Botswana Bestseller

The huge success of novels featuring a Botswanan private detective has catapulted their Scottish publisher into the major league. “With sales topping five million in English, Precious Ramotswe is fast becoming to Alexander McCall Smith what Harry Potter is to JK Rowling and Inspector Rebus is to Ian Rankin.”

Edinburgh Jazz – Europe’s Best?

“A record-breaking 25,000 tickets were bought for performances by top musicians, firmly cementing the event’s reputation as one of Europe’s leading jazz music festivals. The increase in ticket sales marked a rise of almost 2,000 over those snapped up in 2003. This translated to a record-breaking turnover of a half a million pounds for the event, now Britain’s largest and most prestigious jazz festival.”

Hendra V Hendra – Court Of Public Opinion

In an article in The New York Times last month Jessica Hendra accused her father Tony, author of the best-selling spiritual memoir Father Joe, of molesting her when she was a young girl. “Since July 1, when The Times first published Ms. Hendra’s claims in a carefully reported 2,400-word story by veteran reporter N. R. Kleinfield that ran on the front page of the Arts section, a strange radio silence has set in.” But the book continues to sell.

The Lit Olympics (Why’d We Forget ’em?)

“The world has forgotten that literary ‘happenings’ were once an essential ingredient of all ancient athletic festivals; for those well-rounded Greek crowds, the 90-pound-weakling writers could be as compelling an attraction as the beefcake that paraded stark naked around the stadium. In fact, we should thank the first Olympics for several crucial breakthroughs in the Western literary tradition—including the pioneering act of self-promotion by a celebrity-hungry author.”

Culture Disobedience (Will Anyone Be Swayed?)

“Artists are mobilizing in historic numbers for the Republican National Convention, volunteering for duty in the Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues, and Ideas, the Unconvention, and other specially organized programs that offer opportunities to sing, act, dance, joke, and otherwise comment on the current state of the disunion. Progressive culture vultures may thrill at the gargantuan menu of politicized performances, screenings, exhibits, stand-up marathons, and concerts planned around the four-day coronation of George W. But if Michael Moore’s $100 million-plus blockbuster can’t breach the country’s red-state/blue-state mental divide, what can we reasonably expect from an army of fringe acts sprinkled with mega-star cameos?”

The Trumpet King

Hakan Hardenberger is consdered by many to be the world’s foremost trumpet player. He’s on a mission – to stimulate more composers to write for the instrument. “Hardenberger’s eagerness to encourage composers to celebrate the trumpet was born of frustration at the paucity of things written for it, but then, he says, ‘I started to see it as an advantage. Although I am not a composer, I had to be creative – to look for something new’.”