Kevin Powers - The Yellow Birds - Hodder & Stoughton
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The Yellow Birds

By Kevin Powers

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An unforgettable depiction of the psychological impact of war, by a young Iraq veteran and poet, THE YELLOW BIRDS is already being hailed as a modern classic.

WINNER OF THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD 2012

WINNER OF THE HEMINGWAY/PEN AWARD 2012

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

AN AMAZON EDITOR'S PICK: BEST BOOKS OF 2012

A NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN BOOK OF THE YEAR

A TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR

AN INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE YEAR

A TLS BOOK OF THE YEAR

AN EVENING STANDARD BOOK OF THE YEAR

A SUNDAY EXPRESS BOOK OF THE YEAR

A GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE YEAR

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR

A SCOTSMAN BOOK OF THE YEAR

A SUNDAY HERALD BOOK OF THE YEAR

AN IRISH TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR

An unforgettable depiction of the psychological impact of war, by a young Iraq veteran and poet, THE YELLOW BIRDS is already being hailed as a modern classic.

Everywhere John looks, he sees Murph.

He flinches when cars drive past. His fingers clasp around the rifle he hasn't held for months. Wide-eyed strangers praise him as a hero, but he can feel himself disappearing.

Back home after a year in Iraq, memories swarm around him: bodies burning in the crisp morning air. Sunlight falling through branches; bullets kicking up dust; ripples on a pond wavering like plucked strings. The promise he made, to a young man's mother, that her son would be brought home safely.

With THE YELLOW BIRDS, poet and veteran Kevin Powers has composed an unforgettable account of friendship and loss. It vividly captures the desperation and brutality of war, and its terrible after-effects. But it is also a story of love, of great courage, and of extraordinary human survival.

Written with profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on families at home, THE YELLOW BIRDS is one of the most haunting, true and powerful novels of our time.

'THE YELLOW BIRDS is the All Quiet on the Western Front of America's Arab Wars.'

(Tom Wolfe, author of The Bonfire of the Vanities )

'Kevin Powers has conjured a poetic and devastating account of war's effect on the individual.'

(Damian Lewis, star of Homeland and Band of Brothers )

'Inexplicably beautiful'.

(Ann Patchett, Orange Prize-winning author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder)

Biographical Notes

Kevin Powers was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener Fellow in Poetry. He served in the US Army in 2004 and 2005 in Iraq, where he was deployed as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar. His debut novel, THE YELLOW BIRDS won the Guardian First Book Award 2012 and was a New York Times bestseller in its first week of publication.

