Friday, June 26, 2009

R.I.P. Jacko

Michael Jackson first entered a recording studio in November 1967, just three months after his ninth birthday. Two years later he and his older brothers scored their first hit, 'I Want You Back' - and, despite set-backs that would have ended the career of a lesser man, Michael's legion of fans remain as loyal today as they have ever been. This is the story of the man and his music.

Michael Jackson: For the Record
Chris Cadman
Hardcover, 412 pages
2.90 cms H x 24.21 cms L x 16.33 cms W
EAN 9780755202676
February 01, 2007
Authors Online
Available to order - 2 weeks

Order from Pulp Books

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Here’s a Clue: Mr. Kumar, With a Gun, in India

“Q&A,” the novel that became the basis for the smash-hit film “Slumdog Millionaire,” used questions from a television quiz show to prompt flashbacks about its main character’s life story. Here’s a question for its author, Vikas Swarup: Can a novel be any more high-concept than that?

Yes it can. Mr. Swarup’s second novel, “Six Suspects,” is a Bollywood version of the board game Clue with a strain of screwball comedy thrown in. Its stock characters are easily identified: the Bureaucrat, the Actress, the Tribal, the Thief, the Politician and the American. Each attended the party at which a man named Vicky Rai, a playboy film producer, was murdered. Each has a gun and a motive. And although the story’s geographical span is even bigger than India, the whole thing feels handily confined to the kind of isolated, air-tight setting that Agatha Christie’s readers love.

Thanks to such a schematic setup “Six Suspects” is gleeful, sneaky fun. But it’s also a much more freewheeling book than the format implies. Mr. Swarup, an Indian diplomat, brings a worldly range of attributes to his potentially simple story. And he winds up delivering a rambling critique of Indian culture, taking shots at everything from racism to reality TV. Yet Mr. Swarup’s style stays light and playful, preferring to err on the side of broad high jinks rather than high seriousness. A fizzy romp seems to be the main thing he has in mind.

- Janet Maslin, New York Times

Read the rest of the review here.

Read an excerpt from 'Six Suspects' here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Top 10 literary ménages à trois

Ewan Morrison is the author of three novels which explore modern relationships and sexuality: Ménage, Distance and Swung. Ménage, his most recent novel, is the story of three bohemians in a ménage à trois in 90s London.

"The ménage à trois is a rich and rarified fictional seam which arose in the 19th century and originated from memoirs or fictionalised accounts of real-life events. The number of ménages à trois (as yet barely documented) which occurred in the lives of artists, writers and leaders from the 19th century to the present day – from DH Lawrence and George Bernard Shaw to Pablo Picasso and Jack Kerouac – is intriguing, and begs the question: was the ménage à trois the ideal (if publicly unacceptable) lifestyle of the modern 'radical'?"

1. Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway

The erotic novel that Hemingway suppressed during his own lifetime, and left incomplete on his death, is set in the Cote d'Azur in the 1920s and tells the story of an author, his adventurous wife, and the psycho-sexual games they play while sharing a young woman. It is largely held to be autobiographical.

2. Jules et Jim by Henri Pierre Roche

Adapted for film, starring Jeanne Moreau, by Francois Truffaut in 1961, the original novel was based on Roche's own experiences with a German couple, the Hessels, between the wars. Roche's seven-volume diary of his many loves and love triangles, which include those with noted surrealists and dadaists, remains unpublished to this day.

3. Politics by Adam Thirlwell

An eccentric, contemporary, urbane ménage à trois with a half-Jewish male, a daddy's girl and a bisexual Indian actress. Meditations on the sex life of Adolf Hitler and Chairman Mao are intercut with descriptions of London and extreme sexual acts in this multicultural mélange that screws around with form as much as it does with character and race.

- Ewan Morrison,

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Can South Africa's literary community turn a new page?

The country's once-struggling book industry is now booming, but more needs to be done to encourage reading amongst the entire population.

Last month I visited my brother in Cape Town. He put together the most amazing itinerary: the "big five" in Kruger National Park; lounging on the beach and watching the cold surf in Kleinmond; seafood on the seashore in Hermanus; wine and escargots in Franschhoek for the price of burgers and coke back home; flowers and weddings in the Company Gardens, and hiking up Lion's Head.

But what I was by far the most grateful for was the tireless manner in which he drove me to every bookstore I could find, and his patience as I browsed through miles of new and used books. After which, I can happily report that Cape Town and its environs is home not only to the world's most fecund floral kingdom, but also a thriving literary life.

Almost everyone I met spoke of Cape Town's growing literary community; of how the industry had turned itself around after years of neglect by the chains, independent bookstores such as The Book Lounge and Kalk Bay Books were now. As the Lounge's Mervyn Sloman put it, they were: "filling the void, treating customers with respect, hiring people passionate about the profession, and caring about more than just stock turnover".

