Just because the government tells you something doesn’t mean you have to believe it.
Tomorrow: Julie Day reads Kij Johnson’s “The Empress Jingu Fishes” on the Small Beer podcast.
And check out Wired.com’s Geek Mom interview with Kij. Kij is off to Oxford to give the JRR Tolkien lecture on fantastic fiction and to teach a workshop: lovely!
I just interviewed Karen Lord, whose lovely new novel The Best of All Possible Worlds comes out from Del Rey next month, for BookPage. That should go up at the start of February.
In April it’s last chance to see Under the Poppy in Detroit. Do it!
The Village Voice gives Errantry a stormer of a review:
“With grand feeling and inventiveness, Hand writes of modern life edging just into the impossible. Her ragged modern characters, often lost or stoned or just unfixed in their lives, set out over moors or into hidden parks in search of realities less dispiriting than our own.”
Kelly’s “The Faery Handbag” is this week’s story on the Bookslinger app.
The first review has come in for the new ish of LCRW. Here’s Sam Tomaino at SF Revu on LCRW 28:
“Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is the kind of magazine that you want to read slowly. Read a story. Put the magazine down. Absorb what you have just read. Then, after a while, read another story. Repeat. After more than a year’s absence here is issue #28 with more of their very different stories.”
Scottish Television loves Alasdair Gray almost as much as we do. He’s doing another piece of public art in Glasgow—can’t wait to go over next summer and see it all—this time at the Western Baths Club. (Ok, so I may not be able to go see this one). Here’s the video of the unveiling of his previous mural in the Glasgow subway. It’s based on the art from Old Men in Love.
That’s it, out of time.
Over in the UK Alasdair Gray‘s star is really shining. There are exhibits, new books, new projects, he has a ton of stuff going on. Pity he doesn’t like air travel or we could get him over here. Here’s a short vid about a fabulous looking exhibition in Edinburgh. I wish I could see it (not likely!) but at least there’s this. It is amazing to see the size and detail in some of those prints:
It’s been a huge week for Alasdair Gray—in more ways than one.
A new book of his art, A Life in Pictures, has come out (can’t wait to get a copy), there’s an exhibition of sketches from the book in Edinburgh, and it was announced that Gray will be creating a mural in one of Glasgow’s subway stations “based the on the panaromic view of Hillhead used in an illustration for his novel, Old Men in Love.” You can see a clip of him on the Scottish news here.
If you’re in Glasgow (hello Ross!) don’t miss Irregular, a night at Oran Mor with:
Alasdair Gray, Liz Lochhead, Louise Welsh and David Shrigley. Music from Roddy Woomble, Lord Cut-Glass and My Latest Novel.
Would that we could go!
Old Men in Love is a huge patchwork novel with three narrative strands and an absolutely fascinating interstitial story. It was without a doubt one of the most complicated books we’ve ever published. It’s in two colors (colours, really), throughout, and includes three double page plates like the one of Hillhead mentioned above. You can preview the book on Scribd and get your copy here.
Everything has slowed down at Small Beer hq due to the summer heat and maybe maybe perhaps that little thing that World Cup. Yay for the future arriving and being able to watch most of the matches on ESPN3—or free at many many bars, mmm. Sadly the White Horse Tavern in Allston was out of Dogfish IPA two days in a row but Troeg’s Hopback Amber was a good substitute.
Congratulations to Gerbrand Bakker (and translator David Colmer and Archipelago Books!) whose novel The Twin just won the 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Between that and Tinkers receiving the Pulitzer price it makes for a great year for independent presses!
We have a fun update on Kathe Koja’s book coming later this week. Let’s just say you should order then, not now. Oooh!
What else we’re up to:
Watching the World Cup. No, really, there are 3 games a day at the moment. How is anyone supposed to do anything else but sit in bars, drink, and watch the games? Deadlines? Whoosh!
Also, Kelly‘s about done with her blogging, although she does promise a couple more posts here and at Gwenda’s at a time TBA. Nice to see Gwenda (and some others) poking her head up above the bunkers again. We too watch the True Blood but are a season behind. Ah, DVDs.
Châteaureynaud has a backlist for American readers that this book makes enticingly tangible, almost real. His own work is such that it might be subject of one of his stories. This might be all there is, the rest pure fabrication. The unreal, awaiting translation.
Gray’s new novel, Old Men in Love, is a mash-up of several different voices, creating a narrative through collage. The main text is presented as the posthumous papers of a retired Glaswegian schoolmaster named John Tunnock, seemingly edited by Gray. Tunnock’s a rogue whose exploits often backfire on him, and the novel contains everything from historical fictions set in Renaissance Italy to accounts of how his young mistresses take advantage of him.
