Snippets from the past week in the literary world
CONGRATULATIONS to Doug Johnstone, novelist, muso and Scotsman book reviewer, whose latest thriller, the Edinburgh-set Hit and Run, managed to dislodge erotica novelist EL James from the top of the Kindle bestselling chart last weekend.
Admittedly, this was helped by cutting its price to 99p, but even on Monday when it had reverted to its £6.87 full price, it was still in pole position, ahead of such mega-sellers as the three books in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy. There has also been a knock-on boost to Johnstone’s other books: Smokeheads, his previous novel, was pushed up to No 1 in Kindle’s Movers and Shakers chart.
This is all the more impressive as EL James, the British author whose Shades of Grey has topped the US ebook charts, last week benefitted from the free publicity of a Newsnight interview about the boom in e-book erotica.
Although I still haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, a short article on it in Entertainment Weekly’s website ew.com makes me think it might be a shoo-in for the next Bad Sex Award. Here, for example, is her bondage-obsessed billionaire Christian Grey musing on the roots of his sexual preferences: “Why is anyone the way they are? That’s kind of hard to answer. Why do some people like cheese and other people hate it? Do you like cheese?”
I’m not so bothered about e-book erotica. But bad writing … surely there should be some kind of law against that?
So let’s zoom straight off to the other end of the writing spectrum, which is where we find Hilary Mantel, whose Bring up the Bodies, due out next week, will only confirm her reputation as the best writer of historical fiction on the planet.
Anyone who has read Wolf Hall, her brilliant reimagining of the life of English king Henry VIII’s right-hand man Thomas Cromwell, will be itching to read the sequel, which she had thought would take the story right up to his execution in 1540.
The good news is that it doesn’t. Instead, Bring up the Bodies focuses in fascinating detail on the downfall of Ann Boleyn, and Cromwell’s own fall from grace will be dealt with in a further novel.
Meanwhile, there’ll be an HBO series on Wolf Hall, and – you read it here first – a play written by the award- winning dramatist Mike Poulton.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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