- Nigel Beale,

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm Only Being Honest

The joy I get from helping little people stand taller is unbounded. That's why I insist midgets have boxes to stand on.

Contra-BLOODY-ception. Why don't kids bother? I never wore a condom when I was young, but then no one ever wanted to shag me.

- excerpts from The Digested Read of Jeremy Kyle's 'I'm Only Being Honest' by Jim Crace,

Read the whole digested read here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Sky Is Falling Soon! (And Junior Is Agitated)

As Ron Currie Jr.’s new book begins, an omniscient voice gives instruction to a baby boy still in utero. “First, enjoy this time!” the voice says. “Never again will you bear so little responsibility for your own survival.”

The voice goes on to outline what the unborn child can expect from life. The child will learn to walk. After that, it’s told, “you must learn to run, share, swing a bat and hold a pencil, love, weep, read, tie your shoelaces, bathe and die.” Die? Already? How? The voice helpfully proclaims that 36 years and 168 days after the child is born a runaway comet will smash violently into planet Earth.What these opening passages also announce is that Mr. Currie is a startlingly talented writer whose book will pay no heed to ordinary narrative conventions. His thoughts on cosmic doom somehow take the form of a joyride. He survives the inevitable, apt comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut and writes in a tenderly mordant voice of his own.

- Janet Maslin, New York Times

Read the rest of the review here.

Read an excerpt of 'Everything Matters!' here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Three books about surfing

The imagery of surfing is everywhere. In Las Vegas casinos, posters of bronzed surfers tucking into turquoise tubes are as prevalent as those of diamond-bedecked women and fast cars. The message - that surfing offers a slice of paradise - is unambiguous. It has been enthusiastically co-opted by any number of mainstream brands, including Pepsi, which produced an advert in which David Beckham was cast as a surf dude, and American Express, which produced a series of commercials in which the Hawaiian big-wave surfing legend Laird Hamilton was as much a star as were the likes of Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese.
- Alex Wade, Times Online

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Girls of Summer

While we're freezing in our South African winter, The New York Times discusses their Summer reads for the fairer sex.

The “Commencement” characters are savvy about, among other things, feminism and publishing. “When a woman writes a book that has anything to do with feelings or relationships, it’s either called chick lit or women’s fiction, right?” one of them asks. “But look at Updike, or Irving. Imagine if they’d been women. Just imagine. Someone would have slapped a pink cover onto ‘Rabbit at Rest,’ and poof, there goes the ... Pulitzer.”

They’re right of course. But this is the season when prettily designed books flood the market and compete for female readers. It’s a time when literary and lightweight books aimed at women become hard to tell apart. Their covers use standard imagery: sand, flowers, cake, feet, houses, pastel colors, the occasional Adirondack chair. Their titles (“Summer House,” “Dune Road,” “The Wedding Girl,” “Trouble”) skew generic. And they tend to be blurbed exclusively by women.

- Janet Maslin, New York Times.

Read the rest of the reviews here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The new children's laureate Anthony Browne

Take a stroll through the surreal world of children's illustrator Anthony Browne and his award-winning drawings here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Where the wildest literary rascals are

Spike Jonze and his Where the Wild Things Are team have made some lame picks in their list of top 10 literary rascals.

Literature is full of rascals. Mischievous, naughty, covered in mud and poking sticks at snails, staying out past their bedtimes and getting into scrapes and mishaps. Rascals, rapscallions, rogues, the lot of 'em.

But is the list of top 10 rascals in literature provided by the We Love You So blog accurate? Fans of arch-rascal Max in Maurice Sendak's sublime and enduring children's picture book Where the Wild Things Are will recognise the name of the blog from the growled plea by the assorted Wild Things at the close of the adventure, when they implore Max to remain on their island with the rather dubious promise "We'll eat you up, we love you so!" The journal is part production diary, part list of influences and general good stuff put together by the film director Spike Jonze and his team, who are behind the much-anticipated big-screen version of Sendak's book, due to hit cinemas this October.

The blog's recent list of rascals does, naturally, put Max at the top, and perhaps there's no argument with that - he does, after all, get sent to bed without his supper after chasing the dog with a fork and telling his mum he'll eat her up. It also points out that this is a provisional list, and that detailed analysis explaining why the names have been included is to follow. But do their following choices really hit the mark when it comes to great rascals?

