Preview 2008 - Books

The paper chase

Brian Donaldson ponders the literary heavy weights, paper-thin celebutantes and those who have actually done something all releasing books this year

So, surely this year will mark a big new beginning when proper literature, you know, actual novels, replaces the ridiculously self-serving and endless charade that is the celebrity autobiography? Nah, not really. 2008 will witness little in the way of a slowing down in the feeding frenzy of memoirs, biogs and general blabbering about modern ‘icons’ that goes on and on with little sign of abating.

Which is not to say that there won’t be some worthwhile people-publications coming out over the next 12 months. For every inflated glamourpuss (Abi Titmuss with her Secret Diaries in June), there’ll be a political heavyweight disclosing as much as their confidentiality agreements/nagging consciences will allow about their time in office (John Prescott will lead the way with Prezza in May). And for each all too early exposé of a young one’s life (Beth Ditto with Coal Into Diamonds in October and Andy Murray who will be Hitting Back in June) there’ll be some old troopers dissecting the very real woes experienced in their long showbiz lives (such as Tony Curtis with American Prince in June and Les Dennis who pertinently asks Must the Show Go On? in April)

Add to that the published lives of Dawn French, David Soul, Dennis Hopper and others whose forenames don’t begin with ‘D’ (such as Jamie Oliver, Kathleen Turner, Craig Charles, William Shatner and Julie Andrews) and the year won’t be short of Sunday supplement memoir extracts. However two music biogs are intriguing us greatly. Mark E Smith gives us Renegade: The Gospel According to Mark E Smith (Apr) while the former Mr Merton, Peter Hook, analyses a British institution in The Hacienda (Jun).

Still, thankfully the novel has not quite been declared unfit for purpose just yet and some of Scotland’s top authors are back in the saddle this year. The ever-influential James Kelman brings us Kieron Smith, Boy (Apr) while two of the Albion Rovers Children return: Irvine Welsh indulges us with some Crime (Jul) while James Meek will aim to enhance his reputation further with We Are Now Beginning Our Descent (7 Feb).

The young pretenders to that lot’s thrones for this year include Ewan Morrison swinging along with Distance (Jun) while literary crime lord Allan Guthrie delivers a Savage Night (Mar). The ever popular Anne Donovan is Being Emily (May) while Arbroath polymath Doug Johnstone frees up The Ossians (Mar).

Best book of the year will probably be Born Yesterday (7 Feb) in which Gordon Burn weaves a fictionalised narrative around the big stories of last summer (Blair going and Brown coming, the McCanns and the floods).

Best title of the year must go to Ben Lewis for his look at East European humour, Hammer and Tickle (May) while shocker of 2008 may well be Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea (May) from US actress and comic Chelsea Handler. You can almost taste the bile rising, can’t you?

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