www.kevincpowers.com

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9781444756128
  • Publication date: 06 Sep 2012
  • Page count: 240
'As war novels go, THE YELLOW BIRDS is a triumph, mining the conflict in Iraq to investigate universal questions of the extent to which we are in control of our lives; the degree to which we are capable of exercising free will. As debuts go it's better yet, with an opening as arresting and beautiful as any I have recently encountered' — G2, Guardian
Remarkable for its intensity of both feeling and expression. In this book about death, every line is a defiant assertion of the power of beauty to revivify, whether beauty shows itself in nature or (later) in art. Graves, Owen and Sassoon would have recognised this war and the strange poetry it has bred. — HILARY MANTEL, GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR
An extraordinary novel . . . remarkable . . . stands with Tim O'Brien's enduring Vietnam book, The Things They Carried, as a classic of contemporary war fiction . . . brilliantly observed and deeply affecting. — MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NEW YORK TIMES
A stunning achievement, visceral [and] poignant. — SUNDAY TIMES
A masterpiece ... a classic. — THE TIMESBOOKS OF THE YEAR
THE YELLOW BIRDS is a wonderful, powerful novel that moves and terrifies. — INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
Tautly written and unforgiving in its depiction of the human cost of war. — THE TIMES
I found in THE YELLOW BIRDS by Kevin Powers a vivid, poetic account of modern warfare. Powers joined the US Marines at 17, going on to serve as a machine gunner in Iraq, and each line bleeds hard-fought truths. — RICHARD GODWIN, EVENING STANDARD BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Powers has written a compassionate, poetic evocation of war and its legacy which has already been hailed as a classic of its genre. — SUNDAY EXPRESS, BOOKS OF THE YEAR
One of the best war novels for years. — JOHN BURNSIDE, SCOTSMAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR
'Harrowing, inexplicably beautiful, and utterly, urgently necessary.' — ANN PATCHETT, Orange Prizewinning author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder
'Kevin Powers has conjured a poetic and devastating account of war's effect on the individual.' — DAMIAN LEWIS, star of Homeland and Band of Brothers
Extraordinarily well-written . . . brilliant . . . he's just a really, really beautiful writer . . . everyone will be reading it. — ALEX HEMINSLEY, BBC RADIO 2 ARTS SHOW
Reaffirms the power of fiction to tell the truth about the unspeakable ... a superb literary achievement. I urge everyone to read it. — CHRIS CLEAVE, author of The Other Hand and Gold
Written with an intensity which is deeply compelling. — COLM T?IB?N, author of Brooklyn and The Master
'This is a novel I've been waiting for. THE YELLOW BIRDS is born from experience and rendered with compassion and intelligence. All of us owe Kevin Powers our heartfelt gratitude.' — ALICE SEBOLD, author of The Lovely Bones
. . . One of those books that knocks your perceptions into new alignment permanently. — BARBARA KINGSOLVER
'THE YELLOW BIRDS is the All Quiet on the Western Front of America's Arab Wars.' — TOM WOLFE, author of The Bonfire of the Vanities
[Powers] has forged a harrowing, enormously powerful first novel . . . Powers' writing is also attentive to nature and landscape, and he manages to entertain contradictory notions of beauty and horror. Wasn't that Fitzgerald's definition of genius? — FINANCIAL TIMES
Kevin Powers' lyrical account of war's deep impact on the individual is an important addition to the tradition of American war fiction and perhaps the first great novel to emerge from the long, intractable conflicts in the Middle East. — JOHANNA THOMAS-CORR, LITERARY REVIEW
A stunning read . . . beautiful [and] devastating. — SIMON MAYO, BBC RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB
Thus far the definitive novel of our long wars in the Middle East; this book is certain to be read and taught for generations to come. — PHILIPP MEYER author of American Rust
And then I heard this . . . an extraordinary novel - honest painful, poetic. Powers's exquisitely drawn portrait of three young soldiers struggling in their own way to make sense of their situation gives you the real human story. — GUARDIAN
Kevin Powers' poetic, grievously sad debut novel captures one young man's experience of the war in Iraq . . . Powers is clear-eyed and dolorous, observing the damage done, but alive to the beauty of the landscape, and the details that cement friendship in a world dominated by violence and fear. — MARIE CLAIRE
Page after page yields unforgettable images . . . undeniably, this is an important novel by a formidable talent. — DAILY MAIL
A novel about the war in Iraq might not usually top your reading list, but make an exception for this one . . . it's an intense, brutal and yet lyrical tale . . . Novelists from Ann Pratchett to Colm Toibin have praised its harrowing beauty. It's an elegant literary treat. — EASY LIVING
'The most recent war is much like the most ancient, torn bodies, cracked psyches, the emotional roundelay of pride, pain, confusion and sorrow. In THE YELLOW BIRDS, Kevin Powers has delivered an exceptional novel from the war in Iraq, written in clean, evocative prose, lyric and graphic, in assured rhythms, a story for today and tomorrow and the next.' — DANIEL WOODRELL, author of WINTER'S BONE
We haven't just been waiting for a great novel to come out of the Iraq War, our 21st century Vietnam; we have also been waiting for something more important, a work of art that illuminates our flawed and complex and striving humanity behind all such wars. At last we have both in Kevin Powers' THE YELLOW BIRDS. — ROBERT OLEN BUTLER, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
In the great tradition of Hemingway and Tim O'Brien, Kevin Powers's exquisitely written THE YELLOW BIRDS draws us in to the combat zones of Iraq: the watch, the wait ("Stay alive, Stay alert"), the bungle, the slaughter and the irreparable aftermath. — EDNA O'BRIEN, GUARDIAN
'THE YELLOW BIRDS is a superb novel. Call it a war novel or a first novel or whatever you'd like. Powers has created a powerful work of art that captures the complexity and life altering realities of combat service. This book will endure. Read it and then put it way up on that high rare shelf alongside Ernest Hemingway and Tim O'Brien.' — ANTHONY SWOFFORD, author of Jarhead
Short, taut and eminently readable. With a John Updike-like hypersensitivity in rendering the mundane extraordinary . . . an extremely impressive debut - Kevin Powers is a name to watch. — TIME OUT Book of the Week
THE YELLOW BIRDS skulks along, detached and undemanding, until all of a sudden you turn a page and find yourself weeping. — GQ, Debut Novel of the Month
Elegiac, sober, and haunting. — TIME magazine
It is a novel about the horrors of war made beautiful by the author's poetic language which is like handsome ironmongery, delicately strong but not overwrought . . . At one stage in the book, there's a bravura passage of stream of consciousness that may well be among the most effective lines ever written about a soldier trying to come to terms with what he has seen and done. For that alone Powers deserves a medal. — THE SCOTSMAN
Intense, painful, excellent . . . Bartle tries to piece it all together, and his torment, which must be akin to the author's, feels like a gift. — SPECTATOR
The author's status as a veteran of the war, and therefore a curio in the American literary world, provides an unimpeachable veracity to the novel . . . It is quite clear that he is major talent. — INDEPENDENT
[An] unforgettable debut novel . . . [Powers has] written fiction that seems more real than the "real" thing. — NEWSWEEK
'Powers' poetic gifts render the experience of Americans in Iraq with great emotional intensity. War has been a subject of literature ever since The Iliad. The best books transcend their time and circumstances to say something enduring and truthful about war itself. THE YELLOW BIRDS belongs in that category.' — PHILIP CAPUTO, author of A Rumor of War
Terrific . . . vivid [and] gripping. A very much needed book. — MARGARET FORSTER, author of Diary of an Ordinary Woman
What happens to soldiers at war? THE YELLOW BIRDS delivers answers that should rightfully unnerve us, if we're still willing - ten long years into Iraq and Afghanistan - to contemplate 'our little pest of a war.' The human cost is surely beyond any comprehensible measure, but in this haunting, unflinching crucible of a novel, Kevin Powers gives us the essence, with all comfortable, corrupting illusion and rhetoric burned away. — BEN FOUNTAIN, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Beautifully written . . . This is a harrowing and pitiful story of the sad waste of war. — THE LADY
'This book epitomises the power of the written word; the language is at once poetic and brutal, vivid and sparse. A stunning, timely and engrossing novel.' — BOOKSELLER
What impresses most here are the mournful and melodious refrains which manage to cultivate beauty and pathos from the smothering chaos and dust. — WE LOVE THIS BOOK
A book that will make you look good on the bus . . . a powerful tale. — HEAT
From an opening that suggests The Waste Land to a closing that echoes The Great Gatsby, Kevin Powers has crafted one of the most beguiling and beautiful war novels of recent times . . . its soul spills out over every poetic page. — RTE GUIDE
That it horrifies with beauty and numbs by way of sensuality is Powers' big achievement — SUNDAY INDEPENDENT (DUBLIN)
If you're looking for one of the first great novels of the Iraq war, this may be it. — CNN.com
It's a sad and deftly written story - and one that can stand tall with the great war novels that preceded it. — EMERALD STREET
'By turns shocking, philosophical, frightening and elegiac, it was deservedly nominated for a National Book Award.' — INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY Books of the Year
Extraordinary . . . beautifully accomplished. The mark of an artist of the first order . . . a must-read book. — JOHN BURNSIDE, GUARDIAN
Next to The Forever War by Dexter Filkins, it is the best thing I've read about the war in Iraq, and by far the best novel. Powers is a poet first, so the book is spare, incredibly precise, unimproveable — DAVE EGGERS OBSERVER Books of the Year
The debut novel by Kevin Powers