How awesome was that week? Well, apart from the commenter—who says he’s a big fan of the author—who gave the book 1 star because he can’t read it in the format he wants. Oh well.
Old Men in Love was also reviewed by a long-time reader of Gray’s books, Gerry Donaghy, on Powell’s Review-a-Day:
Clear in this book, as in past volumes, is Gray’s devotion to the idea of the book as an object. Throughout his career he has designed his own books (usually to either save his publisher some cash or collect a second paycheck), and Old Men in Love is no exception. Poorly suited to a Kindle reading experience, it’s filled with various typefaces, ornamental drawings, and Blake-inspired illustrations. Even the boards of the book itself are tooled in silver-looking flake. If eBooks are the future, it looks like Gray is going to go out swinging.
A bit of LCRW news:
Does seem like there was more going on. But somehow the day has passed passed and gone and now it’s either time to see Luis Alberto Urrea at the Harvard Bookstore, or not! And, tomorrow: Colson Whitehead. And, in a few weeks, David Mitchell. Ooh, those lit’ry mens.
At last! We have copies, the author (post office willing) will soon have his copies, lovely people who pre-ordered theirs have their copies, NPR got their copies (and one of our local stations, WBUR, has reprinted that review), NYTimes, and so on, all have their copies, everyone can get copies of Alasdair Gray’s latest novel Old Men in Love: John Tunnock’s Posthumous Papers. Reviewers? Want a copy? Drop us a line!
Fun coming up: Alasdair will be interviewed online. More on that if and when it happens. And, for the nonce, here’s an interview from October on the center of all things internet, The Rumpus.
Also, you can read an excerpt on Scribd. (No, there will not be an ebook although we’ll talk more to Alasdair about that later.)
This book was awesome to publish: not just because I’ve been reading Alasdair’s books for years but it was great to deal with Alasdair—and his lovely secretary, Helen—when things went pear-shaped with the Bloomsbury files. Weeks disappeared. Weeks! But it has (almost!) all come out ok in the end.
One of the parts that was easiest about publishing this book was the flap copy because the UK edition already had copy written by Will Self so we’ll post it here just for all yous:
Alasdair Gray’s new novel, Old Men in Love, exhibits all of those faintly preposterous foibles that make him a writer more loved than prized. The bulk of the text constitutes the posthumous papers of a recondite – yet venal – retired Glaswegian schoolmaster, named John Tunnock (as in the celebrated tea cake), that have, seemingly, been edited and collated by Gray himself.
This literary subterfuge serves to fool no one who needs fooling, yet will satisfy all who believe that the truth can be found more exactly in chance occurrences, serendipity, and the eggy scrapings from the breakfast plates of the neglected, than any crude, linear naturalism.
Tunnock is a beguiling figure, at once feisty and fusty. His historical fictions chivvy us into Periclean Athens, Renaissance Italy and then bury our noses in the ordure of sanctity given off by charismatic Victorian religious sectaries. Excursions into geological time are placed in counterpoint to diaristic jottings describing Tunnock’s own erotic misadventures and the millennial trivia of the Anthony Linton Blair Government’s final five years.
Only Gray can be fecklessly sexy as well as insidiously sagacious. Only Gray can beguile quite so limpidly. If I were a Hollywood screenwriter (which, to the best of my knowledge, I am not), I would pitch the film adaptation of Old Men in Love thus: ‘Imagine Lanark meets Something Leather, with a kind of Poor Things feel to it…’ By this I mean to convey to this novel’s readers that Alasdair Gray remains, first and foremost, entirely sui generis. He’s the very best Alasdair Gray that we have, and we should cherish his works accordingly.
Mon 26 Apr 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., Alasdair Gray, blind consumerism, bookshops, Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, Interstitial Arts, Julia Holmes, Karen Lord, translations | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin
Catch-up post about recent happenings with our books.
1) April: Alasdair Gray! At last! Nope. Now a June book due to a printer error. Sigh. You can see an excerpt on Scribd.
2) May: Edward Gauvin (translator of A Life on Paper) was recently blogging on translations, Belgium, and more at the 3% blog. (Surely 3.5% by now?)
4) June: 2 starred reviews so far for Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo!
5) July: good news coming soon on Julia Holmes’s debut novel Meeks.
Ok, bored with numbering now. The Interstitial Arts Foundation has a call for papers for a new interstitial-sounding anthology:
What is Interfictions Zero? Interfictions Zero is an online virtual anthology, comprised of a Table of Contents listing seminal pieces of published interstitial writings (with live links to those texts where possible) and original essays about the focus pieces listed in the TOC. With the online publication of Interfictions Zero, the Interstitial Arts Foundation will begin to create a historical context for how interstitial writing affects the growth and development of literature over time.
There’s also an interesting addition to the ongoing conversation about translations at the IAF blog.
