Parliamentary Archives , Westminster. (Including all documents from both the House of Commons and Lords since 1497.)
Diverse List Of Future British Literary Stars In Latest ‘Granta’
Literary magazine Granta has just released its latest Best of Young British Novelists issue. It’s a hefty volume that comes out only once a decade, so making the cut is a major feat, putting its chosen in the company of modern literary legends like Salman Rushdie and David Mitchell.
One of the writers with a coveted spot on the list is Sarah Hall. Granta editor John Freeman tells NPR’s David Greene that he’s been reading Hall’s ornate, spooky prose for years. “She’s not yet 40 and she’s published five books … and as she’s gone on, I think her language has deepened and richened so that she’s not just a writer of landscape, she’s a writer of atmosphere,” he says. “Her recent short stories prove that she can do all of this quite remarkably in a very short form. She’s one of the best short-story writers in England today.”
Hall is at work on a new novel, called The Reservation, and it’s about a woman who’s working with a wolf pack on an Idaho reservation when she’s wooed back to the U.K. by an earl who wants her help with a wolf-related project. “He’s very involved with a self-sustaining wolf enclosure. She’s also dealing with a couple of personal issues. I don’t entirely know where things are going,” Hall says — she describes herself as not being a writer who does a lot of upfront plot planning before beginning to write. “That’s quite exciting, I mean, I can say something here and not necessarily hold myself to it. In fact, you know what, I’m going to change it to bears. Not even wolves!”
In her stories, Hall’s language is gorgeous and precise. “You have to have a respect for the language and an understanding of its musicality and its structures, its rhythms,” Hall says, “because it’s not just about calling a table a table, you know. Just describing the entrails of an animal as plush and red — well, plush is a good word. It’s kind of a beautiful image on the one hand, but it’s hopefully an image that’s successful. It’s not just visually accurate, but it’s something that will stir the reader, make them feel slightly squeamish.”
The new Granta list showcases an impressive diversity of voices — but John Freeman says that wasn’t intentional on the part of the editors. “It’s a surprise. We’ve never had a moment’s conversation about ethnicity or diversity,” he says. “The big thing is, I think, about the novel as a form — it benefits from the sound of other languages. It’s what’s made the American novel so robust, and actually, if you look at this British list, it suggests that that will not particularly be just an American quality to the novel.”
Barter Books, Alnwick. Back in April 1991, and in the face of a rather large overdraft, Mary Manley decided to open a secondhand bookshop - one that would be based on the swap system and called Barter Books. Her husband, Stuart, immediately took to the idea and suggested that Mary open the shop in the front room of what was then his small manufacturing plant, located in Alnwick’s magnificent old Victorian railway station. From that time a joint partnership was formed that would eventually result in what the New Statesman magazine would call ‘The British Library of secondhand bookshops’. It was where the original ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ WWII poster was rediscovered. (Photo by Dave Morris)
House of Cards and Borgen Writers to Collaborate
House of Cards author Michael Dobbs has revealed he is working on a “very major project” with the creator of Danish political drama Borgen.
The Conservative peer said the project had “a pretty good pedigree” and would “hopefully be on BBC screens” in 2014.
Dramatised by the BBC in 1990, Dobbs’ House of Cards novel recently inspired a US remake starring Kevin Spacey.
Borgen, created by Adam Price, tells of a politician who becomes Denmark’s first female prime minister.
Lord Dobbs confirmed to Sunday’s edition of The World This Weekendon Radio 4 that he had “got together” with Price to work.
No details of the collaboration were forthcoming, though the author and politician did express an interest in telling the “real story” of Denis Thatcher.
“What a brilliant, brilliant character to base a play on,” he said of Margaret Thatcher’s late husband, describing him as “misunderstood” and “wonderfully strong”.
The original House of Cards told of a conniving chief whip, played by Ian Richardson, who uses duplicity and guile to have himself elevated to the post of Conservative prime minister.
The US remake, produced by the online streaming service Netflix, stars Kevin Spacey and relocates the action to Washington DC.
Capless, conscious of that cold patch on my head
where my father’s genes have made me almost bald
I walk along the street where he dropped dead,
my hair cut his length now, although I’m called
poet, in my passport. When it touched my ears
he dubbed me Paganniny and it hurt.
I did then, and do now, choke back my tears –
Wi’ ‘air like that you ought to wear a skirt!
If I’d got a violin for every day
he’d said weer’s thi fiddle? at my flowing hair
I’d have a whole string orchestra to play
romantic background as once more I’m there
where we went for forced fortnightly clip
now under new, less shearing, ownership,
and in the end it’s that that makes me cry –
JOE’S SALOON’s become CURL UP & DYE!
Decline in Independent Bookshops Continues with 73 Closures in 2012
The UK loses 7% of its remaining independent bookshops in the past year, with the total down a third since 2005
Another 73 independent booksellers shut up shop in 2012 – more than one casualty for every week of the year – bringing the number left in the UK down to just 1,028.
Much-loved community stores including Langton’s Bookshop in Twickenham, which had been in business for more than half a century,Walkers Bookshop in Sleaford and Baytree Books of Waterlooville all closed down last year, said the Booksellers Association, which is calling for the government and the publishing industry to “act urgently” to improve conditions for booksellers on the high street. Other victims include Farthing Books in Coulsdon and a number of independent Christian booksellers.
This is the seventh year running in which the number of independent booksellers in the UK has fallen. The UK boasted 1,535 independent bookstores in 2005, a third of which have now closed as booksellers struggle with the pressures of recession and competition from Amazon and the supermarkets.
“Closures are always painful and we were saddened to see many bookshops closing last year. The balance of risk in bookselling has changed for good and now sits disproportionately with the bookseller,” said Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association. “Bookshops are important community and cultural hubs, which also provide an important educational resource for all. Sadly, the overall picture in terms of the number of independent booksellers in the UK is still one of contraction.”
The Booksellers Association, which represents over 95% of UK booksellers, did provide a ray of light amid the gloom: 39 bookshops opened last year. Children’s bookshops are also “bucking the trend” of decline, according to the association, with no reported closures in 2012 and the opening of two new shops. Brentwood’s Chicken and Frog andCrouch End’s Pickled Pepper are both “breathing new life into their high streets”, said the organisation. “New and emerging booksellers … are kicking down barriers and fighting back,” said Godfray.
Secret Natural History Museum in Sheffield now open to the public, home to a skull model of a “Terror Bird,” an extinct type of carnivorous flightless bird that could stand up to ten feet tall.