First there was Nicholas Lezard's great review in the Guardian - in print on Saturday, on line now at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/apr/24/1948-andy-croft-review, and then there was the book launch last night at Bookmarks in London. 52 people crammed into the shop to hear Martin Rowson talk about political cartooning and to read from his Smokestack book The Limerickiad (volume one) and Andy Croft read from 1948. Martin had sent out an email to his friends reading "This is going to be in the form of a performance with me and Andy talking about the book, the Olympics and anything else that comes into our heads, rather than a piss-up. IT WILL INVOLVE THE READING OF POETRY OUT LOUD. This may well affect your decision. You have been warned!!!". Despite the absence of the piss-up, a whinge of cartoonists (Martin's collective noun) turned up as well as poetry fans, Orwellians, editors from Tribune, 3am and Red Pepper and a group of authors and editors from the Five Leaves stable, mostly those with forthcoming books, including Peter Vacher (his jazz book is due in the autumn), Andrew Whitehead and Cathi Unsworth (both involved in our book on London fiction) and Lesley Acton (currently writing a social history of allotments). It was also good to catch up with Peter Lawson who edited our Passionate Renewal anthology of Jewish poetry. The laughter at one of Rowson's rhymes ending in "shiksa" indicated that Peter had a lot in common with many of those in the room.
It was a good night for 1948 and there was a lot of networking too. Bookmarks flies the flag for socialist and trade union books in central London, and is well organised and friendly. I always enjoy our book launches there and the shop finds that new visitors often come back.
I've been running Five Leaves Publications since 1996 and have jointly organised Lowdham Book Festival for the last twelve years. I used to work in radical bookselling and as Nottinghamshire's Literature Development Officer.