Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More reviews. One, largely glowing, in the Grauniad from Kit Hesketh-Harvey, whose work with the Widow I've always liked. Another, broadly favourable but concerned about areas I missed, in the Sunday Telegraph from Peter Bazalgette, about whose work I am divided. His part in bringing Big Brother to our screens makes me want to ask him outside for a frank exchange of views, but this transgression is almost counter-balanced by his involvement with the development of Deal or No Deal. Meanwhile, in the November Literary Review, Andrew Barrow calls me "scholarly", but wishes I'd been a bit nastier and says that there's too much Bill Cotton Junior in it. Barrow also asks (as does Kit H-H) who gives a toss about ATV, Associated-Rediffusion and the defunct dinosaurs of early ITV? Well, I do, hence their inclusion. The reviews prove that it's impossible to please everyone, and that, however you write, something that one reader loves, another reader will almost certainly hate. All you can do is write the sort of book you'd want to read yourself, and hope that some other bugger will too.

Of course, all of the nice reviews in the world are useless if the book can't be bought anywhere. At my hometown Waterstone's, Mrs Cheeseford tripped over ceiling-high piles of Why Do I Say These Things? by Jonathan Ross and At My Mother's Knee...and Other Low Joints by Paul O'Grady to discover that they have no intention of stocking Turned Out Shite Again, despite me being all over local radio like a cheap suit. On a flying business visit to London yesterday, I popped in to Waterstone's on Oxford Street. Nada. The gigantic Borders had one copy, which the very nice bookseller chap in films and media invited me to sign. I suspect that 90% of any sales I garner will take place through Amazon. Talking of which, one of their used and new affiliates was punting the work out for £6.99, which is about half of what my publisher would charge me, even with my author's discount. Over lunch, brer publisher mused that it was almost certainly a books desk junior staff member supplementing their meagre income. As indeed I did myself when on Publishing News. Good luck to 'em.

Incidentally, I haven't read the aforementioned O'Grady book, but intend to fully when I get a chance. I approve of it already for signalling a return to showbiz autobiographies with amusing titles. We've had too many years of Ronseal drabness like Dale: My Story and Bruce: the Autobiography. A showbiz memoir should have a funny title, preferably one that makes no sense until you've read the book, like Shake a Pagoda Tree by Mike and Bernie Winters or Michael Aspel's Polly Wants a Zebra. Any other good ones spring to mind?


Alex George said...

All in all, a fine review, I think. You're right - you can't please all the people all the time. What pissed me off was the bit at the end about cliches. I mean, what a cliche. Whenever reviewers can't think of anything else to say, they trawl through and pick out a few. After all, every book in the world has 'em. And often, in context, they are perfectly all right. So why haul them out and proffer them up for derision? Lazy, lazy.

Andy said...

It'd be entirely unprofessional for me to suggest that Amazon will end up being the natural, most lucrative, and possibly only place for Mrs Cheeseford to look for Turned Out Nice Again II, and I should point out that neither of the two vendors have anything bookwise to do with my day job.

But by god, it's a celebrity-profiled-and-supplier-supported-mess out there on the high street, as you rightly point out, Mr B.

(I should acknowledge at this point that it's been that way for yonks in the book and ents trade for donkeys, but it still grinds the gears when the good isn't allowed a decent chance at being out.)

Apres la Guerre said...

Too much ATV, A-R, etc? Why not take that to its logical extreme and suggest that 90% of the book should have been excised as it deals with now-dead people, and is thus irrelevant? What you really need is to bring out an overpriced volume about Russell Brand.

Oh, and I'd be all over somebody writing a book called, "Bruce: Cunt", be it about Forsyth or Springsteen. (But never Johnston. Don't diss da Broooooce.)

Phil Norman said...

Seeing as one review complains of too much backroom detail, and the other of not enough, I'd say you've got things about right. (Just coming into the home straight with the book myself, and loving every minute of it - great to see a mention of Tom Noddy, for instance.)

LF Barfe said...

When I interviewed him, John Fisher was very pleased that I remembered Tom Noddy and his act in such detail 20-odd years on. I hadn't cheated and searched for clips online, either. Cuboid bubbles make an indelible impression on a 10-year-old.