We all know about Daunt Books, but this one is truly daunting. Not due to its content but, oh dear, the weight. Ask Santa for a lectern. It’s hardly the thing for the beach in Barbados, but its 800-odd pages will surely keep you head-down till winter’s end.
No one who has ever come into contact with Naim Attallah could refuse his requests. There is something about the stoop, the darting eyes, the ears like smashed teapots, the glistening cranium that defies the answer no. And there’s that faintly daffy expression and, always, the wildly colourful ties to put one at ease.
While all his publishing life he’s commissioned books ranging from the frivolous to the instructive, his own have been manifestly intellectual. But Attallah is not out to entrap; amused as he is by gossip, it’s far from his preoccupation – though sometimes, happily, a bit creeps in. Meticulously researched