Giles and Victoria Coren have done a magnificent job in selecting and presenting these 420 pages of their late father’s writings 1960-2007, very many of which are masterpieces. I hope they will not mind me invoking paragraph 8.7, sub-section a(ii), of the MHRA Style Guide: A Handbook for Authors, Editors, and Writers of Theses (‘quotation of brief passages of copyright material for academic purposes’), in order to reproduce these two paragraphs by Alan Coren from page 170:
One of the major headaches with which booksellers are invariably racked is the astonishing intractability of authors. The division between these two twin curators of our literary heritage is over which of the two syllables of the word ‘bookshop’ is the more important. How rarely can an author be found who considers, before even setting pen to paper, the marketability of his product! How often has an author rung a bookshop to say: ‘I’m thinking of doing a book, what’s the best weight to go for?’ or enquired as to the exact dimensions of the bookseller’s most popular paper bag, so that something may be written to fit it?
Hopefully, GOLFING FOR CATS will change all that. A new era of inter-literary cooperation, it is not too much to say, may well be dawning. For not only has this book been put together at the optimum size and weight, it also concerns the three most perennially popular subjects to be found on the bedside tables of the reading public, viz. golf, cats, and the Third Reich.
Did I say ‘academic’? There is nothing academic about this statement, it’s the trewf! Like other great institutions I could mention, publishing really works top down, not bottom up, and it would have been better for the author of George Calderon: Edwardian Genius if he had asked publishers what kind of book they wanted him to write, or remotely whether, before even setting pen to paper…
I wonder if the surname Coren comes from Russian koren’, a root?