Reviews for THE YELLOW BIRDS

Read a selection of reviews for the stunning debut novel by Kevin Powers.

Kevin Powers

Kevin Powers was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener Fellow in Poetry. He served in the US Army in 2004 and 2005 in Iraq, where he was deployed as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar. His debut novel, THE YELLOW BIRDS won the Guardian First Book Award 2012 and was a New York Times bestseller in its first week of publication.www.kevincpowers.com

Sceptre

Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting

Kevin Powers

In this remarkable debut poetry collection, National Book Award finalist and Iraq war veteran Kevin Powers creates a startling, affecting portrait of a life shaped by war. LETTER COMPOSED DURING A LULL IN THE FIGHTING captures the many moments that comprise a soldier's life: driving down the Texas highway; waiting for the unknown in the dry Iraq heat; writing a love letter; listening to a mother recount her dreams. Written with honesty and insight, these poems strive to make sense of war and its echoes through human experience.Just as THE YELLOW BIRDS was hailed as the 'first literary masterpiece produced by the Iraq war,' this collection will prove to be a powerful, enduring classic. (Los Angeles Times)

Chapter One

COME SUNDAY, by Isla Morley

Read the first chapter of Isla Morley's COME SUNDAY.

Chapter One

THE YELLOW BIRDS by Kevin Powers

Read the first chapter of Kevin Powers' THE YELLOW BIRDS - described by the Guardian as 'a must-read book'.

Extract

GOLD by Chris Cleave

Read an excerpt of Chris Cleave's GOLD.

