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Death proves no obstacle to a good story

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Imperative will be published in June -- nothing odd about that, except this is the seventh Bourne thriller to be published without any input from the author, who died 11 years ago.

The actual writer is Eric Van Lustbader, but of course Ludlum's money-spinning name will dominate the book cover.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Deaver's Carte Blanche, published last year, was the 37th James Bond book written since 007 creator Ian Fleming died in 1964.

Fourteen Alistair MacLean adventures have been invented since MacLean's death in 1987, and there've been well over 60 supernatural thrillers published in Virginia Andrews' name since her passing in 1986.

These are all lowbrow books cashing in on the popularity of dead authors, but surely there's a market for literary contributions in the same money-making vein. How about A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Sex Addict? Or The Further Escapades of Molly Bloom?

I shouldn't joke because now that Joyce is out of copyright somebody is probably embarked on precisely such an undertaking.

*****

Aifric Campbell, Emma Donoghue and Anne Enright are among the authors longlisted for the women-only Orange Prize, though two of the year's most arresting Irish novels -- Christine Dwyer Hickey's The Cold Eye of Heaven and Belinda McKeon's Solace -- are notable by their absence from the list, announced by judging panel chairperson Joanna Trollope.

She used the occasion to add her own tuppenceworth to the ongoing e-book debate, arguing that iPads and Kindles will never replace printed books because "you cannot love a library of e-books".

I'm with her there, and I also take her point that the rise of e-books risks "homogenising" literature by putting the works of Tolstoy and Katie Price in the exact same format on the exact same screen, implying that there's no essential difference between them.

Except, of course, that more people read Price than Tolstoy.

Indo Review