- David Barnett,

Read the rest of the post here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

No Place Like Home

The Orange Prize for Fiction was announced last night and the winner is:

Marilynne Robinson
Hardcover, 325 pages
2.92 cms H x 21.64 cms L x 16.41 cms W
EAN 9780374299101
September 2008
Farrar Straus Giroux
Available to order – 2 weeks

Jack is one of the great characters in recent literature. A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, he is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton's most beloved child. Brilliant, lovable, and wayward, Jack forges an intense bond with Glory and engages painfully with Ames, his godfather and namesake. "Home" is a moving and healing book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith. It is Robinson's greatest work, an unforgettable embodiment of the deepest and most universal emotions.

'Robinson makes us understand home isn’t just a place—it’s something we carry with us.'

The Shortlist:

The Invention Of Everything Else
Samantha Hunt
Paperback, 257 pages
1.65 cms H x 20.32 cms L x 13.56 cms W
EAN 9780547085777
March 2009
Mariner Books
Available to order – 2 weeks

Hunt's novel is a wondrous imagining of an unlikely friendship between the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla and a young chambermaid in the Hotel New Yorker, where Tesla lived out his last days.

Ellen Feldman
Paperback, 363 pages
2.79 cms H x 20.57 cms L x 13.72 cms W
EAN 9780393333527
May 2009
W. W. Norton & Company
Available to order – 2 weeks

Alabama, 1931. A posse stops a freight train and arrests nine black youths. Their crime: fighting with white boys. When two white girls emerge from another freight car, the cry of rape goes up. One of the girls sticks to her story. The other changes her tune, again and again. Told through the eyes of a young journalist who fights to save the nine youths from the electric chair, Scottsboro is a novel of a shocking injustice that convulsed the nation and reverberated around the world.

Burnt Shadows
Kamila Shamsie
Paperback, 370 pages
3.05 cms H x 20.57 cms L x 13.46 cms W
EAN 9780312551872
April 2009
Picador USA
Available to order – 2 weeks

Sweeping in scope and mesmerizing in its evocation of time and place, "Burnt Shadows" is an epic narrative of disasters eluded and confronted, loyalties offered and repaid, and loves rewarded and betrayed.

The Wilderness
Samantha Harvey
Hardcover, 371 pages
3.23 cms H x 21.59 cms L x 15.60 cms W
EAN 9780385527637
February 2009
Nan A. Talese
Available to order – 2 weeks

It's Jake's birthday. He is sitting in a small plane, being flown over the landscape that has been the backdrop to his life - his childhood, his marriage, his work, his passions. Now he is in his mid-sixties, and he isn't quite the man he used to be. He has lost his wife, his son is in prison, and he is about to lose his past. Jake has Alzheimer's.
As the disease takes hold of him, Jake struggles to hold on to his personal story, to his memories and identity, but they become increasingly elusive and unreliable. What happened to his daughter? Is she alive, or long dead? And why exactly is his son in prison? What went so wrong in his life? There was a cherry tree once, and a yellow dress, but what exactly do they mean? As Jake fights the inevitable dying of the light, the key events of his life keep changing as he tries to grasp them, and what until recently seemed solid fact is melting into surreal dreams or nightmarish imaginings. Is there anything he'll be able to salvage from the wreckage? Beauty, perhaps, the memory of love, or nothing at all?

Molly Fox's Birthday
Deirdre Madden
Paperback, 240 pages
EAN 9780571239665
July 2009
Faber and Faber
Available to order – 3 weeks

Dublin. Midsummer. While absent in New York, the celebrated actor Molly Fox has loaned her house to a playwright friend, who is struggling to write a new work. Over the course of this, the longest day of the year, the playwright reflects upon her own life, Molly's, and that of their mutual friend Andrew, whom she has known since university. Why does Molly never celebrate her own birthday, which falls upon this day? What does it mean to be a playwright or an actor? How have their relationships evolved over the course of many years? "Molly Fox's Birthday" calls into question the ideas that we hold about who we are; and shows how the past informs the present in ways we might never have imagined.

For more info go to

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pop-up Princes

Meet Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart, the two artists who have single-handedly (well, with four hands) revived the pop-up book for a new millennium. Chances are your child owns one of their awe-inspiring creations, be it The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with its spinning paper cyclone, or Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs with its jaw-gnashing T-Rex. Maybe you've received one as a gift yourself, from a friend who appreciates your inner child.

- Gwynne Watkins & Paul Barman

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How To Keep Awake While Reading

The rules for reading yourself to sleep are much easier to follow than are the rules for keeping awake while reading. Just get into bed in a comfortable position, see that the light is inadequate enough to cause a slight eyestrain, choose something you don't care whether or not you read, and unless you have insomnia, you will be nodding soon enough. Those who are expert in relaxing with a book don't have to wait for nightfall or for bed. A comfortable chair in the library will do at anytime.

- An essay by the late philosopher Mortimer Adler. Read the rest here.