A short story by the author of The Saint series, Leslie Charteris

The Uncritical Publisher

Even the strongest men have their weak moments. Peter Quentin once wrote a book. Many young men do, but usually with more disastrous results. Moreover he did it without saying a word to anyone, which is perhaps even more uncommon; and even the Saint did not hear about it until after the crime had been committed. ‘Next time you’re thinking of being rude to me,’ said Peter Quentin, on that night of revelation, ‘please remember that you’re talking to a budding novelist whose work has been compared to Dumas, Tolstoy, Conan Doyle and others.’ Simon Templar choked over his highball. ‘Only pansies bud,’ he said severely. ‘Novelists fester. Of course, it’s possible to be both.’ ‘I mean it,’ insisted Peter seriously. ‘I was keeping it quiet until I heard the verdict, and I had a letter from the publishers today.’ There was no mistaking his earnestness; and the Saint regarded him with affectionate gloom. His vision of the future filled him with overwhelming pessimism. He had seen the fate of other young men – healthy, upright young men who had had a book published. He had seen them tread the downhill path of pink shirts, velvet coats, long hair, quill pens, cocktail parties and beards, until finally they sank into the awful limbos of Bloomsbury and were no longer visible to the naked eye. The prospect of such a doom for anyone like Peter Quentin, who had been with him in so many bigger and better crimes, cast a shadow of great melancholy across his spirits. ‘Didn’t Kathleen try to stop you?’ he asked. ‘Of course not,’ said Peter proudly. ‘She helped me. I owe—’ ‘—it all to her,’ said the Saint cynically. ‘All right. I know the line. But if you ever come out with “My Work” within my hearing, I shall throw you under a bus... You’d better let me see this letter. And order me some more Old Curio while I’m reading it – I need strength.’ He took the document with his fingertips, as if it were unclean, and opened it out on the bar. But after his first glance at the letter-head his twinkling blue eyes steadied abruptly, and he read the epistle through with more than ordinary interest. Dear Sir, We have now gone into your novel THE GAY ADVENTURER, and our readers report that it is very entertaining and ably written, with the verve of Dumas, the dramatic power of Tolstoy, and ingenuity of Conan Doyle. We shall therefore be delighted to set up same in best small pica type to form a volume of about 320 p.p., machine on good antique paper, bind in red cloth with title in gold lettering, and put up in specially designed artistic wrapper, at cost to yourself of only £600 (Six Hundred Pounds) and to publish same at our own expense in the United Kingdom at a net price of 15/ (Fifteen Shillings); and believe it will form a most acceptable and popular volume which should command a wide sale. We will further agree to send you on date of publication twelve presentation copies and to send copies for review to all principal magazines and newspapers; and further to pay you a royalty of 25% (twenty-five per cent) on all copies sold of this Work. The work can be put in hand immediately on receipt of your acceptance of these terms. Trusting to hear from you at your earliest convenience, We beg to remain, dear Sir, Faithfully yours, for HERBERT G. PARSTONE & Co. Herbert G. Parstone, Managing Director Simon folded the letter and handed it back with a sigh of relief. ‘Okay, Peter,’ he said cheerfully. ‘I bought that one. What’s the swindle, and can I come in on it?’ ‘I don’t know of any swindle,’ said Peter puzzledly. ‘What do you mean?’ The Saint frowned. ‘D’you mean to tell me you sent your book to Parstone in all seriousness?’ ‘Of course I did. I saw an advertisement of his in some literary paper, and I don’t know much about publishers—’ ‘You’ve never heard of him before?’ ‘No.’ Simon picked up his glass and strengthened himself with a deep draught. ‘Herbert G. Parstone,’ he said, ‘is England’s premier exponent of the publishing racket. Since you don’t seem to know it, Peter, let me tell you that no reputable publisher in this or any other country publishes books at the author’s expense, except an occasional highly technical work which goes out for posterity rather than profit. I gather that your book is by no means technical. Therefore you don’t pay the publisher: he pays you – and if he’s any use he stands you expensive lunches as well.’ ‘But Parstone offers to pay—’ ‘A twenty-five per cent royalty. I know. Well, if you were something like a bestseller you might get that; but on a first novel no publisher would give you more than ten, and then he’d probably lose money. After six months Parstone would probably send you a statement showing a sale of two hundred copies, you’d get a cheque from him for thirty-seven pounds ten, and that’s the last trace you’d see of your six hundred quid. He’s simply trading on the fact that one out of every three people you meet thinks he could write a book if he tried, one out of every three of ’em try it, and one out of every three of those tries to get it published. ‘The very fact that a manuscript is sent to him tells him that the author is a potential sucker, because anyone who goes into the writing business seriously takes the trouble to find out a bit about publishers before he starts slinging his stuff around. The rest of his game is just playing on the vanity of mugs. And the mugs – mugs like yourself, Peter – old gents with political theories, hideous women with ghastly poems, schoolgirls with nauseating love stories – rush up to pour their money into his lap for the joy of seeing their repulsive tripe in print. I’ve known about Herbert for many years, old lad, but I never thought you’d be the sap to fall for him.’ ‘I don’t believe you,’ said Peter glumly. An elderly mouse-like man who was drinking at the bar beside him coughed apologetically and edged bashfully nearer. ‘Excuse me, sir,’ he said diffidently, ‘but your friend’s telling the truth.’ ‘How do you know?’ asked Peter suspiciously. ‘I can usually guess when he’s telling the truth – he makes a face as if it hurt him.’ ‘He isn’t pulling your leg this time, sir,’ said the man. ‘I happen to be a proof-reader at Parstone’s.’ The surprising thing about coincidences is that they so often happen. The mouse-like man was one of those amazing accidents on which the fate of nations may hinge, but there was no logical reason why he should not have been drinking at that bar as probably as at any other hostel in the district. And yet there is no doubt that if Mr Herbert Parstone could have foreseen the accident he would have bought that particular public house for the simple pleasure of closing it down lest any such coincidence should happen; but unhappily for him Mr Herbert Parstone was not a clairvoyant. This proof-reader – the term, by the way, refers to the occupation and not necessarily to the alcoholic content of the man –had been with Parstone for twelve years, and he was ready for a change. ‘I was with Parstone when he was just a small jobbing printer,’ he said, ‘before he took up this publishing game. That’s all he is now, really – a printer. But he’s going to have to get along without me. In the last three years I’ve taken one cut after another, till I don’t earn enough money to feed myself properly; and I can’t stand it any longer. I’ve got four more months on my contract, but after that I’m going to take another job.’ ‘Did you read my book?’ asked Peter. The man shook his head. ‘Nobody read your book, sir – if you’ll excuse my telling you. It was just put on a shelf for three weeks, and after that Parstone sent you his usual letter. That’s what happens to everything that’s sent in to him. If he gets his money, the book goes straight into the shop, and the proof-reader’s the first man who has to wade through it. Parstone doesn’t care whether it’s written in Hindustani.’ ‘But surely,’ protested Peter half-heartedly, ‘he couldn’t carry on a racket like that in broad daylight and get away with it?’ The reader looked at him with a rather tired smile on his mouse-like features. ‘It’s perfectly legal, sir. Parstone publishes the book. He prints copies and sends them around. It isn’t his fault if the reviewers won’t review it and the booksellers won’t buy it. He carries out his legal undertaking. But it’s a dirty business.’ After a considerably longer conversation, in the course of which a good deal more Scotch was consumed, Peter Quentin was convinced. He was so crestfallen on the way home that Simon took pity on him. ‘Let me read this opus,’ he said, ‘if you’ve got a spare copy. Maybe it isn’t so lousy, and if there’s anything in it we’ll send it along to some other place.’ He had the book the next day; and after ploughing through the first dozen pages his worst fears were realised. Peter Quentin was not destined to take his place in the genealogy of literature with Dumas, Tolstoy and Conan Doyle. The art of writing was not in him. His spelling had a grand simplicity that would have delighted the more progressive orthographists, his grammatical constructions followed in the footsteps of Gertrude Stein, and his punctuation marks seemed to have more connection with intervals for thought and opening beer-bottles than with the requirements of syntax. Moreover, like most first novels, it was embarrassingly personal. It was this fact which made Simon follow it to the bitter end, for the hero of the story was one ‘Ivan Grail, the Robbin Hood of modern crime,’ who could without difficulty be identified with the Saint himself, his ‘beutiful wife’, and ‘Frank Morris his acomplis whos hard-bitten featurs consealed a very clever brain and witt’. Simon Templar swallowed all the flattering evidences of hero-worship that adorned the untidy pages, and actually blushed. But after he had reached the conclusion – inscribed ‘FINNIS’ in triumphant capitals – he did some heavy thinking. Later on he saw Peter again. ‘What was it that bit your features so hard?’ he asked. ‘Did you try to kiss an alligator?’ Peter turned pink. ‘I had to describe them somehow,’ he said defensively. ‘You’re too modest,’ said the Saint, after inspecting him again. ‘They were not merely bitten – they were thoroughly chewed.’ ‘Well, what about the book?’ said Peter hopefully. ‘Was it any good?’ ‘It was lousy,’ Simon informed him, with the privileged candour of friendship. ‘It would have made Dumas turn in his grave. All the same, it may be more readable after I’ve revised it for you. And perhaps we will let Comrade Parstone publish it after all.’ Peter blinked. ‘But I thought—’ ‘I have an idea,’ said the Saint. ‘Parstone has published dud books too long. It’s time he had a good one. Will you get your manuscript back from him, Peter – tell him you want to make a few corrections, and that you’ll send him his money and let him print it. For anyone who so successfully conceals a very clever brain and wit,’ he added cruelly, ‘there are much more profitable ways of employing them than writing books, as you ought to know.’ For two weeks after that the Saint sat at his typewriter for seven hours a day, hammering out page after page of neat manuscript at astonishing speed. He did not merely revise Peter Quentin’s story – he re-wrote it from cover to cover, and the result would certainly not have been recognised by its original creator. The book was sent in again from his own address, and consequently Peter did not see the proofs. Simon Templar read them himself; and his ribs were aching long before he had finished. The Gay Adventurer, by Peter Quentin, was formally pushed out upon a callous world about two months later. The Times did not notice it, the library buyers did not refill their fountain pens to sign the order forms, the lynx-eyed scouts of Hollywood did not rush in with open contracts; but nevertheless it was possible for a man with vast patience and dogged determination to procure a copy, by which achievement Mr Parstone had fulfilled the letter of his contract. Simon Templar did not need to exercise patience and determination to obtain his copy, because the author’s presentation dozen came to his apartment; and it happened that Peter Quentin came there on the same morning. Peter noticed the open parcel of books, and fell on them at once, whinnying like an eager stallion. But he had scarcely glanced over the first page when he turned to the Saint with wrathful eyes. ‘This isn’t my book at all,’ he shouted indignantly. ‘We’ll call it a collaboration if you like,’ said the Saint generously. ‘But I thought you might as well have the credit. My name is so famous already—’ Peter had been turning the pages frantically. ‘But this – this is awful!’ he expostulated. ‘It’s – it’s—’ ‘Of course it is,’ agreed the Saint. ‘And that’s why you must never tell anyone that I had anything to do with it. When the case comes to court, I shall expect you to perjure yourself blue in the face on that subject.’ After the revelations that have been made in the early stages of this story, no one will imagine that on the same morning Mr Herbert Parstone was pacing feverishly up and down his office, quivering with anxiety and parental pride, stopping every now and then to peer at the latest circulation figures rushed in by scurrying office-boys and bawling frantic orders to an excited staff of secretaries, salesmen, shippers, clerks, exporters and truck drivers. As a matter of fact, even the most important and reputable publishers do not behave like that. They are usually too busy concentrating on mastering that loose shoulder and smooth follow-through which carries the ball well over that nasty bunker on the way to the fourteenth. Mr Herbert Parstone was not playing golf, because he had a bad cold; and he was in his office when the Saint called. The name on the card that was sent in to him was unfamiliar, but Mr Parstone never refused to see anyone who was kind enough to walk into his parlour. He was a short ginger-haired man with the kind of stomach without which no morning coat and gold watch-chain can be seen to their best advantage; and the redness of his prominent nose was not entirely due to his temporary affliction. ‘Mr Teblar?’ he said, with great but obstructed geniality. ‘Please sit dowd. I dode thig I’ve had the pleasure of beetig you before, have I?’ ‘I don’t think so,’ said the Saint pleasantly. ‘But any real pleasure is worth waiting for.’ He took the precious volume which he was carrying from under his arm, and held it up. ‘Did you publish this?’ Mr Parstone looked at it. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘that is one of our publicashuds. A bost excelledd ad ibportad book, if I bay perbid byself to say so. A book, I bight say, which answers problebs which are dear to every wud of us today.’ ‘It will certainly have some problems to answer,’ said the Saint; ‘and I expect they’ll be dear enough. Do you know the name of the principal character in this book? Do you know who this biography is alleged to be about?’ ‘Biography?’ stammered Mr Parstone, blinking at the cover. ‘The book is a dovel. A work of fickshud. It is clearly explaid—’ ‘The book is supposed to be a biography,’ said the Saint. ‘And do you know the name of the principal character?’ Mr Parstone’s brow creased with thought. ‘Pridcipal character?’ he repeated. ‘Led be see, led be see. I ought to dough, oughtud I?’ He blew his nose several times, sniffed, sighed, and spread out his hand uncertainly. ‘Iddn it abazing?’ he said. ‘The dabe was od the tip of by tug, but dow I cadd rebember id.’ ‘The name is Simon Templar,’ said the Saint grimly; and Mr Parstone sat up. ‘What?’ he ejaculated. Simon opened the book and showed him the name in plain print. Then he took it away to a chair and lighted a cigarette. ‘Rather rude of you, wasn’t it?’ he murmured. ‘Well, by dear Bister Teblar,’ said Parstone winningly. ‘I trust you are dot thinkig that any uncomblibendary referedds was intended. Far frob id. These rebarkable coidcidedces will happud. Ad yet it is dot every yug bad of your age who fides his dabe preserved for posterity id such a work as that. The hero of that book, as I rebember him, was a fellow of outstaddig charb—’ ‘He was a low criminal,’ said the Saint virtuously. ‘Your memory is failing you, Herbert. Let me read you some of the best passages.’ He turned to a page he had marked. ‘Listen to this, Herbert,’ he said. ‘“Simon Templar was never particular about how he made money, so long as he made it. The drug traffic was only one of his many sources of income, and his conscience was never touched by the thought of the hundreds of lives he ruined by his insatiable avarice. Once, in a night club, he pointed out to me a fine and beautiful girl on whose lovely face the ravages of dope were already beginning to make their mark. ‘I’ve had two thousand pounds from her since I started her on the stuff,’ he said gloatingly, ‘and I’ll have five thousand more before it kills her.’ I could multiply instances of that kind by the score, and refrain only from fear of nauseating my readers. Sufficient, at least, has already been said to show what an unspeakable ruffian was this man who called himself the Saint.”’ However hard it might have been for Mr Parstone to place the name of Simon Templar, he was by no means ignorant of the Saint. His watery eyes popped halfway out of their sockets, and his jaw hardened at the same time. ‘So you’re the Saind?’ he said. ‘Of course,’ murmured Simon. ‘Id your own words, a low cribidal—’ Simon shook his head. ‘Oh, no, Herbert,’ he said. ‘By no means as low as that. My reputation may be bad, but it’s only rumour. You may whisper it to your friends, but the law doesn’t allow you to put it in writing. That’s libel. And you couldn’t even get Chief Inspector Teal to testify that my record would justify anything like the language this book of yours has used about me. ‘My sins were always fairly idealistic, and devoted to the squashing of beetles like yourself – not to trading in drugs and grinding the faces of the poor. But you haven’t heard anything like the whole of it. Listen to some more.’ He turned to another selected passage. ‘“The Saint”,’ he read, ‘“always seemed to derive a peculiar malicious pleasure from robbing and swindling those who could least afford to lose. To my dying day, I shall be haunted by the memory of the fiendish glee which distorted his face when he told me that he had stolen five pounds from a woman with seven children, who had scraped and saved for months to get the money together. He accepted the money from her as a fee for trying to trace the grave of her father, who had been reported ‘missing’ in 1943. Of course he never made any attempt to carry out his share of the bargain. He played this cruel trick on several occasions, and always with the same sadistic pleasure, which I believe meant far more to him than the actual cash which he derived from it.”’ ‘Is that id the book too?’ asked Parstone hoarsely. ‘Naturally,’ said the Saint. ‘That’s what I’m reading it from. And there are lots more interesting things. Look here. “The bogus companies floated by Templar, in which thousands upon thousands of widows and orphans were deprived—”’ ‘Wait!’ interrupted Parstone tremblingly. ‘This is terrible – a terrible coidcideds. The book will be withdrawd at wuds. Hardly eddywud will have had tibe to read it. Ad if eddy sball cobbensation I cad give—’ Simon closed his book with a smile and laid it on Mr Parstone’s desk. ‘Shall we say fifty thousand pounds?’ he suggested affably. Mr Parstone’s face reddened to the verge of an apoplectic stroke, and he brought up his handkerchief with shaking hands. ‘How buch?’ he whispered. ‘Fifty thousand pounds,’ repeated the Saint. ‘After all, that’s a very small amount of damages to ask for a libel like this. If the case has to go to court, I think it will be admitted that never in the whole history of modern law has such a colossal libel been put on paper. If there is any crime under the sun of which I’m not accused in that book, I’ll sit down right now and eat it. And there are three hundred and twenty pages of it – eighty thousand words of continuous and unbridled insult. For a thing like that, Herbert, I think fifty thousand pounds is pretty cheap.’ ‘You could’n get it,’ said Parstone harshly. ‘It’s the author’s liability—’ ‘I know that clause,’ answered the Saint coolly, ‘and you may be interested to know that it has no legal value whatever. In a successful libel action, the author, printer and publisher are joint tortfeasors, and none of them can indemnify the other. Ask your solicitor. As a matter of fact,’ he added prophetically, ‘I don’t expect I shall be able to recover anything from the author, anyway. Authors are usually broke. But you are both the printer and the publisher, and I’m sure I can collect from you.’ Mr Parstone stared at him with blanched lips. ‘But fifty thousad pouds is ibpossible,’ he whined. ‘It would ruid be!’ ‘That’s what I mean to do, dear old bird,’ said the Saint gently. ‘You’ve gone on swindling a lot of harmless idiots for too long already, and now I want you to see what it feels like when it happens to you.’ He stood up, and collected his hat. ‘I’ll leave you the book,’ he said, ‘in case you want to entertain yourself some more. But I’ve got another copy; and if I don’t receive your cheque by the first post on Friday morning it will go straight to my solicitors. And you can’t kid yourself about what that will mean.’ For a long time after he had gone Mr Herbert Parstone sat quivering in his chair. And then he reached out for the book and began to skim through its pages. And with every page his livid face went greyer. There was no doubt about it. Simon Templar had spoken the truth. The book was the most monumental libel that could ever have found its way into print. Parstone’s brain reeled before the accumulation of calumnies which it unfolded. His furious ringing of the bell brought his secretary running. ‘Fide me that proof-reader!’ he howled. ‘Fide be the dab fool who passed this book!’ He flung the volume on to the floor at her feet. ‘Sed hib to be at wuds! I’ll show hib. I’ll bake hib suffer. By God, I’ll—’ The other things that Mr Parstone said he would do cannot be recorded in such a respectable publication as this. His secretary picked up the book and looked at the title. ‘Mr Timmins left yesterday – he was the man you fired four months ago,’ she said; but even then Mr Parstone was no wiser.

