Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Miscellaneous goods (and bads)

Charles Whiting, the ultra-prolific British author (more than 350 books) has died at the age of 80. His work was discussed here on 6 July 2005 and there's an obituary in the Times.

Various people are asking whether trade paperbacks can save literary fiction (see Galleycat for a summary).

The answer is no. Nothing can save literary fiction. It isn't a question of format or cost; it's a question of boredom.

You can fool some of the people some of the time, and you can even fool the same people for several years -- or books -- at a time. But eventually the penny drops.

Sadly, I am not one of them as cares whether the mighty UK literary and entertainment agency PFD remains intact, or fragments into a thousand splinter groups, with talent huffing off in all directions. But the Independent has various articles on the situation (links from, and, of course, if you want the real story of who is sleeping with whom, Madame Arcati has the sordid truth.

It can't be very comfortable, spending so much time hiding under so many beds, but Madame has a Fleet Street background, and those guys (and gals) will do anything for a story. Madame has updates, by the way, on top of the original post linked to above, so go to the main site and learn even more about adultery, lesbianism, the licking of postage stamps and tying up parcels of paper with string and sealing wax.

Steve Tiano, book designer and more, has been interviewed (16 September) by Paula Berinstein on The Writing Show. Paula asks some good questions, and touches upon my favourite book-design topic: why book design is more important for the reader than you think. (And, incidentally, much more important than readers realise.)

Are there any readers of this blog who live in Hull, England? If so, Tindal Street Press are organising a launch for Daphne Glazer's novel By the Tide of the Humber. Thursday 27 September from 7 till 9 pm, at the Live Art Space, Ferens Art Gallery, Queen Victoria Square HU1 3RA. You need an invite, but give 'em a call, say you read it here: contact Emma Hargrave by phone 0121 773 8157, or email

The world is full of literary festivals. Naturally, being grumpy, I am not a great fan. I read the programme and as often as not find nothing I would like to go to. But hey, don't let me put you off.

I mention all this because there's a litfest coming up in Durham, England, 29 September to 13 October. Details here.

Edmond Clay is as unlikely a reader of the Daily Mail as ever I came across, even online, but he draws my attention to an article about people who will do absolutely anything to appear on TV. He reminds me that I once wrote a novel about that kind of thing. As did Daniel Scott Buck, only his is rather better.

The Daily Mail article, by the way, isn't just a snippet. It goes on and on and on. No shortage of examples, it seems. My favourite is the woman who says this: 'Ultimately, being on Big Brother would be my dream. Then I'd really feel that I had been a success in life.'


Gladys Hobson said...

Desire to be part of 'Big Brother' ?

A celebrity created by the media is like candy floss — a little sugar and a huge puff of nothing!

Going back to when I worked in Nottingham's dark satanic mills, the dear old down-trodden cleaner, (who loved to read about the latest murder in her tabloid newspaper - her only entertainment) would have considered herself a celebrity if she had been the victim of the latest outrage.

No one wants to be a nobody.
Sad, very sad.

Anonymous said...

Madame's article and Halperin's book remind me of how nice it is to be a nobody just hoping to pay the rent and buy my liver pills each month.

Anonymous said...

Re Madame Arcati - After reading the Heseltine/Michel story and then the interview with Ian Halperin on the Sodom of Hollywood, I am going to take a long shower. I don't think I've read so much filth in all my life.

Payton L. Inkletter said...

Stay grumpy Michael! Long live His Grumpiness!

Anonymous said...

And some of us would do anything to appear in the GOBlog...even Edmond Clay who says "it was just a note to the Grumpster about topical mores! I suppose I'm somebody now...without lowering my standards beneath that of the Daily Mail..." Thanks GOB for defending my ill-gotten repute in a world that doesn't seem to care. Is this irony or just quaint?

Tarquin Tar said...

Hey, GOB, love your blog. Keep up the great posts.

- "Tarquin Tar" (

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