Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Bookselling With Mr Grant in Notting Hill...

Back in the olden times when folk shopped on the high street, grubby urchins sang for their supper and e-bay was just a series of barrows on wheels I owned a bookshop.  During those balmy, sepia tinted, days publishers were fond of splashing the cash and generally having huge parties when their authors finished books.  The idea of having a party to celebrate the prospect of maybe making back some of the advance the author had doubtless already spent on the essentials of the writerly life - beer and fags - seems bizarre in the current climate but children, it was thus...

Booksellers love parties.  Ok, I should qualify that statement.  Booksellers love parties where there is a plentiful supply of free booze.  Let's just say we went to parties on a regular basis, sometimes just to party, sometimes to sell books and party.  These occasions were the best - until the next day when you realised you'd lost count of how many copies were sold, had spent half the takings at a lock in on the way home or woke up in Brighton.  I suppose the very greatest events were the ones where the publisher forgot who had been selling the book and you wobbled off into the sunset with a nice pile of wonga.  Yeah, publishers like a drink too.  

Eventually, the point of this post emerges.  We sold the book at an event to celebrate Colin Grant's excellent book Negro With A Hat, a fine biography of Marcus Garvey.  The venue was a bar in Notting Hill, the top floor to be exact.  Had we over-estimated the stock we might need?  Well maybe just a little bit.  There were boxes and boxes of books, lovely books, hardback books, really well reviewed and written books that we were going to be selling at TWENTY QUID each.  Heavy.  The boxes were heavy.  The stairs were many, the staircase narrow, the publicists were all wearing high heels so the man who would later develop a hernia (ME!) carried them all up.  Now maybe you have seen the film Notting Hill starring Hugh Grant?  The green door and all that?  Well let's just say that the version of Notting Hill in that film is more the David Cameron version, let's call it Notting Hill 2.0.  The Notting Hill this event took place in was the one where a pile of boxes of books were stacked on the street outside the venue and every time I came down to lump another one up the stairs a passerby seemed intent on walking off with one.  Twice I appeared to find people investigating the boxes (ripping them open!).  Once I had to run after a bloke and shout at him before he handed the box back.  

To cut a long story short Colin Grant knows how to throw a good party.  He can also write.  

Negro With A Hat is a book I would go so far as to label important.  Why?  Because Marcus Garvey is such an important figure in recent history who has largely been dismissed by our culture as a madman/eccentric.  I remember Colin speaking about what an important role model Marcus Garvey was to him when he was growing up and that young black men needed such figures to inspire and motivate them.  

Now Colin Grant returns with another excellent book (I & I: The Natural Mystics) this time examining the origins of the Wailers.  You get a CD with the book and everything!  

You can read a review of I & I here. 

You can buy it at a great price with free global post and packing here.  

You can buy Negro With A Hat at a great price with free global post and packing here.  

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