Further Grapes & Excavated Oldies

It’s just endless – two updates in a single year. I must be back in business. Apologies for the spam, anyway.

Sour Grapes has been out for a few weeks now, and we’ve been having a blast with it. I didn’t think it would find a publisher (if you’ve read it you’ll understand why) and expected to release it from the kitchen table – I couldn’t afford to have it bound, so the plan was to print 200 copies on loose leaves, just to get it out there. But things have turned out a lot rosier than I’d anticipated. Not only have Eye/Lightning taken it on, but they’ve also produced a really handsome edition. As a reader I’m normally in the wait-for-the-paperback camp, and I expect you are too, but it really is worth making an exception for this. The book looks so great, with Andrea Joseph’s illustrations all over it, that it’s worth getting a copy even if you have no intention of reading it. It’s an objet d’art, people. 

That said, you should read it, if you haven’t yet done so (and if you’ve bought a copy you are officially a Local Hero). Another pleasant surprise has been the amount of positive press we’ve had. The only exceptions that I know about were The Guardian (I’ve not seen their review, but I’m told that some mystified prof started crying because he didn’t get the jokes – there’s always one) and, sadly, Private Eye, who inexplicably enlisted a dismal book trade patsy with a personal axe to grind, who proceeded to announce that my gags about the publishing business were off-target because it is in fact an egalitarian paradise. I predicted exactly this kind of thing in the book, so I suppose there’s some grim amusement to be had in seeing them so glumly take the bait. They also attempted to prove their point by making up things that just don’t happen in the story, and presenting their Jonah Lehrer-esque hallucinations as examples of how out of touch I am with the cheerful and lucrative world of writing. Desperate. Anyway, bollocks to dingy dickheads – the overwhelming majority of the reviews have been great. Get a load of this, for example.

There’s also been a feature in the i newspaper, in which I witter on about how much I dislike senior publishers, etc. The usual routine. Our eldest took the photo. 

Massive thanks to everyone who’s been bigging up the book. We’re a shoestring operation, and since we can’t afford a saturation billboard campaign we’re 98% dependent on people who have enjoyed it spreading the word. If you’ve been doing this, you are officially a National Hero.

And that’s not all for this update. Part Two is coming.

Here it is. Part Two. At some point during the Great Trauma, where I had to go in with grenades and pull my first eight books out of print, I managed to save a load of unsold copies from the mincer. Since then they’ve sat in boxes in the cellar, getting in the way. Sometimes I stub my toe on them when I go down to get a screwdriver or a tin of beans. I couldn’t work out what to do with them, and plenty of times thought about taking them to the tip. They were taking up space, and were a constant reminder of the ongoing debacle – not something I wanted to be confronted with when going down to read the meters. Flogging them from home would have been too time consuming, but Wife-features always stopped me from skipping them, and I’m glad she did. Now that I have a new book out, and no longer feel as if my life’s work is down the dumper, morale has reached the giddy heights where I’ve been able to bring myself to look inside the boxes and see what we’ve got. Quite a lot, as it goes. So…

…I’ve teamed up with The Big Green Bookshop, who are long-standing good guys of bookselling, and they’re going to be my official outlet for these oldies. So far I’ve unearthed brand new copies of all my backlist except for Don’t Tell Me the Truth About Love and The Little White Car (though these may yet turn up in future excavations – stay tuned). There were even a few copies of the elusive Gold down there. The Big Green Bookshop are selling them at sensible prices, and you can find all the details here. So once you’ve read Sour Grapes, and bought copies for all your friends and family, and even for people you don’t know particularly well, you can hotfoot it over to their site and fill your boots. I seem to be signing them as well.

[Please never pay more than the RRP for one of my books. Some of them have been spotted at silly money prices. I need to get them republished somehow, but in the meantime this is an excellent way to get them back in circulation. Public libraries should be able to get hold of them too.]

In other news, my big end-of-year fiction recommendation is Keigo Higashino. Over the last few weeks I’ve been reading my way through all his novels in English – tragically there are tons that haven’t been translated yet. Start anywhere, they’re all high-end page-turners. I’ve hardly read anything that isn’t Japanese mystery fiction lately, but Rachel Trezise has a new one out – Easy Meat – and I wasn’t going to miss that. She still rules. 

Non-fictionwise, I’ve been going on about the brilliant Round About Town by Kevin Boniface for some time. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a postie working in and around Huddersfield, now’s your chance to find out. 

And for the younger generation, Grimwood by Nadia Shireen is unmissable – really funny, and bang out of order. It’s up there with Mr Gum, and I don’t say that lightly.

And that’s that. I promise not to bother you again until some time in 2022. In the meantime, please make sure you buy all my available books as a matter of urgency.

Happy reading,