December 2017 : New Titles
A personal selection from a plethora of titles …
To quote Alice O’Keeffe of The Bookeller of 8 September (p26)
Everything changes but December remains the quietest month in the publishing calendar.
Which means, alas, no fiction of interest this month other than a couple of volumes of short stories.
According to this new interpretation by maverick British filmmaker Cox, the key to decoding puzzling 1960s TV series “The Prisoner” is to watch the episodes in the order in which they were made. His commentary does just that, in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its first showing….
No Exit Press, £9.99, 7th December 2017, 9780857301758
The distinguished historian and broadcaster tells the story of the first modern skyscraper-Chicago’s Reliance Building-and how it epitomised the extraordinary artistic and engineering world of the 1890s and its great figures, such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Otto Wagner….
Head of Zeus, £20.00, 1st February 2018, 9781786691187
The “nearly unbelievable” story of the poets turned partisans and smugglers of the Vilna Ghetto, Lithuania, during the Second World War, and how they rescued thousands of rare books and manuscripts-first from the Nazis and then from the Soviets-by hiding them on their person, burying them in bunkers and smuggling them across borders. The author was the expert invited to consult on the hidden items when they were rediscovered….
University of New Hampshire Press, £29.00, 3rd October 2017, 9781512600490
“Saturday 24th July. Bought a pair of shorts-white, very short with two pockets. Super but rather daring!” This 1954 diary of the late novelist, which vividly brings back that era, only came to light after her death, leading some to question whether it should be published at all. Her widower Hunter Davies set out his justification in an article in the Guardian earlier this year: “My main argument is that, unlike other material with which she was unhappy, she never destroyed her diaries, so must have known there was a chance they would be discovered.” Whatever the ethics, Forster’s writing is always a delight.
Chatto & Windus, £10.99, 7th December 2017, 9781784742232
From paintings by Rembrandt and Michelangelo to Faberg eggs and fine furniture, this official history of the Royal Collection accompanies a four-part BBC4 series and a documentary on BBC Two, as well as two major exhibitions at St James’ Palace and The Royal Academy. Affording unprecedented access to the artworks in the royal residences, it explores how royalty used the arts to strengthen their position as rulers by divine right, as well as how royal attitudes to the arts and sciences changed during the Enlightenment. Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales….
BBC Books, £30.00, 7th December 2017, 9781785942617
Award-winning animator and cartoonist Klein teams up with cognitive psychologist Oppenheimer to introduce readers to the complex, and often comedic, world of psychology. The highly engaging result is split into three sections: Making Sense of the World, Making Sense of Ourselves and Making Sense of Others.
WW Norton & Co, £14.99, 6th December 2017, 9780393351958
Billed as the compelling story of Darrell Watt, a hero solider of the Rhodesian SAS, and his battle to save the last big herd of elephants in Zambia from poachers. Zealously protecting 500 animals with 40 soldiers, armed with AK47s, he has handed over more than 600 poachers to police.
Casemate Books, £25.00, 19th November 2017, 9781612004495
Tom Hazard has a secret: he may look like an ordinary 41-year-old man but he was born Estienne Thomas Ambroise Christophe Hazard-in 1581. Tom suffers from a rare condition, anageria, which means he ages very, very slowly. Aided by the mysterious Albatross Society, Tom has spent his 400-odd years on the planet moving countries and changing identities in order to avoid suspicion. How to Stop Time opens in present day London where Tom, craving normality, takes a job as a history teacher in a secondary school. But everywhere he is reminded of the last time he was in London, in 1623, when Rose, the love of his life, died of the plague. What follows is an addictive, time-travelling tale which unfolds at a cracking pace. It concerns love and loss but also has some profound things to say about the importance of living in the moment. It’s Haig’s sixth novel and while his books have always been well reviewed (The Humans was chosen as a World Book Night title in 2014), he reached another level with the non-fiction bestseller Reasons to Stay Alive. This will be Canongate’s lead fiction title for the year and a “huge” publicity campaign is planned, including “unmissable” outdoor advertising and on the London Underground.
Canongate , £8.99, 28th December 2017, 9781782118640
“Witty, insightful and surprising” history of modern Britain, though its census. Hutchinson follows its development from the first census in 1801 through to the latest in 2011, and examines what it tells us about our society from prime ministers to peasants, Irish rebels to English patriots, and the last native speakers of Cornish to prostitutes and “abecedarians” who made a living from teaching the alphabet….
Abacus, £12.99, 7th December 2017, 9780349141220
In 1741, in just 24 days, the German-born, British-naturalized composer George Frideric Handel wrote an oratorio rich in tuneful arias and choruses of robust grandeur. Coolly received in London at first, after Handel’s death Messiah enjoyed an extraordinary surge in popularity: it was performed at festivals across England; other composers rushed to rearrange it; it would be commercially recorded on more than 100 occasions.
Jonathan Keates tells the story of the composition and musical afterlife of Handel’s masterpiece: he considers the first performances and its place in Handel’s output; he looks at the oratorio itself and its relationship with spirituality in the age of the Enlightenment; and he examines why Messiah became such an essential element in the national culture of Britain.
Illustrated with beautiful images, including the original score of the work, Messiah is a richly informative and affectionate celebration of a high-point of Britain’s Georgian golden age.
Head of Zeus, £9.99, 14th December, 9781786695956