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Showing posts from April, 2010

London Book Fair

I’ve received two comments about my blog about the London Book Fair published on 21 April 2010, both taking me to task for misquoting Isobel Dixon. It’s clear that I missed or misunderstood that part of the discussion concerning Foyles and its promotion policies, and I apologise unreservedly to all interested parties for getting this so wrong. It was certainly not my intention to cause embarrassment to or misrepresent any speaker, and I am very grateful to Isobel (and also to Eva) for taking the time to respond to my piece and not only put the record straight but give this insight into what are very complex issues.

Risky Literature

I’ve been at the London Book Fair for the last couple of days. It’s disorientating to go from a quiet little room of one’s own to a vast hangar full of noise and people, from writing books to the world of selling them, to a place about books where you rarely see anyone reading one. It’s all talk, and fascinating talk at that.

Amongst the many interesting events – Kate Adie interviewing Hilary Mantel, the launch of the Orange Prize short list, the Author’s Lounge, a talk on selling books and organising events – the one I enjoyed the most was a debate entitled “Not to Dare: Has British Literature become risk-averse?” Chaired by Antonia Byatt, on the panel were agent Isobel Dixon of Blake Friedmann Agency, best-selling author and co-founder of the Orange Prize Kate Mosse, and recently retired Chatto editor Alison Samuel standing in for Robert McCrum, who had been stranded by the volcano.

Antonia Byatt introduced the session by describing the work of the Arts Council in supporting litera…

He's here!

The last half of March was an anxious time. He was due to arrive on Saturday 3 April, but I was going to be in Italy and I’d miss him. We had a wonderful time visiting the Colosseum, the Forum and Castel Sant Angelo. A morning in Ostia was lovely. We went early, before the crowds, and found ourselves sharing the ruins with birds and lizards. Then on to Sorrento by way of Monte Cassino, where we visited the Polish Cemetery. I happened to be reading Richard Holmes on Wellington during the journey. The visit and the book brought back all my loathing of war, of the pomp and ceremony and cool language behind which this most dreadful of human failings is cloaked.

From these saddening thoughts on to Sorrento where as we sat carelessly eating and drinking a procession of cloaked and hooded penitents passed by. To terrible Vesuvius next and a hot walk to the top of the crater, climbing up from the ordure that infests the area around the ticket office: the dog shit and litter, dust and fume-bel…