Friday 28 July 2017

Compass Points 224

Congratulations to Birlinn on their 25th anniversary, and a great piece in the Bookseller today to celebrate! You can read the whole thing on their website but here are some highlights!

"Scottish independent publisher Birlinn is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Established in 1992, the publisher has sought to create a “truly national cultural conversation”. And with a publishing programme that crosses five imprints, it also has UK-wide and international reach, publishing both new and established writers. The company was founded by managing director Hugh Andrew, then a freelance sales rep who was keen to try his hand at publishing. “As a rep, much of my travel took me to places and people who kept telling me that if only they had a reprint of ‘x’ or ‘y’, they could sell it,” Andrew says. “I tried to interest the publishers [I represented] in the titles mentioned but did not get very far. So, I decided to publish them myself.” Starting off with four books (two which are still in print), the publisher now has some 800-900 titles in print, and publishes 160 titles a year. With 24 part-time and full-time staff, Andrew says: “I don’t think we can be beaten for quality, reach and market knowledge, particularly in Scottish non-fiction.”

Last year, Birlinn sold 234,180 books for £2.54m, according to Nielsen BookScan, with its bestselling title, 101 Gins to Try Before You Die by Ian Buxton, shifting 20,954 copies. Among the highlights forthcoming from the publisher this year are new books from international bestseller Alexander McCall Smith and the “new Scottish master of crime”, Denzil Meyrick. Birlinn really prides itself on its relationships with booksellers across the country, and we will be working closely with them, as ever, on promotional tables, displays, windows and events”, Andrew adds. Discussing the biggest challenges the publisher has weathered in its 25 years, Andrew says the “steady erosion” of independent booksellers and suppliers, as well as Amazon and price predation, have been big concerns. Despite this, he is pleased to have seen the Birlinn team grow and evolve, adding: “Today the entire Birlinn family is justifiably proud of what has been achieved.”

Great to see a bookseller on the longlist for this year’s £50,000 Man Booker Prize! Fiona Mozley, aged 29, who works at the Little Apple Bookshop in York, has been longlisted for her novel Elmet (published by John Murray), a book about family as well as a meditation on landscape in South Yorkshire. The bookshop, whose staff didn't know her title had been put forward for the prize, called it "fantastic news" and we totally agree! You can see the full list of thirteen titles in the Bookseller here. Congrats Fiona!

Last week we mentioned one of Galileo’s new Rucksack Editions featuring Wordsworth’s poetry, and this week it is the turn of Edward Thomas. A Miscellany edited by Anna Stenning (pb, £9.99, 978 1903385609) which has just had an excellent review in the Sunday Express who called it: "a superb anthology … Thomas was an observant traveller through the countryside of Edwardian England, and with its deep tranquillity and birdsong, the England Thomas explored was another country. This is a proper travel book, complete with rounded corners to fit in pocket or rucksack." Readers are also extremely enthusiastic online about this lovely edition saying “really interesting – and a most readable selection from both his prose and poetry. An attractive design (also with some nice illustrations), obviously intended to stand up to the rigours of being taken with the reader into the great outdoors. Much recommended.” And bestselling author John Lewis-Stempel called it: "An utterly brilliant anthology (and brilliant anthologies are rare things)".

And here is Richard Burton reading what is one of Thomas’s most famous nature poems, Adlestrop.

A fabulous review for Arena Sport’s The European Game: The Secrets of European Football Success (£14.99, pb, 978 1909715486) which you can read here on the popular footie website ESDF Analysis. “As we all know, it can be extremely hard for any form of media to live up to expectations when you have been looking forward to something for a long time. This book not only met my expectations, it far surpassed them … I have read a lot of football books over the years but this one is now firmly entrenched as my favourite, I have no doubt that I will return to read again and again. If you have not yet then I would strongly urge you to purchase this book confident that you will not regret the decision. Well written and fantastically well researched the level of insight in to each club is superb.”

