Rhyannon Styles' transgender memoir to arrive in July

The New Girl

Writer, musician and performance artist Rhyannon Styles' memoir, The New Girl, will be arriving in July. That's according to publisher Headline, which says the titles' exploration of the author's journey transitioning from male to female will be "redemptive" "very personal" and will also "explode myths". 

We're sure it'll be an incredibly powerful read, and one which readers of Styles' Elle column may particularly be looking out for. Tracing Styles' transition - beginning in 2012 - The New Girl will (we're told) promote understanding of the transgender experience, while highlighting the importance of self-truth. Styles' commissioning editor at Headline, Christina Demosthenous, says the publisher is proud to be working on the title, and rightly so. Demosthenous adds:

Rhyannon bravely – and with brutal honesty – invites us on her journey of transitioning from male to female. Emotional, powerful and utterly upfront, her story is also narrated with her trademark wit and wry sense of humour.

For her part, Styles says "The New Girl is a very modern part of trans life". Her hope is that the memoir will "allow people access to the transgender experience, providing understanding and insight, and lighting up the electrifying process of transformation." We're sure it will. And that come July of this year, The New Girl will present a personal and revealing view of Styles' story; one in which many readers will find value, insight and perhaps a deeper understanding of a subject otherwise left unexplored. 

Conversations With McCartney - 'intimate portrait' arrives in September

Conversations with McCartney, the title inspired by Paul Du Noyer's interviews with music legend Sir Paul McCartney, will be released in September, The Bookseller  has reported. We mentioned yesterday that Johnny Marr's autobiography will be one for the music fans, and...well, this one most certainly doubles the wish-list!

Du Noyer, a respected music journalist, had the chance to interview Sir Paul in 1989 and met often in the years after - speaking on personal topics such as the former Beatle's relationship with Linda McCartney, and about tragically murdered band mate, John Lennon. It is, publisher Hodder and Stoughton suggests, an "intimate portrait"; and we expect that description will be nothing short of on point.

Conversations With McCartney is written "with the blessing" of the musician, and will undoubtedly convey thoughts and conversations providing a fascinating and honest insight into the man and the musician. It's fantastic such a book is being brought to the shelves, and Du Noyer himself is excited in sharing it:

Decades of access to Paul McCartney have been a privilege for me as a writer, and a personal thrill as a fan. I’ve now woven together our many interviews, many published for the first time, because - thanks to Paul's honesty, humour and unique perspective – I think they make for an affectionate and fully-rounded portrait of one of the great musicians of all time.

Frankly we can't wait.

Except we'll have to...until 24th September, when Conversations With McCartney is released in hardback and ebook forms.

Johnny Marr focused on pitch-perfect autobiography

Johnny Marr is fully focused on a high-quality autobiography. Not content to push a ghostwritten title with one eye keen on his musical output, The former The Smiths guitarist revealed to NME that he's looking to deliver a book well worthy of fans interest. Interest which (hopefully) can be met in 'autumn 2016', the period he and his publisher, Century, are working towards.

Marr wasn't drawn on details, but he has made a few interesting assertions. Talking of his full dedication to writing, Marr says, "I always knew it was going to be a matter of downing tools to get the book done."

That should mean no musical work in the interim as Marr concentrates on a style enabling him to "write the way I talk". On the content Marr is tight-lipped, but has revealed:

The important thing is that the people who like what I do still like me the same once they know everything. I take writing seriously, but I also want it to be entertaining, because I don’t want to be too self-important or pompous.

If that sounds general, Marr said the title "won't be straightforward". It sounds intriguing to say the least. One for music-lovers certainly, and perhaps one for those enjoying a candid and engaging book which is true to the traditions of fine autobiography.

One thing's for certain though. Marr has rejected out of hand a title featuring a pun on his name.

We really can't blame him. He says he's bored of such things, and it really wouldn't suit him in any case.

The Treeclimber's Guide to London excites

News that Jack Cooke's The Treeclimber's Guide to London has been snapped up by HarperNonFiction, can be met with delight and wide-eyes. Particularly by readers fond of closer interactions with nature than book-bound day-dreams provide. Tree-clambering is definitely both a primal and a terrifically exciting act (best done sensibly, of course!).

