Sunday, May 24, 2009

BBC Book Cafe 25 May

This week on the Book Cafe we have some interesting stuff, mostly about language. Are our teenagers suffering from ‘word poverty’ despite the fact that a new word becomes part of the language every 98 minutes? Linguist David Crystal gives his thoughts. And are soap operas responsible for pupils describing Shakespearean characters as ‘high maintenance’ who need to ‘move on’? River City’s Libby McArthur takes up the challenge of defending ‘soap speak’. Who do the crime writers turn to when they need advice on police techniques and forensic routines – ex coppers Tom Wood and Karen Campbell reveal the kind of questions they get asked by authors wanting to get their facts straight.

I've also just heard from Sarah Kersley, whose bookshop in Brazil I featured at the start of May, will also be on the show. The power of the t'internet!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book Cafe 18 May

Roll out those beach towels…the summer is just about here! But what will we all be reading on the beach & in the airports this year? The Book Cafe will be previewing all the major fiction releases across Scotland in the next few months… What do the large retailers think will be the most popular? Any hidden gems we haven’t previously heard about?

Clare English will also chat to one of the world’s top rare book dealers Rick Gekoski – who has been plied with alcohol by Graham Greene, threatened with a law suit by J. D. Salinger, berated by Ted Hughes, and helped J.R.R Tolkien move house…

Plus a look at international crime fiction and a report from the Christian Aid book sale in Edinburgh.

Getting Closer to Buddy Holly

Spencer Leigh writes meticulously researched books on music. His most recent title is Everyday: Getting Closer to Buddy Holly and it is a fantastic piece of work that will delight any fan of Buddy and anyone interested in musical and cultural history. Spencer has interviewed countless numbers of people who knew Buddy, worked with him or were simply touched by his music. In the introduction Spencer writes. "In 1984 Ian Dury made an album called 4000 Weeks Holiday. The title scared the hell out of me because I realised that's all the time we've got on earth." Well my advice is to spend part of one of those weeks reading Spencer's book. You can see details HERE before popping into your local bookshop to order and buy it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Looking for Agnès: a tale of passion and paper trails

It looks like there's another enticing event at Mainstreet Trading in St Boswells, following last week's excellent James Runcie talk. This one is on 26 May and details are available HERE

Barbara Mellor will be talking about her work translating the remarkable WW2 diary, Resistance by Agnès Humbert. Barbara's passion for the history of the French Resistance grew from her love for France, where she has lived on and off for many years, and her work as a translator specialising in books on French art and history. When she stumbled upon Agnès Humbert's original French diary, Notre Guerre, she knew she had found something extraordinary; she took it to an editor at Bloomsbury, and within eighteen months it had been published to acclaim in ten languages. Barbara will be talking about how she found the French diary and unearthed details of Agnès Humbert's remarkable life and family; the experience of translating Résistance and bringing this forgotten voice to a far greater audience; and the continuing story of new discoveries since publication of the hardback edition in 2008.

I've read the book – it's brilliant; so I can't wait to hear the story behind its writing.

Radio Scotland's Book Cafe 11 May

A great show is in store on Monday with the legendary journalist, broadcaster and sixties icon, Dame Joan Bakewell. She's now added novelist to her list of talents. In Monday's Book Café, recorded at Glasgow's Aye Write Festival, she talks to Clare English about her book 'All The Nice Girls' and about her life and career, which included a brief spell as the model for Tampax!

Monday, May 4, 2009

There's An Awfully Good Book Shop Down in Brazil

Now we all know there's an awful lot of Coffee in Brazil, courtesy of Mr Sinatra, but did you know there's a great bookshop that stocks English language books? Not just English language either; it has new and used books in 15 different languages. I know this because Sarah Rebecca Kersley emailed me from Itacaré, in Bahia state in Northeast Brazil to tell me about her shop that opened in 2007. Sarah discovered the blog after listening online to the book café on Radio Scotland...isn't the web wonderful?

Sarah graduated from Glasgow University and headed south to open the Urso de Óculos bookshop (the name means "The Spectacled Bear"). It is the only bookshop in the town that has a population of 22 000. Since opening in 2007, the space has become increasingly popular as an international meeting point, a local community book exchange and host to regular cultural events. Sarah is a British translator who has lived in Brazil since 2005 and besides the books it also serves espresso coffee (made from the billions of beans down in Brazil no doubt), hot chocolate and Twinings tea (apparently all three are very difficult to find outside big cities in Brazil).

She tells me, "Visitors from Scotland are particularly welcome, with the frequent sound of Eddi Reader playing on the bookshop stereo!"

If you want to know more visit the Urso de Óculos website. If you really want to know more get on a plane, fly south and stand beneath that amber moon. . .

Sadly it’s been years since I've been to Brazil. The first time I went was in 1976 when I flew to Rio de Janeiro from Miami arriving very early on a Sunday morning; I was working in the airline business at the time. I checked-in at the Copacabana Palace, and as I headed for the lift I bumped into a girl who flew for our airline; like me she was on her first trip to Rio. Like her I wanted to see the sights and were not put off by the fact that it was very overcast. An hour or so later we headed out and took the rickety train up to the statue of Cristo Redentor. When we got off the train we were bathed in cloud as we walked the last part up to the viewing platform. Arriving at the top the clouds parted to reveal what is still one of the half dozen best views I've ever seen in my life.

'There's one thing that I'm certain of; return I will to old Brazil.'

Friday, May 1, 2009

James Runcie

James Runcie's talk and reading at Mainstreet Trading in St Boswell last night was wonderful. He is a great raconteur, his story, against himself, involving David Starkey was brilliant. James Runcie's new book, East Fortune, if his readings and his conversation are anything to go by is a must read – especially if you're a middle-aged male. Actually the issues he writes about affect many of us and I cannot wait to read it (currently Mrs.H has bagged it and started reading it in bed last night).

Mainstreet Trading, as I have said before, is a wonderful book shop, but it's also a lovely space for author events. They have one coming up with Judith Miller in July....more news when I get it.