Friday 15 January 2016

Compass Points 154

The enquiry into the death of Alexander Litvenenko will be published next week on Thursday 21 January. This is expected to be dynamite, and Gibson Square is releasing an updated edition of their paperback Blowing Up Russia to coincide with this event. It has a new foreward, and this is the book that in effect condemned Alexander to death. The co-author Yuri Felshtinsky was one of the last people to speak to Litvenenko on his death bed hours before he succumbed to radioactive poisoning by Polonium 210. The first edition of this book was a big bestseller – with extraordinary reviews: “A book that should contain a very serious health warning on the cover” Andrew Marr; “Crucially important” The Sunday Times; “Frightening” Sunday Telegraph; “A pull-no-punches exposé” The Independent and “For clues as to who wanted Alexander Litvenenko, you need look no farther” The Times – so I think there will be big demand for this new edition.  Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Power by Alexander Litvenenko and Yuri Felshtinsky (pb, £9.99, 978 1908096234) is available now.

While we’re on the subject of Russia, burning books you don’t agree with is now apparently “a thing” - read the story on Buzzfeed here

How’s the January diet going? No too good? Well how’s this for a radical idea – you don’t actually go on a diet – you just believe you are on one – and the power of your mind will make you slim! The placebo effect occurs when we have an absolute belief that something will work, which generates a feeling so powerful that it changes our physiology, often spontaneously and a new book, The Placebo Diet incorporates a range of psychological techniques that it claims can change the structure of your thoughts towards food, generating brand new beliefs and habits. Its author, life coach and nutritionist Janet Thomson explains that the key to losing weight is not calorie-counting but identifying and re-shaping your attitudes towards your body – yes, you really can think yourself slim! This book is getting a lot of publicity: it featured in the February issue of Woman’s Own and will also be in Bella, The Sun, OK! and there will be an article in the Daily Telegraph on 29 February. The Placebo Diet by Janet Thomson is published by Hay House in February (pb, £12.99 978 1781806654)

Fancy being an author? Think you might get paid more than you would as a bookseller? Not necessarily – read this article  from today’s Bookseller blog which compares the disparity between rich and poor authors as being like something out of Tsarist Russia!

Last week we had a graphic novelisation of Proust – and as if to prove that the comic strip format can be used for anything; this week we have a graphic novel based on the seminal indie band The Smiths! This comic book retelling by Con Chrisoulis covers the band members’ teenage years, before the group was famous, and includes fascinating digressions about their influences (Sex Pistols, NY punk, Patti Smith, etc) and the times in which they were growing up. The story reaches its climax with the meeting of Morrissey and Marr, the formation of the band in 1982 and their first gig as The Smiths. Here’s a little two minute film of Con chatting about the film, and showing some of the spreads from the book. The Smiths have a massive fan base – and this book is genuinely interesting – and fun! Tales of the Smiths: A Graphic Biography by Con Chrisoulis (pb, 978 1783055876, £24.95) is published by Omnibus Press in February and you can order it here!

Who would have thought that both David Bowie and Alan Rickman would both have been referenced in the very same Simpsons episode! Have a watch here - The scene originally aired in February 2013 during the episode 'Love is a Many-Splintered Thing'.

Like it or loathe it, 2016 is going to be another footie filled year. There will be lots of lavish glossy guides to Euro 2016; but at the end of the day, never mind the sponsors and the money men – football is really for those who truly love it. Euro 2016: the Ultimate Fan’s Guide by Lloyd Pettiford and Ronan Fitzsimons is written by fans for the fans. As well as a guide to the sixteen teams and superstars on display, there are features on the mascots, the stadiums and the draw, city guides and cultural advice, as well as mad facts, quizzes, a tournament guide and predictions. Irreverent yet knowledgeable this is a true fans guide to the tournament, and the perfect companion, whether travelling to the matches or watching from your armchair. This paperback is both knowledgeable and highly entertaining.  Euro 2016: the Ultimate Fan’s Guide (pb, £7.99 978 1910692097) is published by Urbane in April and you can find out more here.

Who has heard of Jean Batten? Nope, me neither. But back in the in the 1930s she was an international icon, breaking records as one of the world's greatest aviators; glamorous, daring and mysterious. There’s a bit of a vogue for fiction based on early 20th century real-life characters (e.g. The Paris Wife) and The Infinite Air by Fiona Kidman is an enthralling novel which tells the story of ‘the Garbo of the skies’ giving a fascinating insight into the early days of flying, of mothers and daughters, fame and secrecy. Its author, Fiona Kidman is well known in her native New Zealand, where she has been made a Dame and awarded an OBE for services to literature, and I think this inspirational true-life story of an adventurous, trailblazing woman should do very well when it is published in the UK by Aardvark Bureau in March. You can order The Infinite Air by Fiona Kidman (pb, 978 1910709085 £9.99) here.

Here’s a very evocative five minute film all about Jean Batten which gives you a real feel for the times in which she flew!

“Nothing will ever compare to the amphetamine rush of my young life and the night I was nearly buggered by my girlfriend’s uncle in the Potteries.” Now that’s what I call a good opening line! Young Soul Rebels is a personal and compelling history of Northern Soul, by Stuart Cosgrove, an award-winning broadcaster with Channel 4 who also hosts Scotland’s most popular radio show, Off the Ball. Young Soul Rebels draws on his personal experience and those of many northern soul diehards and immerses the reader in an atmospheric world of amphetamine-fuelled all-nighters, heaving dance floors and obsessive collecting. The book sweeps across fifty years of British life and places the northern soul scene in a social context – the rise of amphetamine culture, the policing of youth culture, the north–south divide, the decline of coastal Britain, the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry, the rise of Thatcherism, the miners’ strike, the rave scene and music in the era of the world wide web. Books have been written about northern soul before but never with the same erudition and passion. Northern Soul is now Britain’s longest lasting subculture, and Cosgrove’s most recent book, Detroit ’67, is a cult bestseller. Young Soul Rebels by Stuart Cosgrove is published by Polygon in March (pb, 978 1846973338, £14.99)

To finish as usual with a bit of music, here is one fan's choices of the top ten Northern Soul classics! Keep the faith as Paul O’Grady would say!

And if that’s not your cup of tea – then how about James Corden and Adele – with their brilliant versions of the Spice Girls and Nicki Minaj! A-May-Zing!

That’s all for now folks! More next week!

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