Happy Birthday to John Ashbery who celebrates his 90th birthday! To congratulate him, the Guardian Poem of the Week is one of his early translations of Jean Baptiste-Chassignet's six sonnets, included in Carcanet’s Collected French Poetry (pb, £19.95, 978 1 847772 34 3) which reflects both a long and rich life, and John Ashbery’s lifelong engagement with French poetry. John Ashbery is recognized as one of the greatest twentieth-century American poets. He has won nearly every major American award for poetry, including the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, the Yale Younger Poets Prize, the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Griffin International Award, and a MacArthur “Genius” Grant.  Ashbery's poetry challenges its readers to discard all presumptions about the aims, themes, and style of verse in favour of a literature that reflects upon the limits of language and the volatility of consciousness. Writing in the TLS, Stephen Burt declared: “Ashbery seems more contemporary, more topical, now than when he started writing, though the culture has changed around him more than he has changed: he has become the poet of our multi-tasking, interruption-filled, and entertainment-seeking days.” John Ashbery: Collected Poems 1990 - 2000 (£20, pb, 978 1784105259) will be published by Carcanet in January 2018.

Here is Ashbery reading his best-known poem, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (pb, £9.95, 978 1857549065). One of the most significant poetic achievements of our time, it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics' Circle Award upon its publication in 1976. 

And here he is talking to Time magazine about fame, poverty, art criticism and why he hates the sound of his own voice.

Whether it's an unforeseen financial crash, a shock election result or a washout summer that threatens to ruin a holiday in the sun, forecasts are part and parcel of our everyday lives. We rely wholeheartedly on them, and become outraged when things don't go exactly to plan. But should we really put so much trust in predictions? Perhaps gut instincts can trump years of methodically compiled expert knowledge? And when exactly is a forecast not a forecast? A new myth-busting guide to prediction just out from Biteback, answers all of these questions, and many more. Packed with fun anecdotes and startling facts; Forewarned: A Sceptics Guide to Prediction by Paul Goodwin (pb, £12.99, 978 1785902222) is based on the latest scientific research and lays out the many ways forecasting can help us make better decisions in an unpredictable modern world. It reveals when forecasts can be a reliable guide to the uncertainties of the future and when they are definitely best ignored!

Here's a most amusing compilation of predictions from some of the world's most successful, intelligent people – all of which turned out to be spectacularly, categorically, 100% wrong!

I love it when authors make little promo videos for their books, and here's a lovely one for Joyride to Jupiter (pb, £9.99 978 1848406155) a new short story collection from award-winning author Nuala O'Connor. With prose both lyrical and profound, the these are urgent and humane stories of ill-advised couplings, loneliness and burgeoning hope, full of O’ Connor’s trademark humour and sensuality, and the quest for longed-for truths. A truly stunning collection by one of Ireland’s finest writers, it’s just been published by New Island.

As you may have spotted in the Bookseller, the "revealing" political autobiography of Wales' First Minister Rhodri Morgan is set to be released by University of Wales Press in September, following his sad and sudden death aged 77 this spring while cycling in the lanes near his home. The book promises to recount Morgan's turbulent relationship with Tony Blair and those running the New Labour project, along with the party establishment’s campaign to prevent him becoming Labour leader in Wales, despite being the choice of party members and union members. The open and honest memoir also features stories on Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson, Neil Kinnock, John Prescott, Margaret Thatcher, Jeremy Paxman, and Jilly Cooper, among many others. Its publisher said: "From the master of the colourful soundbite, this is the fast-paced, highly amusing, inside story of the decade leading up to the creation of the Welsh Assembly and the first ten years of that institution’s history. The book is an entertaining and candid account of Morgan's sometimes turbulent, often controversial, but never boring, political life. Rhodri’s warmth, wit and down to earth manner was unusual for the straight-talking and politically gifted mind behind it – something that colleagues at the Press greatly enjoyed and admired him for. Rhodri’s character shines through in his writing, providing a stimulating narrative through the fascinating and eye-opening stories he shares of his experiences and run-ins throughout his political career. The University of Wales Press is both proud and grateful to have captured Rhodri’s legacy, and this unique book is tribute and testament to Wales’s first First Minister, the father of Welsh devolution." Rhodri: A Political Life in Wales and Westminster (hb, £24.99, 978 1786831477) will be published on 24th September to coincide with Labour’s Annual Conference in Brighton. There’s certain to be more publicity to come for this one!

The latest episode of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature Podcast is available to download here and in this month’s episode, Vikki and Kristian are talking myths and fairy tales, with special reference to Naomi Mitchison’s Travel Light. The podcast also includes an interview with Joan Lennon reading the opening of her new YA novel Walking Mountain (pb, £6.99, 9781780274560) which has just been published by Birlinn. Undiscovered Scotland said of it that “it is perhaps inevitable that any book that can be described by the phrase "epic quest" evokes comparisons with The Hobbit, and it's a comparison which is entirely justified in terms of the way the world Joan Lennon has created draws the reader in and keeps you completely enthralled. This is a great book we'd strongly recommend to the young reader or readers in your life” while the Herald wrote: “Another compelling futuristic story, fantastic and baroque. Lennon's world is laced with captivating detail, from the strange animals, gows and marmoldes, to the extraordinary figure at the heart of the story, The Meteor Driver.”

