The International Herald Tribune would have us believe that book publishers are not going to make the same mistakes as the music and film industries. Springer is simplifying digital access and copying facilities for its substantial academic and scientific output, and mainstream publishers are, er... having a think. (Link from booktrade.info.)
Wisdom from Cheltenham?
The Times, I gather, is sponsoring the Cheltenham Literature Festival, and hence is giving the proceedings rather more column inches than would otherwise be the case.
Yesterday, for example, 'one of the country's leading writers' said that bookshops were failing to promote modern literature. The leading writer making this charge was Patrick Neate, of whom, sad to say, I had never previously heard a whisper.
However, as some blogger pointed out (and I regret that I cannot now remember who), Susan Hill was also at Cheltenham, and she told an entirely different story:
At Cheltenham on Saturday we had yet more complaining about how hard it is for writers, how no one wants to publish them and when they are published how no one wants to stock them and... Oh give me strength.Quite right too.
April Ashley survives
You won't remember, because you're far too young, but April Ashley was one of the first Brits to have a so-called sex-change operation. Once famous, and beloved of the tabloids, she has faded from view somewhat in recent years, but now she has her own web site, and gallery, and so forth. (Thanks to Madame Arcati for the link.)
April is going to write another autobiography, dealing with 1980 onwards, and this time including stuff which had to be left out of the first one. Now that I really would like to read.
Cliff Richard also survives
Galleycat alerted me to the fact that Headline is going to publish a Cliff Richard memoir.
That one I definitely won't bother with. There is no way in the world that it will tell anything even remotely like the truth. Pure vanilla, from start to finish.
Mention of Madame Arcati reminds me that she ain't on the blogroll yet. And neither are some others who ought to be. But I will get there. Eventually.
If you want the inside story on how the South Koreans are reacting to the bomb, my son Jon can help. Complete with stock market tips.
Apparently it's the Booker thingie tonight. I hadn't noticed, but a blogger (and again, I'm afraid I have forgotten who) reminded me yesterday.
The big revelation used to be broadcast live on one of the UK TV channels, but this year it's just going to be announced on the BBC ten o'clock news. Lead item, no doubt, taking precedence over anything to do with bombs.
I find, on reflection, that I am successfully managing to contain my excitement.
The Book People
The Book People's catalogue is beginning to drop out of magazines again. Well, it is nearly Christmas, after all.
I must say I find it all rather garish. The catalogue is mostly red, but the web site is mostly blue. Strong, either way.
There's lots and lots of stuff for kids. Paddington Bear is still popular, I see. And so is William! Good grief. He has joined the immortals. I wonder if it's been updated?
Simenon is recycled, and you can buy all six of the Booker shortlist for £29.99! Crumbs. I bet the authors are all thrilled about that.
On Friday last, by the way, to the Theatre Royal, Bath, to see Amy's View, starring Felicity Kendal. This play is by David Hare, who has a long and distinguished track record. The production is directed, without much fanfare, by Sir Peter Hall, and is going to tour in anticipation of a West End transfer.
You probably recall that Amy's View was very successful, just under ten years ago, in both London and New York, with Judi Dench in the lead. It's a play all about relationships, the mother/daughter/son-in-law thing, and I'm afraid I didn't enjoy it much. There are also some ideas lurking in there: is the theatre dead type of thing.
All in all, it struck me that, had it not been written by a man with a long list of successes, Amy's View would never have been put on in a month of Sundays. Except possibly by the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society. However, it is undeniably well acted.
McGillivray on censorship
Speaking of Farndale Avenue, I had forgotten that David McGillivray was one of the parties responsible for that. David doesn't seem to have a web site devoted solely to his exploits, which is a pity, because he has an unusual set of achievements. Here are a few things that have come to my notice.
If you want an entertaining account of some of the less respectable corners of the British film industry, try Doing Rude Things, which is a history of the British sex film from 1957 to 1981. I find, to my astonishment, that I have a signed copy. Not only that, but Pamela Green, who wrote the foreword, has signed it too! Crumbs. Ah, Pamela. If only we were both young again. Now she does have her own web site.
