Here’s a cracking sporting title, which has come very late into the publishing programme for St David’s Press, and which you therefore may well not be aware of. Living My Dream (£13.99, pb, 978 1902719641) by Dave Edwards and Paul Berry is the story of a hard-working and very intelligent professional. Dave Edwards is the first member of the Wales squad to reveal the inside story of the Euros from within the Welsh camp, and the book contains lots of anecdotes and photographs that have never previously been published. Dave played for his hometown club, Shrewsbury Town and also spent twelve seasons at Wolves, before being transferred to Reading in August 2017. He has been capped 43 times for Wales and is a part of the Welsh Golden Generation developed by John Toshack and Garry Speed. Dave started the first game of the Euros against Slovakia and several other games in France as Wales reached the semi-finals. Joe Hart, the England goalkeeper, is an old friend from Shropshire schools football and has written the foreword calling it “a fascinating look at the journey made by all of us who set out as young kids with the dream of one day becoming a professional footballer, and all the obstacles which crop up along the way. Dave Edwards has been one of my best mates in football, all the way through my career, and this book offers some great behind-the-scenes insight into what it is like for a player at a major tournament, and some of the secrets behind Wales’ spectacular success.” Dave has 25.7k followers on Twitter and is very media savvy, which should help publicise this title. The FA of Wales has agreed to give the book profile on their social media and the books’ co-author is the Media Manager at Wolves who will also help generate media coverage. This is a cracking Christmas present book – which should have wide appeal not just in Wales but anywhere there are footie fans!
And Other Stories will begin their year of publishing only women writers in January, with Ann Quin's The Unmapped Country (£10, pb, 978 1911508144). This is a new collection of rare and unpublished writing by the cult 1960s author, which explores the risks and seductions of going over the edge. The stories cut an alternative path across innovative twentieth-century writing, bridging the world of Virginia Woolf and Anna Kavan with that of Kathy Acker and Chris Kraus. Tom McCarthy said of Ann Quin “After her death in 1973 at only 37, Ann Quin’s star first dipped beneath the horizon, disappearing from view entirely, before rising slowly but persistently, to the point that it’s now attaining the septentrional heights it always merited. I suspect that she’ll eventually be viewed, alongside BS Johnson and Alexander Trocchi, as one of the few mid-century British novelists who actually, in the long term, matter.” The collection has been edited by the brilliant Jennifer Hodgson, who spent seven years gathering the stories from archives and collections around the world. The stories are vivid, strange and fresh, and some have said that the unfinished novel that lends the collection its title would have been Quin’s best if it had been finished.” Publicity for this title is going to be everywhere, starting this Sunday (10th Dec) on BBC R4's Open Book when the book’s editor Jen Hodgson will be interviewed by Mariella Frostrup. (This programme is repeated on December 14th.) Then in mid-January there is a serialisation of Jen Hodgson's Introduction to the book in the New Statesman and also an excerpt from The Unmapped Country novel fragment in the TLS as well as a feature piece. We have review coverage confirmed in the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Irish Times and the Spectator. Sadly, of course Quin’s no longer here to celebrate the launch of the book, so And Other Stories have asked some of their top writers to come and do events in tribute to her – the first of which is Ann Quin: A Celebration with Deborah Levy, Juliet Jacques and Jennifer Hodgson at the London Review Bookshop on the book’s publication date, 18th January. Then on Friday 16th February there is a high-profile afternoon and evening event Who Cares About Ann Quin? at the Royal College of Art.
Identity and marginalisation are the themes that emerge in Letters Home, an anthology of mini mysteries from Martyn Bedford (a Leeds author best known for his YA fiction) which has just been published by Comma Press. Many of the characters in the stories find themselves at a point of redefinition, trading in their old identity for something new. Whether it is an act of retreat or escape fantasising about storming out of a thankless job, or just avoiding a bad-tempered husband for a few moments on Christmas day they each understand the first step in changing a reality, is to reconstruct it. The New York Times wrote “Martyn Bedford is the genuine article, a writer of unmistakable flair and accomplishment” and Jeremy Dyson called these stories “haunting and intimate portraits of vividly different lives that get under your skin and stay there.” Martin has just done a fascinating Q&A session with Big Issue North this week which you can read here and there will also be an interview and review in the Yorkshire Post in the next fortnight.
Hurrah, we have two titles on The Republic of Consciousness Prize longlist! The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses was founded by Neil Griffiths last year and is sponsored by the TLS. It rewards literary fiction published by presses in the UK and Ireland that employ fewer than five full-time employees. The guiding principle for judging the overall creative endeavour is that the book that wins must represent the best of “hard-core literary fiction and gorgeous prose”. The two books are Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell (£10, pb, 978-1911508007) published by And Other Stories. The judges said of it: “In a year where nearly half of our longlisted books are debuts, this one sticks most closely to the formula we would expect from a first novel: semi-autobiographical, reflecting on a defining episode in the author’s life. This is one of the best examples of this sub-genre to appear in years. Cottrell’s bleakly comic work follows the narrator Helen as she tries to work out why her younger brother committed suicide. Deep, searing and honest, it is all the better for making no concessions to the reader.”
The other title is Darker with the Lights On by David Hayden (£12.99, hb, 978 0995705258) which is published by Little Island Press. The judges said: “This collection comprises a miscellany of vignettes that are both unsettling and ludic. Eaten apples are regurgitated and made whole, squirrels lecture on storytelling, decapitated heads merrily sing as they bounce across the floor; David Hayden’s debut collection is a joy. Plus, Little Island Press is producing some of the most beautifully made books in the UK today.” The Republic of Consciousness shortlist will be announced at Waterstones in Manchester on February 15, 2018 and you can read about all thirteen titles on the longlist in the TLS here.
