the Zebra Necklace here!

Long Time No See by Hannah Lowe is a poignant memoir, which speaks eloquently of love and its absence, regret and compassion, and the struggle to know oneself. Subtitled, A Memoir of Fathers, Daughters and Games of Chance; this title takes us into the vivid world of Hannah Lowe’s father “Chick”, a half-Chinese, half Jamaican immigrant, who worked long hours at night to support his family – except Chick was no ordinary working man. A legendary gambler, he would vanish into the shadows of East London to win at cards or dice, returning in daylight to greet the daughter whose love and respect he courted. Lowe calls forth the unstable world of card sharps, confidence men and small-time criminals, mixed with scenes of racially charged and often plain intolerant Essex life in the 80s, with flashbacks to a Jamaica that itself was a curry of social tensions. Yet this memoir is quiet, gently paced, redolent with insight and questioning and told with an impressive generosity of spirit. This hugely satisfying read is as good for the soul as it is soulful. Long Time No See by Hannah Lowe (pb, 978 1859643969, £9.99) is published by Periscope in July and you can find out more and order it here.

Will Long Time No See be added to the list of all time great novels with a gambling theme do we think? And what would be our top ten? Well, I’d start with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Casino Royale, The Dice Man and Dostoyevsky’s The Gambler perhaps – any more suggestions?

Who fancies an intelligent and compelling historical novel with a cast that includes Julius Caesar, Octavian, Mark Antony, Horace, Cassius Longinus, Cleopatra and Herod the Great? Definitely me, and so will all those readers who enjoy Robert Harris, Robert Graves, James Clavell and Hilary Mantel. The Horse Changer by Craig Smith (978 1910183137, pb, £8.99) is a new novel from Myrmidon coming in July. Set in Rome, 46 BC a young Tuscan knight, Quintus Dellius, secures the patronage of the youngest of his generals, the dissolute Cornelius Dolabella. But when his hero is assassinated the Roman republic is plunged into chaos as both his heirs and enemies jostle for power. In the civil wars that follow, Dellius is soon caught up in a maelstrom of shifting allegiances and the young soldier will need to discover reserves of both tenacity and ruthlessness if he is to survive. As he journeys from the orgiastic salons of Rome’s Palatine Hill to the Palaces of Alexandria, the rocky fortresses of Judea and the bloody field of Philippi, he manages to incur the enmity both of Egypt’s queen and Rome’s future emperor, but also to snare the affections of a beautiful and cunning young senator’s wife, Livia Drusilla…. Well, I don’t know about you, but this is strongly reminding me of one of my all time favourite films, from which you can see a clip below! Author Craig Smith has previously been shortlisted for the CWA Steel Dagger award for Best Thriller for his title Cold Rain – and this is more gripping stuff!

Who out there was Born in the 70’s? Well whether you are claiming to be far too old or far too young – you and your customers will certainly enjoy this a stroll down memory lane: a fabulous collection of photographs of Britain in the 1970s;  that fast-changing decade which saw a steady rise in living standards, the introduction of package tours abroad, far too many oranges and browns in home furnishings, bottles of Blue Nun, spacehoppers, Bagpuss and Curlie-Wurlies, prawn cocktails and avocados, colour TV, Kevin Keegan's perm, the Nolan Sisters, Abba, Edward Heath & Harold Wilson, Arthur Scargill and Maggie Thatcher! Born in the 70’s by Tim Glynne-Jones (hb, 978 1784047450, £6.99) contains over 90 photographs accompanied by a witty and moving commentary describing a fascinating decade which saw a whole nation taking to faded denim as miners manned the barricades and inflation topped 30%. The Seventies marked the beginning of Women's Liberation, and topics covered in this nostalgia fest also include punk, popular perms of the time, Bay City Rollers fans and the introduction of decimal currency. This is the latest in a great little series of gift hardback titles – you can see Born in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s on the blog - guaranteed to produce a golden glow in every reader! Born in the 70’s is coming from Arcturus in August and you can find out more and order it here.

And just to put you in the right frame of mind to place an order – here’s a brilliant 16 mins which takes you through the top 100 selling singles of the whole of the 1970’s – love it!

Compass is now on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Here are some of our favourite Tweets from last week...
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” ― Groucho Marx
Thanks @CompassIPS - always get such positive feedback on the books. Here's to a great second half to the year!!
Our 'Independent Book of the Month' for May is Boxes by Pascal Garnier from @gallicbooks Have you read it?
What do we wante? Latyn! Whanne do we wante yt? Nunc!
Well done Sue Lawrence - Fields of Blue Flax @FreightBooks is Scottish Book of the Month of the month at @BlackwellEdin! @scottishbooks
Today #biketoworkday Check out our fab Cycling related range here @BluffersGuide

And finally; never let it be said that Compass gives you booksellers titles you don’t actually want … but this Facebook post on the day following the election from our friends at the Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham made us laugh. A lot.
That’s all for now folks, more next week!

This blog is taken from a newsletter sent weekly 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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