John Fleming and Hugh Honour: Remembered by Susanna Johnston (hb, £20, 978 1783341115) is the first memoir on these bestselling giants of art history, who died last year and has just been published by Gibson Square. This candid and funny memoir seasoned with their eccentricities and humour, is full of delightful gossipy detail about these great English aesthetes and eccentrics who lived in Tuscany. They were the last living giants of art history known to all students and lovers of art, sculpture and architecture through their authoritative and bestselling books, in particular A World History of Art. There was a Country Life review on 19 Jul, and there have also been pieces in the Oldie, Literary Review, the Spectator, The Lady and the Daily Mail.

Who doesn’t love a literary cartoon! I  love this  from the Guardian’s fab Tom Gauld on the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death!

In between dodging the showers and beating off the wasps, lots of us will be trying to eat outside in our gardens as much as possible this summer! In recent years, one of the biggest trends in al fresco dining has been the rise of the outdoor oven – and sales of the excellent Lorenz title Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook by Holly and David Jones (hb, £9.99, 978 1903141946) have also risen accordingly! This bestselling cookbook contains 70 recipes for incredible stone-baked pizzas and breads, roasts, cakes and desserts, all specially devised for the outdoor oven and illustrated in over 400 photographs. It offers everything you need to know about cooking in a wood-fired oven, from lighting a fire to recipes, menu suggestions and timing guides. Whether you want your oven to become a pizza party sensation, the centre of cookout weekends or your new outdoor kitchen, this book is an inspiration. There was a great blog piece on it on the popular food blog Eating Covent Garden which you can see here – lots of delectable pics from the book are featured!

A sobering piece on the BBC website here as Detroit recalls the five days of violent unrest fifty years ago that left twenty-four people dead and more than a thousand injured. As the director of the Detroit Historical Museum says: "Detroit's story is America's story" – don’t forget about the superb Birlinn title on this subject Detroit 67: The Year That Changed Soul by Stuart Cosgrove (pb, £9.99, 978 1846973666). This title is the second in a “Soul Trilogy” from Stuart that started with Young Soul Rebels: A Personal History of Northern Soul (pb, £9.99, 978 1846973932) and will culminate in Memphis 68: The Tragedy of Southern Soul (hb, £16.99, 978 1846973734) which is published in October. 
The book opens with the death of the city's most famous recording artist, Otis Redding, who died in a plane crash in the final days of 1967, and then follows the fortunes of Redding's label, Stax Records, as its fortunes fall and rise again. But, as the tense year unfolds, the city dominates world headlines for the worst of reasons: the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this book in future Compass Points for sure – but for now let’s end by watching a live recording of the great man himself, from that pivotal year in soul music history.

Compass Points is away next week! Next newsletter and blog post out on 11 August!

This blog is taken from an e-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.

Friday 21 July 2017

Compass Points 223

The UK is set to go crazy for Cezanne this autumn, when the major exhibition of his portraits that is currently on in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris transfers to London’s National Portrait Gallery from 26 October to 11 February 2018 before it moves to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Lorenz have an excellent book on this artist by Suzie Hodge. Cezanne: His Life and Work in 500 Images (hb, £16.99, 978 0754823131) is a gorgeous book exploring this fascinating artist who changed the world of art and inspired future painters such as Picasso and Matisse, who said of Cezanne that he was "the father of us all." See a couple of spreads below – it is packed with interesting info and beautiful pictures. And a heads up that from 2 November 2017 to 7th May 2018, Tate Britain are running a major exhibition entitled Impressionists in London, French artists in Exile. This focuses a lot on Monet's paintings that he did in London, and Lorenz also have the perfect accompanying title for this: Monet: His Life and Work in 500 Images (hb, £16.99, 978 0754819530) – all in the paintings in the exhibition are in the book!

And if you want to remind yourself of the genius that was Cezanne – then this evoactive ten-minute trip through his work is a pretty good place to start!