Cooke's title, to be released in Spring next year, has reportedly cost HarperNonFiction a five-figure sum. What the it receives for the outlay is a book Harper's publishing director Jack Fogg calls "one of a kind". The Bookseller reports that Harper nicked the book in a rather active five-publisher auction, so that bodes well. And Fogg particularly seems thrilled with Harper's catch:

Jack’s book is truly one of a kind. He writes beautifully on nature and its convergence with city life, and brings an elegant, lyrical and unassuming tone to his writing which fits perfectly with the subject.

What's the book actually about? It's Cooke's "charming account of the 80 or so trees" he has climbed in/around London in the period of a year. If that sounds somewhat left-field, it's clearly delivered in a style which makes publisher's knees go a-quiver - and it's sparking a little fire of joyful abandon within us.

Cooke's accounts will also be partnered by monochrome line drawings from his wife, Jennifer. Which, honestly, sounds the perfect accompaniment to her husband's words.

Of course we'll wait to see what the finished article does for the senses. But we're half-expecting our younger book-devouring selves to be quite satiated. As much as our youthful desire for acutely realised freedom and adventure.

Henry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' wins Ackerley prize

Dr. Henry Marsh's Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery has won the 2015 PEN Ackerley prize. It's a bit of news well-received here at W&M HQ. We're big fans of the book and its frank, insightful and beautifully written stories are excellently told - especially by a man who's hands are better used to intricate surgeries, not stanzas.

Intricacy certainly isn't missing from Do No Harm, and the award is proof enough of that! Making the award announcement, judge chair Peter Parker noted:

Several widely praise and heavily garlanded autobiographies were published in 2014, but the PEN Ackerley judges felt that few of these delivered on their promise. Henry Marsh's Do No Harm was, outstandingly, one that did…beautifully written, recklessly honest and morally complex.

Marsh writes superbly about the intricacies of the human body, about the sometimes conflicting impulses of professional ambition and human need, and about the difficulty of talking honestly to patients and their families in times of medical crisis. These ‘Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery’ present a compelling argument about the moral dimension of surgical intervention and build to a touching and rueful self-portrait.

On receiving the award, Dr Marsh told it was "very pleasing indeed to get this particular prize". Congratulations Doctor, very well-deserved indeed!

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The Ackerley prize celebrates autobiography and memoir, and is named for JR Ackerley, the former literary editor of The Listener magazine. It is awarded by the (awesome) English PEN.

Pewdiepie book - one for the fans?

If you've not heard of Pewdiepie, then it's highly unlikely you'll have heard of Felix Kjellberg, the man behind the username. Still, Pewdiepie/Felix - the gamer with over 37 million YouTube followers (oof!) - is joining Zoe Sugg (Zoella), and Alfie Deyes (Pointlessblog) in the jump from YouTube to book release.

The Pewdiepie book, This Book Loves You, is to be published by Penguin and released 20th October.

A sort of anti self-help book delivered with the author's trademark humour, we're not sure it'll attract a whole host of new fans for the Swede. Still, if it carries the 'love' to more people then good stuff!

What sort of humour should you expect? Here's an extract from the book's description:

Pewdiepie was sent to planet Earth to dispense wisdom, teach us common sense and instruct us in the ancient art of Inspirology.

Pewdiepie just wants to make you happy.

Pewdiepie loves you even more than this book does - isn't that enough for you?

True to form, the announcement was confirmed by a rather left-field video on the Pewdiepie channel.

And...um, well it's a fair portrayal of Kjellberg's style to be fair.

Book claims Zodiac Killer was author's father

A new book to be published by HarperCollins could hold the identity of the infamous Zodiac Killer within its pages. The Most Dangerous Animal of Allwritten byGary L. Stewart reveals the author's belief that the notorious Zodiac Killer was in fact his biological father. The book is released next week in the UK, but is already available in the US where it is - it's fair to say - grabbing quite a lot of attention.

The identity of the Zodiac killer, active in the 60s and 70s in California, has never been established. That is despite an extraordinary amount of time spent on the case and  killers own letters to police and media alleging to contain clues as to his own identity.

Stewart though believes the killer was his father, and in an interview with People told that he thinks the killers victims resembled his mother, Judith Gilford, a 14 year old who Best ran away from home with in 1963. Best was later arrested and imprisoned for offences inclusing raping a minor.

Speaking about the book HarperCollins spokesperson, Laura Lees, has offered:

"Years of research led Gary to the conclusion, after he launched a search for his biological father shortly after his birth mother made contact with him. He also says he unearthed forensic evidence among the clues he found."

