Hatchets and Hodge: Quirky facts and figures from the publishing world

A hatchet is taken to Morrissey

You might think that most literary prizes emphasised the positive but the British have a snarky prize that is firmly based on negatives. It’s the Hatchet Job of the Year Award and it’s for the best slag off review from a book reviewer. This year the nominees included Peter Kemp (Sunday Times) who slapped down Donna Tartt’s The gold-finch, Frederic Raphael (Times Literary Supplement) who launched his vitriol at John Le Carre’s A delicate truth and David Sexton (Evening Standard) who wasn’t awed by Man Booker winners and took issue with Eleanor Catton’s The luminaries.

Cover of AutobiographyBut the winner was A.A. Gill for his ‘expert caning’ of Morrissey and his Autobiography:

The first quarter is devoted to growing up in Manchester (where he was born in 1959) and his schooling. This is laughably overwrought and overwritten, a litany of retrospective hurt and score-settling that reads like a cross between Madonna and Catherine Cookson.

Patricia Hodge

Fans of Miranda Hart will understand why Patricia Hodge, who plays Miranda’s mother, has called her forthcoming autobiography, My life in, what I call, a book.

Z for Zachariah

Cover of Z for ZachariahLately Hollywood has latched on to YA (young adult) titles for the big screen treatment. Previously, a number of YA novels made it to the screen but in the format of a television movie (such as Z for Zachariah, now being remade as a biggish Hollywood film on location in Port Levy with a Home and away name in the cast). Major reasons for the number of film versions of YA novels are the enormous success of the Hunger games and the Twilight franchises. Upcoming are adaptations of Veronica Roth’s Divergent, John Green’s The fault in our stars, Lauren Kate’s Fallen, Tim Tharp’s The spectacular now, Lois Lowry’s The giver and more.

There is another reason which has been under-played: YA novels usually can get in under the rating radar as PG in America as the R rating can limit audience numbers. There is, as well, to be fair, the fact that they have strong storylines.

Publishing picks

Publishers Weekly gives overseas bestseller lists from time to time and it’s interesting to see whether the US/UK/downunder market is echoed by titles in other languages. Recently Stephen King is up there in the top three for the French and the Spanish while the biggest seller in Germany for some time is the new one from the author of that eccentric novel about the 100 year old man who jumped out of the window. Top Spanish title is La vida es un regalo, the autobiography of a Spanish racing driver who died just before the book was launched while German readers can’t get enough of a style manual by designer Guido M. Kretschmer.

All over Europe the mania for crime novels is the same as in the English speaking world but Scandinavian crime, while still big, is not as big as it was and every country is fielding a crime writer to try and equal Nordic crime.

James Patterson

Cover of Private LAIn the time it took me to write this there’s probably been two James Patterson novels produced. Many of them these days are by other authors (24 have been used now it seems) as Mr Patterson “defines the brand” and lets his sort of co-authors go to it. Stephen King, who actually totally writes his books himself, called Mr Patterson “a terrible writer” but every airport bookshop around the world can tell you they sell more of James P. than anyone else as you know exactly what you are going to get.

Philip Tew

One thought on “Hatchets and Hodge: Quirky facts and figures from the publishing world

  1. purplerulz 5 March 2014 / 7:37 pm

    The review of Morrisey is just a wonderful piece of writing…laughed out loud in several places.

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