There have been some terrific reviews recently for Patty Yumi Cottrell's beguiling debut Sorry to Disrupt the Peace (pb, £10, 978 1911508007) which was published in May by And Other Stories“Electrifying in its freshness . . . equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking” said The Observer, “Blackly comic and sophisticated . . . the memorable impact of Sorry to Disturb the Peace . . . comes from what lurks unsaid” said The Spectator and there have also been pieces in the Irish Times, The Skinny Buzz Magazine and you can read an interview with Patty Yumi Cottrell here in the Guardian.

As we welcome back Game of Thrones to our screens, I wonder if you are seeing an upsurge in sales of the book? Or is Lord of the Rings still the bookseller’s bread and butter bestseller? I found this Epic Rap Battle between the two very funny!

Sammy is a spiky teenager living in Dublin, Nico is a warm and conscientious girl from Moldova. When they are thrown together in a Dublin brothel in a horrific twist of fate, a peculiar and important bond is formed. Harvesting (£11.99, pb, 978 1848405974) is a novel about a flourishing but hidden world, thinly concealed beneath a veneer of normality and was inspired by author Lisa Harding’s involvement with a campaign against sex trafficking run by the Children’s Rights Alliance. Heartbreaking and funny, gritty and raw; it is about the failings of polite society, the bluster of youth and the often appalling weakness of adults, where redemption is found in friendship and unexpected acts of kindness. The Irish Times said of it “Harding is to be commended for writing about such an important and under-reported topic... a character-driven and highly dramatic novel...vivid and credible” and Roddy Doyle called it “shocking and shockingly good. It is thought-provoking, anger-provoking, guilt-provoking, and most importantly it is a brilliantly written novel.” There was a recent excellent review in the London Economic which you can read here. It’s just been published by New Island.

A most interesting piece by Secret Bookseller, which you can read here about the effects of discounting on an indie bookshop like hers.  She points out that retailers are already jockeying for position as to who can sell La Belle Sauvage (the new Philp Pullman title, out in October) at the cheapest price possible and provides an extremely comprehensive overview of the winners and losers of this approach. Tons of facts and figures to absorb, plus relevant comment from the bookselling community. Very thought provoking.

Andrew Crofts is a ghost-writer and author who has published more than eighty books, a dozen of which were Sunday Times number one bestsellers. His new novella under his own name: Secrets of The Italian Gardner (pb, £7.99, 978 1910453384) has just been published in paperback by Red Door, and as part of the publicity, they set up a blog tour for Andrew – something new to him – and maybe to some of you. Read his amusing piece entitled Confessions of a Blog Tour Virgin here on Book Brunch. He discusses what he perceives as “a radical power shift” in the publishing process, meaning that both readers and authors now have far more opportunities to talk to one another directly, speeding up "word-of-mouth" recommendations” and “streamlining the whole process to a fantastic degree.” Secrets of The Italian Gardner begins when Mo, the wealthy dictator of a volatile Middle Eastern country, enlists a ghost-writer to tell his story to the world and enshrine him in history as a glorious ruler. Reviewers have said “I found this book to be totally absorbing” and “like the flowers on the cover, the story bursts from the pages and really grips you from start to finish…an unusual story; unique and well worth reading.”

Not the Booker Prize 2017 is back for another year of compelling contention and it’s time to get your recommendations in! This award is run by the Guardian newspaper, and was set up in 2009, to see if the wider reading community could do any better than the official Booker jury, asking: Does the blogging crowd have more wisdom than the panel? Can we come up with a more interesting shortlist than the judges? And can we pick a better winner? You can nominate any book eligible for this year’s Man Booker prize (that is to say basically any novel originally written in English, by a writer of any nationality, published in the UK between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017). All you have to do is post on the comments section of this page here with the book, author, publisher and pub date. Nominations will remain open until 23.59 BST on Sunday 30 July. 

There will be a big review of Seasonal Disturbances (£9.99, pb, 978 1784103361) Karen McCarthy Woolf’s highly-anticipated follow-up collection to her Forward Prize-shortlisted debut An Aviary of Small Birds in the Sunday Times this weekend. This compelling collection explores climate change, immigration, racism and the British class system; very much tapping into the post-Brexit current political climate. Warsan Shire (whose poetry featured prominently in Beyoncé’s 2016 feature-length film Lemonade) called it “a strange and stunning collection from a true writer. Vulnerable, hilarious and wise, Seasonal Disturbances is a darkly humorous exploration of the human condition.” Warsan Shire is the first Young Poet Laureate of London and has over 87k Twitter followers, so this is a great endorsement to have. Seasonal Disturbances is published next week by Carcanet, and you can see Karen reading some of the poems from her first collection here.