The author's evidence is included in the book, and the cover displays an image of Best some may feel compelled to compare to a police artist's sketch of the Zodiac killer.

Earl Van Best though, if he was the killer, died in 1984. And the San Francisco Police Department have refused to compare the author's DNA with that held on file.

Stewart says the evidence was "the last thing" he wanted to find when looking into his past, having been contacted by Gilford in 2002.  But he does hope the book may "bring some closure to the families of my father's victims".

Title tells of UK's first spin doctor

The story of the UK's first 'spin doctor' should make for fascinating reading for anyone with an eye for communications...or  maybe those with a strong love/hate for PR. Former journalist-turned-author Richard Evans has written a book about the UK's first spin doctor, Sir Basil Clarke, the man to be credited for enabling the Alastair Campbells of the country.

That might be unfair, for the former sportsman Sir Basil intended to be a pioneer in founding the country's first PR firm. He succeeded in 1927, and the UK government made use of his "propaganda by news" - an approach which meant providing facts specific to a preferred story.

Indeed author Richard Evans explains to Hold The Front Page exactly how Sir Basil was key in bringing PR to our shores.

“Although PR was well-established in America, no-one had thought it necessary in Britain. The war changed all that because everyone could see the power of propaganda.

"When Sir Basil started in the role, it was a pioneering move and he later moved to Dublin Castle as the occupation of Ireland was deeply unpopular.”

Although he was knighted for services in Ireland, Sir Basil did come in for heavy criticism. As the author of a British response to 1920's Bloody Sunday, he was accused of conjuring fiction by Sinn Féin.

Evans though believes, "All the evidence points to it being a mistake". Adding, "As founding fathers go I think he did believe in the ethics of public relations and had a reputation for standing up to people.” Apparently now and again he would do that with his fists; not a man to back down.

The whole of Sir Basil Clarke's story may no longer be well known. Yet From the Frontline: The Extraordinary Exploits of Sir Basil Clarke at Dunham Massey seeks to lift the lid on the UK's chief crafter of comment.

Letters of Note book auction live

Letters of Note is welcoming bids for copies of Letters of Note and To The Letter, signed by performers from the most recent Letters Live event. Letters of Note has lifted itself from the ether of the Internet in recent times, turning the site founded by Shaun Usher into a self-titled book as well as a fledgling series of live events.

The most recent of these fine events took place on April 23rd, to coincide with the Reading Agency's annual World Book Night. It saw a host of readers including Stephen Fry, Lisa Dwan, Russell Brand, Louise Brealey and Andrew Motion all reading selected...well, letters of note.

Now, in a positive push to raise some funds for the Reading Agency, two books signed by the night's performers have been put up for auction. The details of the listings, still very much live, read:

One copy each of Letters Of Note and To The Letter were signed by: Stephen Fry • Caitlin Moran • Russell Brand • James Rhodes • Lisa Dwan • Matt Berry • Louise Brealey • Andrew Motion • Morgana Robinson • Andrew O’Hagan • David Nicholls at a World Book Night event in association with The Reading Agency, at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on Wednesday 23 April. 

There's not a lot else we can add to that. The Letters of Note book auction will be live for the next four and a bit days, with the current top bid standing at £260.

So, if you fancy snagging the two titles - or just ensuring that the Reading Agency gets a fair sum of money (and you some excellent books in return) - head here.

Happy bidding!

Capital In the Twenty-First Century tops Amazon charts

Professor Thomas Piketty'sCapital In the Twenty-First Century has stormed Amazon, and is currently sitting at the top of the book giant's bestseller list.

We thought we caught a sense of something unique when sniffing the ether for the French academic's new work; now it seems that our initial thoughts were fairly sensible.

The 696 page title, released last month, deals with the central issue of economic inequality. And it is, Ryan Cooper of The Week believes:

...a brilliant, surprisingly readable work that synthesizes a staggering amount of careful research to make the case that income inequality is no accident.

Obviously some interest in economics will be needed to consider purchasing the title, but Capital has so far managed to impress critical reviewers and many readers with its unique and striking approach to capitalism and the inequality around us.

Admittedly, we're not particularly economically minded - indeed we're looking forward to reading the book ourselves! -  so here's Prof. Piketty explaining the title far better than we ever could.