Tuesday 27 June 2017

Compass Points 220

Theo Michaels was back on ITV’s breakfast show this week with his fabulous and fun summer microwave mug recipes. If you want to find out how to cook warm orzo and lemon chicken salad, chilli salmon and spinach salad and, one of his favourites, sea bass with fresh pea puree in 90 seconds (and frankly, who wouldn’t) then you can see all three recipes on This Morning here. And you can see even more of Theo’s brilliant microwave mug meal recipes on his own website here! All the recipes are from Microwave Mug Meals (£9.99, hb, 978 0754832850) which is published by Lorenz.

On July 27th, 2015, Colin Cremin overcame a lifetime of fear and repression and came to work dressed as a woman called Ciara. Man-Made Woman: The Dialectics of Cross-Dressing (pb, £16.99, 978-0745337128) charts her personal journey as a male-to-female cross-dresser in the ever-changing world of gender politics. Interweaving the personal and the political, through discussions of fetishism, aesthetics and popular culture, Man-Made Woman explores gender, identity and pleasure through the lenses of feminism, Marxism and psychoanalytic theory. Cremin's anti-moralistic approach makes this a very emancipatory and empowering read, where both author and reader are encouraged to examine their relationship to gender. One critic called this “a wonderful book, erudite, politically astute, brilliantly written, and at times wickedly funny. It's my favourite I've read for quite some time” and this feminist-Marxist analysis of being a crisscross-dresser set within the scathing critique of patriarchal-capitalism is sure to get plenty of publicity. It is published by Pluto in August, and if you would like to read a proof copy then please email Kieran O'Connor at kierano@plutobooks.com

Talking of outdated gender stereotyping in popular culture, I think you will very much enjoy looking at these seriously outdated vintage advertisements!

Any novel set in the Houses of Parliament is probably onto A Good Thing I feel, as it has provided the location for many a memorable moment – most recently perhaps, THAT scene in Apple Tree Yard.  Among my personal favourite fictional political characters are Hugh Grant as the PM in Love Actually; Alan B'Stard played by Rik Mayall; all the cast of Yes Minister; Frances Urquhart; Malcolm Tucker; Harriet Jones played by Penelope Wilton and Harold Saxon (aka The Master) played by John Simm in Dr Who; and the prime minister in Ian McEwan's The Child in Time whose name I can’t remember. Any more? This leads me neatly to a new arrival in this genre; The Threat Level Remains Severe (pb, £8.99, 978 1910709153) which shines a sly light into the backrooms and office romances of the corridors of power by an author who currently works there! You can find out more about her inspiration for the book here.  There will be an interview with Rowena Macdonald in the Femail section of the Daily Mail on Saturday 8th July and this Sunday (2 July) Rowena will be featuring in the One Day slot in the Sunday Telegraph magazine, Stella. This is a full page of promotion – terrific publicity for this stylish, acutely observed contemporary drama, published next week by Gallic.

A few weeks ago; we talked about the Chemsex Monologues, and this week we tell you about Something for the Weekend: Life in the Chemsex Underworld (pb, £12.99, 978 1785902291) coming from Biteback on 27 July. When James Wharton left the army, he found himself with more opportunities than most to begin a successful civilian life; a husband, two dogs, two cars, a nice house in the countryside and a book deal. But a year later he found himself alone, living in one room and trying to adjust to single gay life back in the capital. In his search for new friends and potential lovers, he became sucked into London's gay drug culture, soon becoming addicted to partying and the phenomenon that is 'chemsex’. Exploring his own journey through this dark but popular world, James looks at the motivating factors that led him to the culture, as well as examining the paths taken by others. He reveals the real goings-on at the weekends for thousands of people after most have gone to bed, and how modern technology allows them to arrange, congregate, furnish themselves with drugs and spend hours, often days, behind closed curtains, with strangers and in states of heightened sexual desire. Something for the Weekend looks compassionately at a growing culture that's now moved beyond London and established itself as more than a short-term craze. As our sales team have reported, the jacket of this book is certainly not for the more conservative or timid booksellers among you  but as they always do, Biteback have definitely tapped into a growing trend, and there will be a market for this title.

Yuri Herrera was tipped in the Critic’s Picks for the Summer Books of 2017 in the Financial Times this week as one of "two of the best writers working today: unsentimental, clear-eyed witnesses in troubling times" You can see that whole piece here.  The book they were recommending was Kingdom Cons (pb, £8.99, 978 1908276926) which has just been published by And Other Stories. Part surreal fable and part noir romance, this prize-winning novel in which a penniless street musician swears an oath of loyalty to a powerful Mexican drug baron, questions the price of keeping your integrity in a world ruled by patronage and power.  The New York Times called it "short, suspenseful . . . outlandish and heartbreaking."

