I spent some of the last week sorting through books at the house of my late parents and dropping off the ones I don’t want at the local charity book shop. I came across an unread novel by one Joan Brady and my first thought was "Who?" Well I know now.
Mark Lawson in The Guardian writes of the impact of Brady’s recent legal action success – winning £115k in an out of court settlement – where fumes from a cobbler near her home caused her so much physical distress and mental distraction she was reduced from writing a literary tome to penning a thriller. Oh dear, where the poor cobbler’s lawyers here? Literary novels can have such meandering plots but thrillers require much attention to detail. I am pleased to report that the Brady novel went to the charity shop.
All this took place in Totnes in Devon and Uriah was on the spot like a roving reporter, providing this wonderful post (with photo of the local indie bookshop) on Crime Scraps. Now then, you’d have to have been unconscious or somewhere deep in the jungle or desert to have missed the news of Jeremy Paxman’s leaked email to Sir Stuart Rose, the Chief Exec of M&S, last week. Paxman asserts that M&S undies for men are no longer of sufficient quality, or indeed support. This has led to some element of national debate and Paxman has said that he’s had more correspondence on this than any other matter in his career, including his interview with Michael Howard. Men now want to talk about their undergarments and it seems to be catching. Even Uriah manages to divulge in that post the brand of his own underpants…
By the way, at last year’s inaugural Henley Literary Festival, Paxman took to the stage to talk about royalty, managing to mention his M&S underpants in passing. I can imagine that someone so loyal would feel so aggrieved when facing reduced quality.
Last week we learned that BBC2 will entertain us in March with a reality TV show that has six "celebs" writing crime fiction, competing to win the coveted prize of producing a novella for the Quick Read series on World Book Day in 2009. The proceeds will go to Children in Need and the format of the programme is the brainchild of "Strictly Come Dancing" and "Dragons’ Den" mastermind Richard Hopkins, MD of Fever Media. The esteemed Minette Walters is to be mentor, judge and jury to the six novice writing celebs: dancer Brendan Cole, actresses Sherrie Hewson and Angela Griffin, former tabloid editor Kelvin MacKenzie, presenter Matt Allwright and gardener Diarmuid Gavin.
This has caused some understandable consternation in some camps:
But it’s not all negative:
Walters will set tasks for the celebs including attendance at a post mortem. Reaction to that one is enhanced by the fact it will be reaction from a bunch of celebs. How will they react? Will they manage to hold onto their own stomach contents? We will know in March.
Ironically, the BBC aired a reality TV programme in 2003 called "The Murder Game", which featured a set of unknowns trying to solve a fictional crime. It flopped and was not repeated. (No surprises there, as it was based on a US programme – "Murder in Small Town X" – which was also a flop.) I watched some of it and thought it would have been better if they’d challenged crime fiction writers.
Lastly, we are told that our independent bookshops are a dying breed, although some manage to buck the trend. Last week, Which? magazine published the results of its High Street Shops Survey, which focused on customer retail satisfaction. After Waitrose and John Lewis, independent book/CD/DVD stores came in at 3rd place, beating Waterstone’s at 5th place and Borders at joint 9th place, with Books etc. at joint 42nd place. Congratulations to all booksellers for the satisfaction they deliver!