Ralph Rochester’s new book, a bittersweet tale in illustrated verse, is a real family affair. It’s been produced as a limited edition (300), hand-bound with Hessian covers by the author’s daughter Kate, and I heard about it from Sophie, his other daughter, and the brains behind The Literary Platform. What’s more, Rochester’s wife Barbara had no small hand in the book’s wonderfully wry colour illustrations.
These illustrations are crucial companions to the poetry. Together verse and picture tell the story of William, a rustic romantic, overjoyed at the prospect of another year living the good life, and his much put-upon wife Flora, whose only means of complaint throughout most of the book is her world weary facial expression.
Here’s a sample William line, in reference to their homegrown spuds:
"When shall Tesco, aye, or Waitrose ever know such grand potatoes.”
You might see the end coming, but it’s no less satisfying for it. A fun book for any romantic with a sense of humour.
Hanbury Press £28.00 34pp plus endpapers Release date: 21 March 2012
Brain Pickings have been compiling writing tips from some literary heavyweights. Steinbeck’s are refreshingly practical. Here’s his third tip:
Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
Upon my recent weekly trip to the bookshop, my eyes were seduced by these lovely D.H. Lawrence covers, reissued last year by Vintage Books, featuring the work of Dutch photographer Carla van de Puttelaar.
Widely exhibited across Europe, her work focuses on the human form, almost always female. And almost always set against a backdrop of deep endless black. Her colour palette is muted, her lighting soft. Leaving the flesh of her sitters with an ethereal, spectral quality.
I think these make for a thoroughly exquisite series and a must for any cover design junkie.
Emma Taylor is a commercial photography consultant and girl-about-town
Unless you’re a lily-livered landlubber or have been living under a barnacle-festooned rock the past score and eight month, you’ll no doubt be aware that The Pirates!: in an Adventure with Scientists comes into port at cinemas from Dover to Dartmouth in a couple of weeks time.
What you may be less aware of is that Aardman’s latest big-screen outing is based on a great little curiosity of a book by one ‘Gideon Defoe’. The Guardian has a nice piece on him from 2005 that details the book’s gestation, creation and publication.
Jonny Duddle, one of the film’s character designers, has written a piece for his agents, Arena Illustration, detailing how he put together the concept of The Pirate with Prosthetics. Interestingly this process seems to have been guided more by the film’s director, Peter ‘Morph’ Lord, than the source material.
Here’s Duddle talking about this in a PR video for Aardman.
For those wanting a fix of high seas skullduggery more suited to cabin lads and lasses, you may also be interested to know that Duddle is himself the author and illustrator of a couple of books, the popular book The Pirate Cruncher, the illustrations in which makes fabulous use of the physicality of the book, and The Pirates Next Door, which came out towards the end of last year.
For anyone of the bookish persuasion and based in the southeast of England, Crawley’s WordFest organisers have just unveiled the programme for their second year of events, which kick off on the 24th of this month.
A large proportion of the town’s residents will be reading Julia Crouch’s Cuckoo, which has been selected as this year’s One Town, One Book choice. (Last year Crawley residents mass-read Alex Preston’s This Bleeding City.)
I don’t agree with his terming these books ‘literary fantasy and science fiction’ (rather than forcibly adopting books into a genre where they don’t fit, it makes more sense to me to ignore the genre distinction in the first place), but Damien G Walter nonetheless has a roundup of some very good books over on his blog.
Should have probably mentioned earlier that it’s World Book Day today, of course. Assuming you knew. I got sent a Fay Weldon novel with a cover that means no man anywhere would ever buy a copy for himself. Thanks, Aliya.
The gals over at Stylist Magazine have a couple of book competitions running at the moment. One is to design a cover for one of a selection of classic titles, and the other more interesting less-free-pitchy but equally rights-gobbling sees them partnering with Faber to find a new crime novel.
They want a 6,000 word sample, a 300 word outline (that doesn’t reveal the story’s ending) and a 250 word biography of the main character. The only steer is that the novel should feature a female protagonist. The prize is a £5,000 advance for worldwide rights.
It’s not clear whether you have to be a pretty twenty-something woman writing your book on a laptop in a plush library to enter, but no doubt that would help.