I. The Bride for Whom We Dance. The Eleventh Year of the Era of Kansei. 1799.

THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET, by David Mitchell

Read the first chapter of David Mitchell's brilliant THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET.

Colm O'gorman

Colm O'Gorman founded the charity One in Four to support women and men who have experienced sexual violence. Prior to that he worked as a therapist in private practice in London. He is a former Senator on the Irish Parliament and is now Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland. In 1998 he sued the Roman Catholic Church over its systematic cover-ups of child abuse scandals involving its priests, and won. He lives in County Wexford with his family.

Hodder Paperbacks

Beyond Belief

Colm O'gorman

'I was living in a world where a priest who spoke the words of God used me for sex, and there was no-one to tell. The world where this horror happened didn't exist for anyone else.' As a boy in Ireland where everyone - from among his own neighbours to the powers of church and state - chose to deny that a priest could sexually assault a child, Colm O'Gorman felt only shame, guilt and fear at the regular rape and abuse he suffered. But Colm would go on to make history, successfully suing the Roman Catholic Church, asking questions of the Pope himself and creating a watershed in history as hundreds more victims found the courage to report their abuse.Beyond Belief is a powerful story of a young man's shame turning to outrage, and demonstrates that - whatever our past hurts - there is hope for the future if we are prepared to stand for truth.

Hodder & Stoughton

Dolores Claiborne

Stephen King

Dolores Claiborne has a story to tell. But it is not quite what the police had expected. Dolores Claiborne has a confession to make . . . She will take her time. Won't be hurried. Will do it her way, sparing neither details nor feelings. Hers or anyone else's.This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Truth that takes you to the edge of darkness.Dolores Claiborne has a story to tell and you'd better pay attention - or else.

Sceptre

The Daughters of Mars

Thomas Keneally

In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father's dairy farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first in the Dardanelles, then on the Western Front.Yet amid the carnage, Naomi and Sally Durance become the friends they never were at home and find themselves courageous in the face of extreme danger, as well as the hostility they encounter from some on their own side. There is great bravery, humour and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of some remarkable women. And in France, where Naomi nurses in a hospital set up by the eccentric Lady Tarlton while Sally works in a casualty clearing station, each meets an exceptional man: the kind of men for whom they might give up some of their precious independence - if only they all survive.At once vast in scope and extraordinarily intimate, The Daughters of Mars brings the First World War to vivid, concrete life from an unusual perspective. A searing and profoundly moving tale, it pays tribute to the men and women who voluntarily risked their lives for peace.