As a Guardian columnist, award-winning teacher, award-winning broadcaster, author, editor, singer, songwriter, producer and public speaker; Phil Beadle knows a bit about leading a life that is both creative and successful. In Rules for Mavericks: A Manifesto for Dissident Creatives (pb, £9.99. 978 1785831133) he glides and riffs around the idea of being nonconformist, examining the processes of producing good work in creative fields and examining how orthodoxies can silence dissident voices. It is a 'how to dream' book, a 'how to create' book, a 'how to work' book and a 'how to fail productively' book. In this elegant guidebook to leading an imaginative and inventive life, Phil writes that “If you make any stand against power, then power will stand against and on you. And it will do so with centuries of experience and techniques in how to do so effectively: you will be painted as barbaric, dismissed as stupid and insane, be told to know your place. Most of all, you will be termed maverick.” Rules for Mavericks was published this spring by Crown House and you can listen to a short podcast of Phil talking about his inspiring book here. There has been lots of publicity already for this title – which you can view here.  

In 2012, The Recovery Letters website was launched to host a series of letters online written by people recovering from depression. It now has around 3,500 page views a month, and you can view it at . The inspirational and heartfelt letters provided hope and support to those experiencing from this terrible condition, and were testament that recovery was possible. Now these letters have been compiled into an anthology and are interspersed with motivating quotes and additional resources as well as new material written specifically for the book. The Recovery Letters: Addressed to People Experiencing Depression (pb, £9.99, 978 1785921834) edited by James Withey and Olivia Sagan has been much praised as “a message of hope from the dark side, an antidote of rational belief to fight the lack of faith all depressives feel” and this powerful collection of personal letters from people with first-hand experiences of depression will serve as a comforting resource for anyone on the journey. There will be a piece in the Telegraph next week on this title, including an interview with James discussing his own experiences of depression and talking about why he started the project. Two of the letters are published in the current issue of Marie Clare with an introduction to the book from the authors, two more are extracted with a summary of the book in Women’s Health magazine and there’s a piece on Female First entitled Five Reasons Why You Won’t Understand Depression if You’ve Never Had It which you can read here. Gwyneth Lewis, author of Sunbathing in the Rain said “This book will save lives, which can't be said of many. Writing or reading a letter strikes at the sense of isolation which is at the root of despair. Read this book, buy it for others, it's rare and powerful medication.”

What a fabulous summer many of us are enjoying this year. Naturally, no sooner have I written this than it’s just started raining. Nevertheless, if you have customers looking for something to take with them as they stride enthusiastically into the Great British Countryside; then an ideal recommendation would be William and Dorothy Wordsworth: A Miscellany by Gavin Herbertson (pb, £9.99, 978 1903385593). The selection has been made with lovers of nature and in particular mountains, in mind and contains many of William's most well-known poems juxtaposed these poems with extracts from Dorothy Wordsworth's Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland. It has just received a five-star review on BookBag saying: “This is a great edition, displaying some of Wordsworth's best shorter works from across his literary career. It is a good taster if you're unfamiliar with the poet and what to read a broad range of his work… It’s worth mentioning the size and design of the edition here; it is compact, but hardy and strong … has been designed specifically to be taken out in nature; it is the kind of book that would accompany you on a long summer walk, to be taken out and read when surrounded by greenery and lakes. This is the perfect thing to take on a trip to the Lake District.” You can read the whole piece here. William and Dorothy Wordsworth: A Miscellany is published as a Rucksack Edition – which means it is both robust and small (18 x 3.5cm) – by Galileo.

Cyril Connolly famously said that “There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall” and author Sophie Jonas-Hill has certainly found writing her debut novel Nemesister challenging while looking after her two children – which she writes wittily about on the ByTheLetter book blog here. Nemesister (pb, £8.99, 978 1911129301) is an American gothic thriller of deception and obsession, slicked in sweat and set in the swamps of Louisiana; where the female protagonist stumbles into a deserted shack with no memory but a gun in her hand. Together with an apparent stranger she finds herself isolated and under attack from unseen assailants. Bloggers have loved it saying it “took me by surprise and I loved the twists and turns … the tension is slowly but surely ramped up … tense atmospheric feel mainly because of the location … unsettling and dark.” It’s out this week from Urbane.