A drug baron usually makes pretty memorable fictional villain – or sometimes even hero. Who’s top of the pile? Walter White? Tony Montana? Have a look here at a pictorial line up of fifteen of the most ruthless and powerful, from The Wire to 21 Jump Street. And here are WatchMojo’s Top Ten Movie Drug Dealers – they so shouldn’t be cool, but some of them so are!

How to manage childhood anxiety is a growing concern for many. Dr Suzanne Barret and Dr Fiona Zandt, the authors of Creative Ways to Help Children Manage Big Feelings (pb, £19.99, 978 1785920745) which has just been published by Jessica Kingsley; spoke recently about the issue on a podcast here. This ingeniously easy-to-use therapy toolkit helps children to stay on top of "big" feelings like anger, sadness and anxiety and provides activities using everyday materials and a variety of tried-and-tested therapy models. With its winning mix of creative resources and clinical expertise, all wrapped up in a simple and practical format, this is the ideal companion for those working with children aged 4-12.

How many of you are secretly budding crime writers who dream of giving up your day job and plunging into the fickle world of publishing? Charles E McGarry’s was one such would-be author and in his thirties, he gave up a well-paid job as a business analyst with BT to concentrate on writing. He received one rejection after another from agents and publishers and some fourteen years later, his tale is finally being published next week by Polygon. You can hear all about his journey from the bedroom to the bookshelf on a brilliant 6-part podcast which you can find at www.debutpodcast.com. It includes interviews with two of the biggest names in Scottish crime writing, Val McDermid and Chris Brookmyre, who offer advice to McGarry on his fledgling literary career as well as many entertaining insights into the journey to publication. The Ghost of Helen Addison (pb, £7.88, 978 1846973796) was featured in the Bookseller’s Editor’s Choice, and there have also been pieces about it in Scotland on Sunday, the Daily Record and in the Scotsman here.  Charles’ editor at Polygon loved how the novel’s protagonist, private detective Leo Moran, was not the conventional divorcee, alcoholic detective with the empty fridge; but an avowed gourmand and wine connoisseur who enjoys the pleasures of life to the hilt in the splendid isolation of his West End apartment! However, he becomes increasingly unsettled by his visions of violent crimes, and after the ritualistic murder of a young woman in Argyll, he helps the police, meeting a host of strange and colourful characters along the way, including her ghost…

The Book of Khartoum (pb, £9.99, 978 1905583720) which was published in April by Comma, is back in the spotlight, as one of the stories featured by Sudanese author Bushra al-Fadil; The Story of the Girl whose Birds Flew Away; has been shortlisted for The Caine Prize for African Writing. It is only the second translation from Arabic in the prize’s 18-year history. The story was translated into English for the first time by co-editor Max Shmookler, with support from Najlaa Osman Eltom. He is joined on the shortlist by Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria), Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria), Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) and Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa). The Book of Khartoum was the first major collection of Sudanese short stories in English translation, and you can read al-Fadil’s shortlisted story in full here. There are reading and events across London promoting the prize next week which you can find out about here and the winner of the prize will be announced on Monday 3rd July. Comma have had quite a run of awards recently – you can find out more on their news pages here.  

In yet another week where the world appears to be ever more bonkers, I think it’s time for some more headlines from The Daily Mash …

  • Passionate crowd of about 15 people broke into chants of 'Oh, Andrea Leadsom' at a village fete in Northamptonshire yesterday
  • Tesco launches pre-binned bagged salad
  • Remainer celebrates one year of feeling morally superior
  • EU Brexit secretary David Davis is on his way home from Brussels after Google abolished the European Union.
  • Parenting 'a doddle', confirms aunt who has been babysitting for half an hour
  • May hoping for 'constructive relationship' with creationist homophobes who think Pope is Satan
  • Glastonbury massive media coverage welcomed by Britain's top letches
  • Please stay while we savour your humiliation, Britain tells May
  • Researchers discover only British actor who hasn't been in Doctor Who
  • Robots are enjoying the May-Hammond rapport
  • Corbyn to perform Labour manifesto on 50-date stadium tour
  • My idiot sons could run this country better than you, the Queen tells May
  • Third bottle of wine 'always a bad idea for wide variety of reasons', say experts
That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This blog is taken from a newsletter which is 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 talk to your Compass Sales Manager, or call the office on 020 8326 5696.

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