Sceptre

Boxer, Beetle

Ned Beauman

NED BEAUMAN HAS BEEN NAMED AS ONE OF GRANTA MAGAZINE'S BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS 2013Longlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the for the Guardian First Book Award, Ned Beauman was chosen by The Culture Show as one of the twelve Best New British Writers in 2011.This is a novel for people with breeding. Only people with the right genes and the wrong impulses will find its marriage of bold ideas and deplorable characters irresistible. It is a novel that engages the mind while satisfying those that crave the thrill of a chase. There are riots and sex. There is love and murder. There is Darwinism and Fascism, nightclubs, invented languages and the dangerous bravado of youth. And there are lots of beetles. It is clever. It is distinctive. It is entertaining. We hope you are too. www.boxerbeetle.com

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The Peacock Emporium

Jojo Moyes

The 2004 novel The Peacock Emporium by Jojo Moyes, the bestselling author of Me Before You and two-time winner of the RNA Novel of the Year award.Athene Forster embraced the Sixties like few others. Nicknamed the Last Deb, she was spoiled, beautiful, and out of control. And within two years of her marriage, the rumours had begun again.Thirty-five years on, Suzanna Peacock finds refuge from her mother's shameful legacy in her shop, the Peacock Emporium. Within its magical walls she discovers not just friendship, and an escape from her troubled marriage, but the first real passion of her life.But the spectre of her mother still haunts Suzanna, setting in place a series of dramatic events. Only by confronting the past will she finally be able to face the future . . .

By his editor, Phillipa Pride

An Introduction to Stephen King

Philippa Pride, Stephen King's longtime editor, gives an introductory guide to one of the world's most popular authors.

Hodder Paperbacks

I Heard You Paint Houses

Charles Brandt

'I heard you paint houses' are the first words Jimmy Hoffa ever spoke to Frank 'the Irishman' Sheeran. To paint a house is to kill a man. The paint is the blood that splatters on the wall and floors. In the course of nearly five years of recorded interviews Frank Sheeran confessed to Charles Brandt that he handled more than twenty-five hits for the Mob, and for his friend Hoffa. Sheeran learned to kill in the US Army, where he saw an astonishing 411 days of active combat during World War 2. After returning home he became a hustler and a hit man, working for legenday crime boss Russell Bufalino. Eventually Sheeran would rise to a position of such prominence that he was named as one of only two non-Italians on a list of the twenty-six most wanted Mob figures. When Bufalino ordered Sheeran to kill Hoffa, the Irishman did the deed, knowing that if he refused, he would have been killed himself. Sheeran's important and fascinating story includes brand new information on other famous murders, and provides rare insight into an infamous chapter in US and Mafia history. This is a page turner that is destined to become a true-crime classic.

Reading Group Guide

LISEY'S STORY BY STEPHEN KING

Reading group guide to use alongside Stephen King's LISEY'S STORY.

Chapter One

THE PEOPLE'S TRAIN, by Thomas Keneally

Read the first chapter of Thomas Keneally's THE PEOPLE'S TRAIN.

Sceptre

Nightwoods

Charles Frazier

The main lesson Luce had learned was that you couldn't count on anybody. In the lonesome beauty of the forest, across the far shore of the mountain lake from town, Luce acts as caretaker to an empty, decaying Lodge, a relic of holidaymakers a century before. Her days are long and peaceful, her nights filled with Nashville radio and yellow lights shimmering on the black water. A solitary life, and the perfect escape. Until the stranger children come. Bringing fire. And murder. And love.

Hodder & Stoughton

Fatal Impact

Kathryn Fox

THE SEVENTH CRIME NOVEL IN THE BRILLIANT ANYA CRICHTON SERIES - A SERIOUS RIVAL TO PATRICIA CORNWELL'S DR KAY SCARPETTA.When forensic pathologist Dr Anya Crichton finds a dead child in a toy box and a room covered in blood the answer is like nothing she has come across before. The post mortem reveals that the girl died from a deadly bacterial infection brought on by food poisoning. But does that mean there isn't a murderer?Anya was only meant to be in Tasmania for a conference and to visit her mother, but when more people fall sick, including her father's cousin, Anya becomes intimately involved in the case. At the same time, her mother - with whom Anya has always had a difficult relationship ever since her little sister Miriam went missing thirty years ago - is acting strangely, talking about conspiracies and exhibiting classic signs of dementia. As Anya deals with her increasingly paranoid, intractable mother, she is also racing to discover the source of the fatal bacterial infection before more people die. But Anya's investigations into the close-knit Tasmanian agricultural community where the contaminated food originated soon put her in grave danger as someone tries to kill her. As the deaths pile up, Anya's search leads her to an old murder case, and soon it becomes clear that her own family is closer to danger than ever before. But will Anya be able to discover the truth behind the poisoning and unmask the killer in time to save them, and herself?