Who doesn’t love a book title with a pun in it? Have a look here at eighteen of the funniest from Tequila Mockingbird to Here’s Looking at Euclid. Now Gibson Square have their own entry into the genre, with The Swinging Detective (pb, £8,99, 978 1783341177) by Henry McDonald. The author has been a Guardian journalist for 25 years and this novel is based on real events from when he was based in German as correspondent. Darker than The Killing and The Bridge, a detective (damaged by Northern Ireland) and his former girlfriend, seek to solve an increasingly gruesome trail of murders in Berlin. Cutting through a cast of seedy underworld figures, Russian mafia, corrupt politicians, neo-nazis, and Israeli avengers; hero Martin Peters is at first highly efficient, but his private swinging life soon starts to interfere with and dangerously hamper his investigation…

I absolutely LOVED The Singing Detective – and who wouldn’t want to hear that highly evocative theme tune again – played here live by the band that made it a 1940’s hit – the Harmonicats.

Compass is on Twitter! Follow us @CompassIPS. Here are some of our favourite tweets from this week …
Richard Lyle @CompassRichard  So, you forget to print order forms before you go to bed, print them at 5:00am instead of having breakfast then leave them behind. #RepsLife
Red Lion Books @RedLionBooks  'If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up.' Hunter S Thompson, born #onthisday in 1937.
Carcanet Press @Carcanet  It’s been 200 years since the death of one of Britain's best novelists, Jane Austen, check out #JaneAusten200 to see how she's remembered
The Bookseller @thebookseller  Budget airline @easyJet has launched a children's book club with 7k classic books selected by Jacqueline Wilson:
Birlinn Books @BirlinnBooks  Our 25th birthday! Three cheers for our staff, authors, readers & all the wonderful people we've worked with over the years :)
Mark Scott @mark_jkp  The Gender Agenda: is it possible to raise children free of sexist stereotypes?
Comma Press @commapress  Happy publication day Refugee Tales: Volume II!  Listen in on @BBCRadio4's Today Programme today where one of the Refugee Tales guest walkers will be talking about his experience live!!
Richard Lyle @CompassRichard  The fight for supremacy over recalcitrant broadband continues. #RepsLife #RichardsDiary #workingfromhome
And Other Stories @ Andothertweets  Hurrah! Wonderful to see Fleur Jaeggy’s I am The Brother of XX as one of excellent @LRBbookshop bookseller Charlie's Picks! In some very good company too...
Compass IPS North @compass_david  Ok, I've resisted for so long, but now I'm embracing Twitter.
Matt Haig @matthaig1  WRITING TIPS 1. Write some words. 2. Delete some words. 3. Write some writing tips instead. 4. Eat a biscuit from the mini-bar. 5. Sigh.
That’s all for now folks! More next week!

This newsletter 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.

Friday 14 July 2017

Compass Points 222

Wowsers – a real fizzer of a review in the Guardian this week for a Room Little Darker – the debut short story collection from June Caldwell which you can read in full here. “The Irish fiction renaissance continues with a gothic collection of short stories that shock and fascinate in equal measure” it said, comparing her writing to Irving Welsh, William Burroughs and Kathy Acker – pretty good company to be in! “As Irish fiction once again awakens to its true power and potential, Caldwell emerges as one of those giving the tradition a good old-fashioned shaking …. couldn’t get much blacker. It reads like boiling tar… If you prefer your Irish fiction sweet, ponderous and full to the brim with twinkles and craic – horseman, pass by. A work more attentive to – and understanding of – the terrible derangements of simply being alive I have not read in a long time.” Room Little Darker (pb, £9.99, 978 1848406094) has just been published by New Island Books

Book sales continue to rise, hurrah! According to Mintel, sales of physical books are forecast to rise by 6% this year to £1.7 billion while sales of e-books are predicted to fall by 1 % to £337 million in 2017. And no doubt we can attribute this to the excellent titles we are publishing and the superb job that the nation’s bookshops are doing selling them! Pats on the back all round then. But wait, what’s this? Apparently, the rise is actually due to a "shelfie" interior design craze sweeping the UK! Those cool cats out there are filling their living spaces with bookshelves, correctly believing that this makes them look like quirky, fascinating individuals to their dinner party guests and on social media! And having popped up the IKEA Billy Bookcase, they then realise they need several hundred yards of clever looking books to put on it! Can this possibly be right? Have a look at the article here in the Telegraph to find out!