I'm pretty sure that it was also David McGillivray who wrote a short biography of the UK actress Madeline Smith. I had a copy of that too, once, but it seems to have disappeared.
On a more serious note, you can find David's learned and valuable 1999 essay on censorship on the Melon Farmers web site. Subtitled 'Why obscenity legislation is the pornographer's best friend', it contains a lot of useful information and much good sense.
If you live in the UK you would be hard put to avoid knowing that the BBC has revived Robin Hood for a new series on Saturday nights. Timed at 50 minutes an episode, it is obviously intended to be sold to commercial stations, so it will probably go everywhere in the end.
The mythical figure of Robin has had a long run in show business. Errol Flynn did him for Hollywood, as did Kevin Costner. But what most people my age remember is the 1950s television series, produced, curiously enough, in the UK. It was, as I recall, cheap, cheerful, and gave employment to, among others, a couple of blacklisted Hollywood writers.
The executive producer was Hannah Weinstein. I remember one day in about 1960 when I was walking through Kensington with an American friend. He pointed out a Rolls Royce. 'That's Hannah's,' he said, and explained how she had come by it. 'I knew her,' he added, 'when she was so poor that she had to write letters with a burn matchstick.' A slight exaggeration, but I took his point.
The new BBC version is not to everyone's taste, but I liked it. Robin, it turns out, is a bit of a shortarse, but what he lacks in stature he makes up for in supernatural powers. When he gets annoyed he does a bit of an incredible hulk thing; light shines out of his eyes and so forth. He's a dab hand with a bow and arrow too: he can fire two arrows at once and save not just once chap from hanging but two, by cutting the ropes with his deadly aim. I don't think Errol Flynn could do that.
The programme is worth watching for Maid Marian alone. I have to choose my words carefully here, but she is, shall we say, distinctly juicy. I don't think Robin's man enough for the job, actually, but we shall see.
Am I alone in sighing wearily at yet more tales of frenzy at Frankfurt? This one comes from the Bookseller, which is too damn mean to let you read it on their site, so you have to go to the Book Standard.
The 'hottest book of the year' is reportedly the best of its kind since The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which isn't saying much, in my estimation. Then Faber have snapped up this, and there's huge interest in that, and there are 'massive six-figure pre-empts' and so forth.
God it's boring.
Last Saturday's Times shows Terry Pratchett at the top of the bestsellers with 32,348 copies sold. But the Sunday Times chart, for the same period, doesn't list him at all. Am I missing something? Is it because Wintersmith is allegedly a kid's book? I've bought one anyway, so there.
A good laugh
If you are in search of comic relief, the best I can offer you this morning is a piece in the Law supplement of today's Times. Written by David Pannick, it concerns a couple of judges who were shagging each other, and a few other people besides, and got themselves into the newspapers. Highly entertaining, always provided, of course, that you are not one of the parties involved.
The truth shall out?
And finally today, another reminder that the nature of obituaries has changed. Once the rule was de mortuis, but not any longer. Some time ago I referred to the obituary of Peter Carter-Ruck, in which the dead man got a thorough (albeit thoroughly deserved) kicking from a former colleague. And today's Times offers an obit of Professor Arthur Marwick which is franker than most.
Marwick was a historian, and I remember him because he wrote The Deluge, a study of the impact of the first world war on British society. I found it useful when planning a never-written novel about that period.
After the usual life summary, the obituary (unsigned, as is the Times regular practice) says that Marwick's interests were 'wine, women and football'.
He was, in truth, too often drunk, and when drunk a boor and a bore. He made enemies and hurt friends. But he was also a shy, generous and deeply kind man. He had an unswerving commitment to history’s social purpose. He never married, but had a daughter and granddaughter, on whom he doted.Well, I don't think he was drunk when he wrote The Deluge. That was pretty good.