Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mission: Literarti

"Have you bought the times today?" asked one of the fairer librarians, today.

I hadn't of course, I never buy papers! Why would she ask me such a question. Kuh! Does this require a reponse?

"If you buy the Times from WH Smith today, you can buy Salley Vickers's Mr Golightly's Holiday for 99p."

What? Where? Needless to say, I grabbed my wallet and ran for the centre of town. I still haven't read The Other Side of You that Salley very nicely signed for me a month ago (I'm really very bad with keeping up with this, having failed to read Freya North, Adelle Parks, Colin Dexter, Anne Widdecombe, the other Jodi Picoult, Lionel Schriver and Tracey Chevalier - all are sitting on the "signed author" shelf at home, just waiting for someone to put them out of their misery). So, why is it that I need another book, I probably won't get around to reading?

The simple answer is I'm a sucker for a cheapie book, especially one written by some nice lady who was more than happy to let me interview her - check out my interview, if you haven't downloaded it from my website, on the next Litopia podcast... oooooh!

I used to trawl second hand bookshops as a kid on holiday - any town or village we entered and whilst my brother zipped off to the arcades, I'd instead be fingering many a loose-leafed paperback. As long as there was a wealth of decrepit looking seconds, filled with worlds of death and intrigue (fantasy only mind you), then I was a happy bunny. It's there that I first fell in love with Clive Barker - no, not like that. Yes, I know he's gay! No, that's not the point! Look, I may act camp, but I'm not. No, I'm not homophobic. Would you stop?

Anyhoo, so, I struck out for Smiths (on the other side of the town centre) and there I am faced with the tortuous task of avoiding teens dressed in red, trying to guilt-trip the unassuming, happy public into giving all their dough to Save The Children - not that I'm against saving the children. But, I'm on a righteous (yes, self-righteous) mission, and I can't be stopped by someone who, let's be honest, I'm not going to give my credit card details too, but will still have to flee in a guilt fervour.

As it was, I didn't have to, there were far easier people to tap than me... this time... but as I passed I got the sense that these new age scrabblers were either smarter than the average, had been taking lessons in sales tactics, or, worse, been members of Jevhova's Witnesseseses - for they spoke to strangers like friends they'd known for years, nay, brothers and sisters of their own family. One shook the hands of someone they'd just met. I'm sure Solvey could tell us more on how all this works to goad the member of the public into a world of debt through guilt, but by-the-by, it felt kinda creepy. "Welcome to our cult"

Anyhoo, that's not why I'm writing. I wanted to say how cool it was, having finally got Ms Vickers's novel, to see a bonus in the back pages. Reading Groups are becomming a real big thing these days, especially with Richard and Judy paving the way (as an aside, Mr Cox's Litopian Podcast 2 had a dialogue with a couple of US agents who said that whereas with Richard and Judy the books are paid to make it onto TV, Oprah's show specifically chooses the books [strictly no buy ins]).

Erm, yes... at the back of the book is a PS section detailing extra insights, interviews, similar books, themes and references, etc - which is a nice addition that draws in the extra depth of creation - kind of like DVD extras - though it would be even better to have a USB flasdrive with this included - though a tad more expensive. I think I'll stick to my 99p version, whether I get round to reading it or not.

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