There have been no end of fabulous events and publicity for the wonderful Wild Things books this summer – I spied a THREE-page feature for Hidden Beaches (pb, £16.99, 978 0957157378) last weekend in the Telegraph. And there’s an event coming up with three of the Wild Things authors at Stamford’s in Bristol. This great bookshop is celebrating their 20th anniversary of being in Bristol this week – Happy birthday guys! 

I see Stamford’s Bristol also have an event coming up on 24 August with author Julian Sayarer talking about Interstate: Hitchhiking Through the State of a Nation (pb, £8.99, 978 1910050934) which was published last year by Arcadia. This story of US morals found on the roads between New York and San Francisco grapples with the fault lines in US society and tells a tale of Steinbeck and Kerouac, as well as the frustrated energy of American culture and politics. Readers have found it a “colourful and sharp examination of the current soul of the USA, viewing it from its underbelly” and “enlightening, depressing, challenging and fascinating in equal measure.”

Talking of American politics, in January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order halting all refugee admissions for 120 days and temporarily barring entry to the US from seven Muslim-majority countries. Mass protests followed, and the order has since been blocked, revised and challenged by judges, politicians, activists and artists alike. Comma’s forthcoming collection Banthology (pb, £9.99, 978 1910974360) features seven stories written directly in response to the travel ban. There is an event promoting this title at the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival next week, bringing together writers from some of the seven banned countries, and asking the question: what good is art in response to such times? Zaher Omareen and Cristina Ali Farah will both be reading from the stories in Banthology. The collection also features stories by Rania Mamoun, Anoud, Wajdi al-Ahdal and Najwa Bin Shatwan and is edited by Sarah Cleave. It is published by Comma in September.

The combination of literature and bans has a long history of course – here is an entertaining trawl though a top ten banned books!

“Anne Tyler meets Raymond Carver” says the information sheet, and fans of either of these authors will definitely enjoy Old Buildings in North Texas – a wry, witty and warm debut novel from Jen Waldo, which is out in paperback in August. Reviews for the hardback were universally positive: “Old Buildings in North Texas is about addiction recovery, familial relationships, and a journey to self-awareness. The narrative voice is strong and the main character, Olivia, is witty, complex, and compelling. The dialogue flows smoothly and is realistic. And the idea of exploring abandoned buildings in Texas is intriguing.”  “The writing style flows like a river. I could not put this down and I didn't want it to end.” If you would like a reading copy of the hardback to discover the delights of this title for yourself, then please email Nuala at Old Buildings in North Texas (pb, £8.99, 978 1911350170) is published by Arcadia on 17 August.

And if you want to immerse yourself in the experience of actually looking round an old building in Texas – then have a look here!

There an interview in the Times T2 section coming up with Theodore Dalrymple, talking about his new book The Knife Went In: Real-Life Murderers and Our Culture (978 1783341184, hb, £16.99) which is published on 21 July by Gibson Square. Since the 1990s, Theodore Dalrymple has witnessed its modern variety in real life. For over a quarter of a century he has treated and examined many more murderers than most as a prison doctor, psychiatrist, and court expert in some of Britain's most deprived areas. Here, he delves deep into his life of personal encounters with the murderous underclass to determine what has changed overtime and what has not. Inimitably, his unique portrait of modern criminals is at the same time a parable of dysfunction in our own culture. Through his experiences, he exposes today's vicious cult of denial, blaming and psychobabble that hides behind a corrosive sentiment of caring. Illustrated with scores of eye-opening, true-life vignettes, The Knife Went In is in turn hilariously funny, chillingly horrifying, and always unexpectedly revealing. The title refers to a comment made by some of the murders Dalrymple has encountered, who felt “it was the victim of the stabbing who was the real author of the killer’s action: if he hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t have been stabbed. My murderer was by no means alone in explaining his deed as due to circumstances beyond his control. As it happens, there are three stabbers at present in the prison who used precisely the same expression when describing to me what happened. “The knife went in,” they said when pressed to recover their allegedly lost memories of the deed. The knife went in—unguided by human hand, apparently.” The Sunday Telegraph said this was a book “crying out to be written” and the Observer called it a “cultural highlight” while the Guardian praised it for its “surgical demolition”.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that TV history was made when Colin Firth's brooding Mr Darcy emerged dripping wet from Pemberley's lake. THAT scene from the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice has clung to our collective conscience as closely as did Firth's white linen shirt to his sculpted torso. Two hundred years after the writer's death, Professor Kathryn Sutherland who is the lead academic on the bi-centenary celebrations, gives her historical perspective here on the long relationship between Jane Austen and the BBC – a most entertaining read!

