Readersforum's Blog

October 31, 2012

The last word in humour and honesty from Daily Telegraph readers

SIR – My husband’s pithy summary of today’s Daily Telegraph was: “Bosoms; Downton Abbey; and the next thing that’s going to kill me.” Above, Shirely MacLaine as Martha Levinson, Cora Crawley’s mother in Downton Abbey

An annual treat is the compilation of unpublished Daily Telegraph readers’ letters.

By Iain Hollingshead

Last Christmas, when we published I Rest My Case…, the third in the bestselling series of unpublished letters to the editor, some people expressed their concerns about the seeming finality of the book’s title. Could an eventful year in which London burned, the Middle East revolted, Prince William wed, bin Laden died, Nick Clegg cried and Silvio Berlusconi bunga bunga-ed be our readers’ last hurrah?

Fie! Our wonderful correspondents, choleric, trenchant, wise, witty, waggish, and often downright outrageous, are made of sterner stuff. We’ve been fortunate in that this year has been no less eventful than last. You might have noticed the Olympics. It has also been the year of Abu Qatada and Andy Murray, hosepipe bans and droughts, Dave and Boris, pasties and jerry cans.

Great events alone do not, of course, make for great correspondence. Only Daily Telegraph letter-writers are capable of merging the weighty, the whimsical and the quotidian to such hilarious advantage. The water companies impose a hosepipe ban; a reader wonders if he can irrigate his lawn by staging a domestic riot and drawing fire from the police’s water cannon. The chief executive of RBS rejects his enormous bonus; a reader writes to say that he doesn’t mind him keeping it, as long as he spends £1,000 replacing his “disgracefully cheapo” pair of hunting boots.

If you look for stereotypes, you will find them. One correspondent admits that, if there were a political party for the Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, she would be one of the first to join. Recurring themes emerge year on year, whether complaints about Murray’s facial hair (Robert Jay QC is a new entry in this category), the proliferation of retired colonels on the letters page, the crossword, the Americanisation of the English language, the BBC, the EU, wind farms or sinking sartorial standards. All are delivered with customary aplomb, not to mention a deliciously, devilishly erudite turn of phrase.

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Binet debut on Waterstones Book of the Year shortlist

 | By Lisa Campbell

A debut novel translated from French is among the six titles shortlisted for the inaugural Waterstones Book of the Year.

Laurent Binet’s HHhH, published in translation by Harvill Secker, is one of only two novels included on the shortlist, announced today (30th October). Also shortlisted is the Man Booker Prize-winning Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate).

The remaining titles are all non-fiction: Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper (John Murray); The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton); On The Map: Why The World Looks The Way It Does by Simon Garfield (Profile Books); and Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) by Russell Norman (Bloomsbury Publishing).

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Will Ferguson Wins 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Filed under: Literary Prizes — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 12:27 pm

By Jason Boog

Novelist Will Ferguson has won the $50,000 prize (in Canadian currency) Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel, 419. The jury had this commentary:

Ferguson’s 419 points in the direction of something entirely new: the Global Novel. It is a novel emotionally and physically at home in the poverty of Lagos and in the day-to-day of North America. It tells us the ways in which we are now bound together and reminds us of the things that will always keep us apart. It brings us the news of the world far beyond the sad, hungry faces we see on CNN and CBC and far beyond the spreadsheets of our pension plans. Ferguson is a true travel writer, his eye attuned to the last horrible detail. He is also a master at dialogue and suspense. It is tempting to put 419 in some easy genre category, but that would only serve to deny its accomplishment and its genius.

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‘Remarkable’ shortlist for William Hill

 |By Katie Allen

Self-published title Shot and a Ghost has been shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year alongside titles from Yellow Jersey and Ebury Press.

James Willstrop and Rod Gilmour’s squash title joins That Near-Death Thing by Rick Broadbent (Orion); Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn (Faber); The Secret Race – Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle (Bantam Press); Be Careful What You Wish For by Simon Jordan (Yellow Jersey); Fibber in the Heat by Miles Jupp (Ebury Press); and A Life Without Limits – A World Champion’s Journey by Chrissie Wellington with Michael Aylwin (Constable & Robinson).

