How to alienate friends and boost book sales



"Every word Lillian Hellman writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'." So, famously, spat the best-selling author Mary McCarthy about her fellow American writer in 1979. This particular literary feud ended in a lawsuit and was a very modern story: McCarthy tore into Hellman on a prime time American TV show. But this week's publication of previously unseen letters written by Lord Byron in the early 19th century reveals that such warring over words is almost as old as words themselves. Writers, it seems, have always loved a good row.

What's amusing about these "new" letters from Byron is how utterly childish the English writer and poet was in his dismissal of his rivals. You might expect someone widely regarded as one of the greatest British poets that ever existed - a man for whom the phrase "mad, bad and dangerous to know" was literally invented - to come up with withering but urbane put-downs for his writerly peers. But no. In the letters up for auction at Sotheby's, he calls William Wordsworth, William "Turdsworth". It's the kind of thing you might hear in the school playground.

So what inspires such ridiculous behaviour? Ego? Jealousy? Rivalry? Probably all three. How else can you explain Ben Jonson's famously competitive relationship with William Shakespeare? This wasn't quills at dawn, not least because the Bard's company produced some of Jonson's plays. But legend has them arguing fiercely in The Mermaid Tavern, and perhaps Jonson's most famous line is his most derogatory. He was a more considered writer, and found Shakespeare's frenetic turnover of plays baffling: when told that the Bard never blotted out a line, he wished Shakespeare "had blotted a thousand".

It's one of the first examples of literary friends falling out - and it is far more serious than the likes of Truman Capote dismissing Jack Kerouac's counter-cultural opuses as "not writing, but typing". The most famous example of friends feuding is the ongoing stand-off between Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. The ingredients for animosity are certainly there: both have been vying for the throne of best modern Latin American author for decades. García Márquez has the Nobel Prize; Vargas Llosa has the Miguel Cervantes Prize. But these two legends of the modern novel were once so close that García Márquez was godfather to Vargas Llosa's son, Gabriel.

That was until Vargas Llosa punched García Márquez in the face more than three decades ago, and even though these men are in their 70s and 80s, the rancour remains. They've disagreed on politics, and the punch was said to be over a woman, but they've managed to keep a dignified distance from each other's literature. Probably just as well. But as far as headlines go, nothing beats a neat sound bite from an author about someone's else's work. So the fact that Capote didn't stop at Kerouac makes him the author to turn to if you want entertainment from your literary feuds. Beginning in the 1940s, the In Cold Blood writer had particular fun with Gore Vidal, who was insanely jealous of Capote's new-found position as the pre-eminent young American novelist. He called Capote a "dumpy little lowbrow" with "a public relations campaign masquerading as a career".

Capote was something of a New York socialite, so it didn't suit him to ignore such barbs. "Of course, I'm always sad about Gore," he said. "Very sad that he has to breathe every day." Capote regretted his remarks, though - so much, in fact, that he tried to bury the hatchet in 1969, only for Vidal to say Capote's death was a "good career move". Crikey. All of this makes that fact that writers such as Alain de Botton get upset about the mean things that are said about them in the blogosphere seem rather tame, if not precious. Who, then, is a guarantee of 21st-century bile? None other than Martin Amis.

Literary feuds these days are often sparked by poor reviews: in the British press particularly it's often authors themselves who pass judgement on new novels rather than journalists. And while Amis's 2003 book, Yellow Dog, certainly wasn't one of his finest, it was savaged by the novelist and Booker Prize nominee Tibor Fischer: "Yellow Dog isn't bad as 'in not very good' or 'slightly disappointing'. It's 'not-knowing-where-to-look' bad... someone should have said something to Amis." It really wasn't a surprise when Amis retorted that Fischer was a "creep and a wretch ".

And if that takes us back to Byronic playground taunts, then it's just the start as far as Amis is concerned. He's fallen out with his great friend, the writer Christopher Hitchens, after (rather oddly) attacking him in Koba the Dread. He's had a long-running row in the British press with the Catholic-Marxist critic Terry Eagleton over religion and terrorism. And to top it all off, he admitted to unleashing an "eisteddfod of hostility" after winning himself a huge book deal. This wasn't with one or two writers, a la Capote. It was with, basically, the entire literary community.