Well, it’s not exactly festive reading, but The Knife Went In: Real-life Murderers and Our Culture (978 1783341184, hb, £16.99) by Theodore Dalrymple has been a number one Amazon Popular Culture Bestseller and has had some amazing reviews. The Mail on Sunday called it “A razor-sharp expose of our broken society… One of the greatest men of our age… Both funny and a badly needed corrective to conventional wisdom… hugely readable … gripping real-life stories… tells a deep truth about the sort of society we have become. A future historian, a century hence, will learn more about 21st Century Britain from this book than from any official document. So will you. Please read it.” And Dominic Lawson writing in the Mail said it showed “the blackest of black… the best of humanity.” The Sunday Telegraph said that “Nobody has observed the fallacies of modern England with a clearer eye, or a more intelligent quill. It would be nice to know that the BBC had heard of him because we could expect to hear him deliver next year’s Reith Lectures.” The Knife Went In is published by Gibson Square.
From an idyllic childhood growing up in Cornwall, to working as press officer at 10 Downing Street, Barbara Hosking had a remarkable career in British politics. She subsequently went on to become part of the rise and development of breakfast television. Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Service (£25, hb, 978 1785903557) is also the very personal story of her struggle with her sexuality in the 1950s, a time when being gay could mean social ostracism. Born during the General Strike in 1926, Barbara made her way through London typing pools to executive posts in the Labour Party, then to press officer to Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. Hosking pens vivid and revealing portraits of prominent politicians from the age, including Nye Bevan, Barbara Castle, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath. She was at No. 10 as the terrorist attack took place during the Olympic Games held in Munich, 1972, and she witnessed the initialling of the Treaty of Rome when Britain entered the then Common Market. An enthralling read of a long life well lived, Exceeding My Brief is filled with plenty of anecdotes, about both Barbara’s private and working lives. This book is much more than a memoir. It is a cracking good read. Her life story mirrors the great changes in British society from the time of her birth in 1926 to the present day and her crisp and candid prose is warm, generous, humorous and at times passionate. Lots of publicity for this one; do keep an eye out for a Q&A feature with Barbara in this weekend’s Observer and she’ll also be appearing on Radio 4’s Start the Week a little later this month. There have already been pieces in the New Statesman, The Times and interviews on BBC Radio Cornwall, BBC Radio London, and on the BBC World Service, Weekend. It’s published by Biteback.
The Bookseller have just published their annual book jacket quiz Got It Covered where you can test your knowledge on the year’s book jackets! They’re cut out images to make tiny snapshots from fifty books, all released during 2017 and covering a number of genres, from children's to poetry to cookbooks. The person who gets the most correct answers will win a bundle of books. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm on 31st December, 2017 and you can find the quiz here.
Who’s looking forward to Coco – the new movie from Pixar, which is released on 19th January? Me, me, me – you can see a trailer here. The film is inspired by the Mexican holiday of the Dead of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) and will undoubtedly produce a surge of interest in this dynamic festival, so I know you’ll want to stock up the two Arcturus Day of the Dead-themed books: Sugar Skulls Colouring Book (pb, £6.99, 978 1784048549) and Day of the Dead Dot-to-Dot (pb, £6.99, 978 1784286040). I love these fabulously bright and vibrant covers!
Some fantastic windows for Queen in 3D as the band tour around the country – thanks very much Waterstones! You can see the fab displays inside and out at Sauchiehall St, Glasgow above and below! Absolute Classic Rock radio are running a promo on air for two weeks offering one person the chance to win a copy signed by Brian May which will ensure it gets loads of mentions on-air right through to Christmas! You can find out more on their website here.
Not one, not two but THREE Save Haven titles made it into the Guardian's Christmas Books round-ups! Stephen Moss in Nature Books of the Year said that “London's Street Trees by Paul Wood (pb, £12,99, 978 0993291135) adds a fascinating new dimension to any walk through the city. Small, independent publishers such as Safe Haven continue to outperform in this field.”. Then Huw Richards in Sports Books of the Year said that “Cricket fans will cherish Duncan Hamilton’s The Kings of Summer– a gem that celebrates the remarkable climax of the 2016 County Championship while fearing for the long game’s future.” And Henry Jeffrey in his Drinks Books of the Year wrote “Finally, there’s Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey’s 20th Century Pub (£16.99, pb, 978 0957278721). This thoroughly researched, elegantly written history of the English boozer takes in council estate pubs, road houses, gastropubs and the dreaded theme pub.” Excellent presents all of them!
’Tis the season to drink fizz and eat mince pies while you’re supposedly working! This week we bring you an extract from Rob Temple’s hilarious Very British Problems on the top ten trials and tribulations of the Work Christmas Party. Do any of them strike a chord in your bookshop?!
1. Trying to decide which of your jumpers in varying shades of grey most counts as "novelty".
2. Reading a company-wide email warning you to behave, while drinking a can of gin and tonic at 10am.
3. Thinking that nothing says "Christmas fun!" like getting changed in a damp-floored office lavatory.
4. Finding your table place name next to the CEO and realising that "piss-up" just turned into "tense board meeting while eating turkey".
5. Being unable to concentrate on any conversation when you notice you've one fewer pig-in-blanket than everyone else at the table.
6. Wondering how much thought someone's put into your "Secret Santa" present of "a pack of Biros".
7. The ridiculousness of discussing the recent pay freeze and department budget cuts while wearing a pink paper hat.
8. Knowing the party's really getting into full swing when someone starts crying.
9. Showing off your dancing skills, causing everyone to back away in what you believe to be "awe".
10. Having a hunch that the email you receive on Monday titled "Your behaviour" isn't going to be congratulatory in nature.
That’s all for now folks! More next week!
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