Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Between the Covers

Our Literary Editor looks back on an eventful year in publishing and takes his pick from the lists for the year to come.

Another season, another year and already it's time to be checking out the runners and riders in the coming round of Literary Prizes. Last year was the year of Daphne Arnott with I Never Kissed the Dandelions, her heartfelt monologue on the pains of growing up in a family of writers and agents, all within screaming distance of Muswell Hill. This year sees the publication of its eagerly awaited sequel, And The Moon Cried Too, a moving memoir of sibling rivalry and the constant pressures on a gifted child in a high-aspiring household.

Daphne and her sister Chloe were co-founders of the Sauvignon Prize, set up to recognise the work of established women writers working in the genre of semi-autobiographical fiction. Expect sparks to fly during the deliberations of the jury for the Latte Prize, with both sisters named as judges to serve on this year's panel. Meanwhile, Chloe Arnott has herself been shortlisted for the Hartland Prize with Scratch, her funny, sad, searing account of powerful emotion and taut relationships in the family of a North London writer (pubd by Snicket & Tongs).

From the same publishing house comes Thrusday, a harrowing chronicle of the author's long battle to come to terms with a writing disorder for which there is no known cure. It is by Phoebe Arnott, stepsister to the above (and wittily dubbed by critics Arnott Another).

Writing problems were at the heart of last year's other big hit, They Couldn't Even Write Their Name by top ghostwriter Norm de Plume. Winner of the prestigious Mimi Prize for Autobiography, Plume wowed audiences at Literary Festivals with his warm and touching revelations of the private lives of stars from television and sport and their struggles to put pen to paper.

No doubt these celebs will soon be lining up to buy Apostrophe's Calling, Philippe Lonquaire's warm-hearted discourse on the busy life of the ubiquitous little mark. This follows the publication last year of Semi-Colon by the same author, a monolithic study of the uses and abuses ('semi-colonic irrigation') of the oft misunderstood dot-comma, bringing with it unusual insights into the role played by the semi-colon in world history.

Ending on a lighter note, with popular choices for bedside reading, Stacey Arnott's Writer's Bonk takes an affectionate peek at what goes on behind the scenes at some of this country's best-loved literary festivals. And finally, with Willie Wonga Does It Again (by Hilary Whynott), fans of the libidinous banker can immerse themselves in the further outpourings of the Casanova of Canary Wharf.

Happy Reading!


  1. Wonderful ! A brilliant de-bunk.

  2. I once had a splendid de-bunk bed. But it wasn't possible to keep a mattress in place.

  3. Congrats, Oby. You're the first with the de-bunking gag.

  4. I used to have a de-bunk bed, too, but the bottom kept falling out. So did mine

  5. If that's your real name, perhaps you'd like to write a short piece for us, all about how absolutely dreadful life has been for you so far.

  6. It would be a very long piece. Sure you can take it?

  7. There you go, you see ? Rude little double entendres - something The Pangolin really doesn't approve of - but help is on hand if you feel you need it. A small but worthwhile step might be to change your name. General Wanker instead of Major Wanker might be a good start. Then we could refer you to our experienced and discreet team of counsellors who might gradually turn you away from sneaky rudeness, towards a more adult sense of humour. ARSE ! Blast these new pills.


Go on... you want to say SOMETHING, don't you? Post under a made-up name if you're shy!