A couple of weeks ago now, the third issue (my second) of The Book Magazine arrived. I’ve been meaning to write about the magazine but haven’t found the time — it is actually very good!
The magazine is well written, edited and produced. I imagined I would flick through it when I picked it up, yet the articles are readable and stimulating. I found myself wanting to read books that I could not imagine considering if I saw them in a bookshop or on Amazon.
Here are some examples:
Gordon Kerr reviews Michael Palin’s diaries (vol 1). I never read celebrity autobiographies, but this one sounds as if it is actually written by Palin and as if it has some highly amusing content in it (helped I am sure by the fact that Palin isn’t 22 and already on volume 3).
Mark Binns writes about four new biographies of writers: Hardy, Wordsworth and Coleridge, Leonard Woolf and B S Johnson. I certainly won’t read some or all of these books, but Binns’ article is an informative round-up.
Perhaps the star article in this issue for me is Gordon Kerr (again) on "The Joke’s Over", a review of Ralph Steadman’s book about Hunter S. Thompson. Steadman has been a relatively constant yet shadowy figure in Gonzo’s books over many years, but the story of the relationship between the two men is delightfully unsentimental — and Steadman sounds as if he’s fully as dry as the master (dry in the humorous sense rather than any other, of course).
There are other articles which, somewhat to my own surprise, I read to the end — Fiammetta Rocco on what it was like being a judge of the 2004 Man Booker prize; Mark Lee reviewing "A Spot of Bother", Mark Haddon’s second novel; an interview with Lian Hearn (who I now realise is a woman!); round up of lots of children’s books including "Into the Woods"; and a review of "100 must-read crime novels" — which I am definitely going to try to avoid but will probably fail in that regard.
That is by no means all — I highly recommend subscribing to this magazine via this link. Or you can apparently get hold of it at 250 independent booksellers throughout the UK, although I haven’t seen it. I don’t know if they distribute outside the UK, but their email address is here if you want to ask them.