And what, in the end, do these feuds do? They gain column inches. They're an easy way if not to make friends then to influence people into buying your forthcoming book. William Turdsworth, though... it's still quite funny, isn't it?

The US Congress explained

- Congress is one of three branches of the US government, and the one that creates the nation's federal laws

- Congress is divided into two chambers: The House of Representatives and the Senate

- The House is made up of 435 members based on a state's population. House members are up for election every two years

- A bill must be approved by both the House and Senate before it goes to the president's desk for signature

- A political party needs 218 seats to be in control of the House of Representatives

- The Senate is comprised of 100 members, with each state receiving two senators. Senate members serve six-year terms

- A political party needs 51 seats to control the Senate. In the case of a 50-50 tie, the party of the president controls the Senate

The specs: 2018 Mercedes-Benz S 450

Price, base / as tested Dh525,000 / Dh559,000

Engine: 3.0L V6 biturbo

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic

Power: 369hp at 5,500rpm

Torque: 500Nm at 1,800rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 8.0L / 100km

Profile box

Company name: baraka
Started: July 2020
Founders: Feras Jalbout and Kunal Taneja
Based: Dubai and Bahrain
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $150,000
Current staff: 12
Stage: Pre-seed capital raising of $1 million
Investors: Class 5 Global, FJ Labs, IMO Ventures, The Community Fund, VentureSouq, Fox Ventures, Dr Abdulla Elyas (private investment)

If you go

The flights
Emirates and Etihad fly direct to Nairobi, with fares starting from Dh1,695. The resort can be reached from Nairobi via a 35-minute flight from Wilson Airport or Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, or by road, which takes at least three hours.

The rooms
Rooms at Fairmont Mount Kenya range from Dh1,870 per night for a deluxe room to Dh11,000 per night for the William Holden Cottage.

The specs: 2024 Mercedes E200

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cyl turbo + mild hybrid
Power: 204hp at 5,800rpm +23hp hybrid boost
Torque: 320Nm at 1,800rpm +205Nm hybrid boost
Transmission: 9-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 7.3L/100km
On sale: November/December
Price: From Dh205,000 (estimate)

The specs: 2019 Haval H6

Price, base: Dh69,900

Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 197hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 315Nm @ 2,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 7.0L / 100km

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre flat-six
Power: 525hp (GT3), 500hp (GT4)
Torque: 465Nm (GT3), 450Nm (GT4)
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Price: From Dh944,000 (GT3), Dh581,700 (GT4)
On sale: Now

Sugary teas and iced coffees

The tax authority is yet to release a list of the taxed products, but it appears likely that sugary iced teas and cold coffees will be hit.

For instance, the non-fizzy drink AriZona Iced Tea contains 65 grams of sugar – about 16 teaspoons – per 680ml can. The average can costs about Dh6, which would rise to Dh9.

Cold coffee brands are likely to be hit too. Drinks such as Starbucks Bottled Mocha Frappuccino contain 31g of sugar in 270ml, while Nescafe Mocha in a can contains 15.6g of sugar in a 240ml can.

Boulder shooting victims

• Denny Strong, 20
• Neven Stanisic, 23
• Rikki Olds, 25
• Tralona Bartkowiak, 49
• Suzanne Fountain, 59
• Teri Leiker, 51
• Eric Talley, 51
• Kevin Mahoney, 61
• Lynn Murray, 62
• Jody Waters, 65

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

'Laal Kaptaan'

Director: Navdeep Singh

Stars: Saif Ali Khan, Manav Vij, Deepak Dobriyal, Zoya Hussain

Rating: 2/5

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

MATCH INFO

What: 2006 World Cup quarter-final
When: July 1
Where: Gelsenkirchen Stadium, Gelsenkirchen, Germany

Result:
England 0 Portugal 0
(Portugal win 3-1 on penalties)

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

Company Profile

Name: Neo Mobility
Started: February 2023
Co-founders: Abhishek Shah and Anish Garg
Based: Dubai
Industry: Logistics
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Delta Corp, Pyse Sustainability Fund, angel investors


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