Last week we were talking about Alexander McCall Smith’s evocative new short story collection, Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories (978 1846973703, pb, £9.99) based on old black and white photographs and published by Polygon. This short film caught my eye on the BBC about a Brazilian artist who is bringing new life old photographs in a different way – by adding colour. Have a look, it really is extraordinary how much more vivid and relevant the photos seem when they look more modern, which maybe says something about our ability to empathise.

'50 is the new 30 - haven't you heard?' Or so says Ben Wilde's record producer on the eve of his comeback. If only Ben could win back ex-girlfriend, Kate, he'd be a happy man. But married Kate has moved on, and moved out to Eden Hill, a quiet housing estate in the suburbs.  Or is it? Alongside a colourful cast of friends and family, Kate is living proof that older does not always mean wiser because in Eden Hill, there's temptation around every corner. Seeking Eden (pb, £8.99, 978 1911331896) by Beverly Harvey is the perfect summer beach read, and it’s just out from Urbane. There’s been lots of publicity for this author in her local Kent – both in print and on local radio.

A big feature this week in the Mirror for The Gender Agenda (pb, £9.99, 978 1785923203) which is out from Jessica Kingsley on 21 July.  Why do boys get sturdy shoes and girls delicate bows? Why do girls learn ballet and boys do martial arts? Boys play with trucks and girls with dolls' houses? Boys get toy dinosaurs and girls get toy unicorns?  Ros Ball and James Millar chronicles the differences they noticed while raising their children, and this very thought-provoking title (adapted from the authors’ tweets and blogs and diaries) shows how culture, family and even the authors themselves are part of the 'gender police' that can influence a child's identity. There’s loads to enjoy and debate in the Mirror article – which you can read here  and this is a topic that pretty much every parent has a strong opinion on, so there’s bound to be loads more media buzz for this one – there have already been pieces in the Sunday Express, the New Statesman and the Huffington Post. Jo Swinson, former Lib Dem Equalities Minister said of it “One daughter. One son. Two different worlds. This book is a fascinating insight in how gender inequality is embedded in our society from the earliest years of a child's life.”

There was a two page-spread in the Mail this week entitled by Helena Frith Powell, author of Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles: Look and Feel Ten Years Younger Without Effort (978 1783340910, pb, £8.99) published by Gibson Square. It mentioned the book, and you can read that piece here.  

Biteback had two titles in this year’s Saturday Guardian’s Best Holiday Reads 2017 which you can see  here.  Kazuo Ishiguro chose Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World (pb, £9.99, 978 1785902147) saying “Both Evan Davis and Matthew d’Ancona recently published excellent books on our so-called post-truth era, but I’d like to highlight James Ball’s Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World for its vivid analysis of how the business models and incentives currently prevailing in digital media render decent discourse all but inaudible.” 
And Phillipe Sands chose The Greatest Comeback (hb, £20, 978 1785901393) writing “History and memoir offer insights into other times and lives that make Britain’s current miserable travails marginally more tolerable. The Greatest Comeback by David Bolchover is astonishing, not least for its unlikely melding of football and mass murder, two of my daily passions.”

Hamlet, starring the very wonderful Andrew Scott, is currently playing to packed houses at the Harold Pinter Theatre. This is a radical new version of Shakespeare’s classic, reworked and directed by Robert Icke, who the Observer called "one of the most important forces in today’s theatre" and the script is published by Oberon (LOVE the cover!) This new production has had absolutely cracking reviews: “an admirable lucidity. Much of the time it feels like a modern and highly charged family drama, steeped in Nordic Noir... Icke’s interpretations of classic plays are unapologetically audacious, yet they have a rigorous logic... rich and beautiful” said the Evening Standard; and there will be a demand for this new paperback. Hamlet (pb, £9.99, 978 1786822246) by Shakespeare/Robert Icke is available now and you can find out more on the Oberon website here.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy": Andrew Scott plays Moriarty to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock of course – oh go on then, you know you want to see them; here are his very best moments!

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

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