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Book vs. Film: Cloud Atlas

Stories cross mediums like clouds cross skies, an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud an’ so is a story.

By Joshua Chaplinsky

Back in July when the glorious six-minute trailer for Cloud Atlas came out, I wrote about how I had written about the unfilmable nature of the source material back in February. In said article– which I had initially planned for LitReactor’s October 2011 launch, but postponed so I could wait for a producer’s quote which never materialized– I promised to revisit the matter once the film had been released. It was set to hit theaters this past October, which it did, but luckily I got to see the film early, at a Fantastic Fest secret screening this past September. At the time of this reading (but not of this writing), some of you have no doubt seen the film, and the column idea I hatched over a year ago has finally come to fruition. It will now spread across the consciousness of the internet, and be transformed in the minds of those who read it, before being passed on in some form or another, verbal or electronic, while hopefully retaining its true essence.

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October 30, 2012

Winterson memoir bags indie booksellers prize

30.10.12 | Lisa Campbell

Members of the public have voted Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (Vintage) as the winner of the Independent Booksellers’ Book Prize 2012.

The children’s winner meanwhile was One Dog and His Boy (Marion Lloyd Books) by the late Eva Ibbotson.

Members of the public chose Winterson’s book from a shortlist of 10 while Ibbotson’s title won from a shortlist of 12. The shortlists were selected from titles put forward by publishers and selected by a panel of judges.

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The Past Is Never Dead: A Faulkner Quote in ‘Midnight in Paris’ Results in a Lawsuit

Owen Wilson, left, and Marion Cotillard in 1920s Paris in a scene from “Midnight in Paris.”


When settling previous intellectual disputes, Woody Allen has been able to produce esteemed men of letters to come to his defense (at least when Marshall McLuhan is hiding just off camera). But there is not much chance that William Faulkner will be able to speak up for him in this latest disagreement: Faulkner Literary Rights, the company that controls works by that Nobel Prize-winning author of “The Sound and the Fury” and “As I Lay Dying,” has filed a lawsuit over Mr. Allen’s 2011 film “Midnight in Paris” and what it says is that movie’s unauthorized use of a line from Faulkner’s book “Requiem for a Nun.”

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Introducing Literary Jukebox: Daily Book Quote Matched with a Song

Filed under: Verbatim — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:04 am

By Maria Popova

An experiment in cross-pollinating the arts.

As a lover of both literature and music, I frequently find myself immersed in a passage, with a conceptually related song beginning to play in my mind’s ear. I recently started making such matches more consciously and was quickly drawn into a highly addictive exercise in creative intersections and associations. So I decided to make a little side project out of it. Enter Literary Jukebox, a minimalist site where I match a passage from a favorite book with a thematically related song each day. Sometimes, the connections will be fairly obvious. Other times, they might be more esoteric and require some reflection.

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An interview with David Mitchell, the author behind ‘Cloud Atlas’

Filed under: Interviews — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:33 am

The young David Mitchell

By Carolyn Kellogg

David Mitchell came to Los Angeles because of an 8-year-old book. Thanks to the movie by Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, Mitchell’s novel “Cloud Atlas” has landed on American bestseller lists — right behind the decidedly less literary trilogy “50 Shades of Grey.” Mitchell sat down with the L.A. Times’ Carolyn Kellogg — in this extended interview, which has been edited for length and clarity, he talks in detail about his writing process, what makes a book last and the “Cloud Atlas” adaptation.

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October 29, 2012

Penguin/Random House merger confirmed

Markus Dohle

29.10.12 | Benedicte Page

Pearson and Bertelsmann have confirmed that Penguin and Random House are to combine into a new consumer publishing organisation, Penguin Random House, with the merger expected to complete in the second half of 2013.

Bertelsmann will own 53% of the new venture and Pearson 47%; Bertelsmann gets five directors on the new board and Pearson four. Current Penguin chairman and chief executive John Makinson will be chairman of Penguin Random House with Random House chief executive Markus Dohle in the chief executive role for the new company.

However the joint venture will exclude Bertelsmann’s trade publishing business in Germany and Pearson will retain rights to use the Penguin brand in education markets worldwide.

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