Poets & Writers spotlights one of Chicago’s many wonderful bookstores: Women & Children First.
Do you like Rachel Maddow? Essentials in Northampton has the shirt for you—in white or pink and 10% of all proceeds will be donated to support the Capital Campaign for the Northampton Survival Center.
Apparently the folks at Essentials aren’t having quite enough fun there so there’s this site, too: My Parents Made Me Wear This.
The NY Center for Indie Publishing their 6th Annual New York Round Table Writers’ Conference, May 1 (er, tomorrow!), 9AM- 7PM, where you can meet various people in publishing—including Kelly’s fabby agent Renee Zuckerbrot. Tickets are Members – $69.00/Non-Members – $89.00/Student – $20.00:
Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve or confirm a spot today – we hope to see you all here on May 1st!
And that’s it for now. Maybe there’ll be more later. After all, what else is there to do on a spring afternoon but haunt the web and wait until the tick tick tick hits leaving time!
Also: we just bit the bullet and moved Alasdair Gray’s novel Old Men in Love: John Tunnock’s Posthumous Papers from April to June. The pre-press work on this was really awful, but thanks to the good people at Thomson-Shore our edition should be beautiful and this fabuloso novel should ship out at the end of this month and start hitting stores (and the review pages) in mid-May.
Catching up on the open tabs: be gone before the weekend!
Geoff Ryman is interviewed at The Short Review—which is an awesome site that only reviews that most commercial of forms, the short story!
Lois Ava-Matthews and friends have a great new(ish) online zine, Belletrista, whose mission is to Celebrate Women Writers Around the World. Issue 4 just went up and in it Tim Jones reviews Kalpa Imperial:
it stands in the distinguished tradition of fabulation of authors such as Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino, and it is arguably not a novel at all, but a collection of linked stories. As translated by Ursula K. Le Guin from the 1983 original, it reminded me most of a humanist equivalent of Gene Wolfe’s science fiction series The Book Of The New Sun.
Diagram has a 10 year antho which is a set of cards. Buy now.
I am still left puzzled as to what the deciding factor was for the choice and placement of the stories that are included in this anthology. It doesn’t seem to be restricted to particular themes, or to stories that contain an element of fantasy, or even stories that are unusual narratively.
And Erin asks are there interstitial writers in (between) other genres?
Speaking of (potentially) interstitial stuff, our Alasdair Gray book is at the printer and fingers crossed all will go well with all that pretty blue art on the inside. Here’s that bottle of whisky that he did the art for. Must try!
Our friends at Zygote games posted about an 11,000 year old site in Turkey.
When the Great Pyramid was built in Egypt, those stones in Turkey were older than the Pyramids are today.
Phew. Also, while you’re at it, pick up both their games for only $20!
Long-running, reliably good lit-zine. . . . There are stories from just about every genre, from fairy tales, surreal stories, and even an essay on logic problems. I enjoyed the bizarre surprise ending of “The LoveSling” and the engrossing story of “The Girl with No Hands. Truly something for everyone.
24 gets a light lambasting:
The bulk of the zine is the fiction pieces. They all seem to have the exact same style.
Eek! But they go on to say “Those who like to discover new writers, check this out.”
Fri 19 Feb 2010 - Filed under: Not a Journal., Alasdair Gray, Big Mouth House, Cons, Holly Black, Interstitial Arts, Jedediah Berry, John Kessel, Kelly Link, To Read Pile | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin
Today’s the day when The Poison Eaters should be showing up the office. Dum-de-dum (waits, impatiently). Nice reviews have recently shown up in School Library Journal (“Although they are often centered on bleak, dark characters, the pieces inspire hope, are touching and delightful, and even turn the most ghoulish characters into feeling beings.”) and in BookPage (she shows “amazing range”—yes indeed she does!).
Update: Powell’s say they have it in their remote warehouse! Any remote viewers who can see it?? Maybe they mean Ingram, as they have it.
So in the meantime a few things:
Alasdair Gray (Old Men in Love) writes about the importance of place. Consider, he suggests, Dumbarton (which means “fortress of the Britons”).
We dropped the price of last year’s hottie The Baum Plan for Financial Independence to $9.95.
Con or Bust is running a fundraiser auction to assist people of color who want to attend WisCon from Feb. 22—Mar. 13. They’re looking for donations and buyers! Any suggestions for what we should donate??
BTW, if you’re going to WisCon, I’ll see you there! Sans baby, sadly (will try not to whine too much. But will some, so there). Maybe 2011.
We just signed up another book. Well, verbally. Will wait for the contracts (always good to have it on paper before announcing things) and then spring it upon the world. Fun fun fun!
The post office just delivered an empty envelope that should have been full of zines. Woe is me.
Past-LCRW contributor Katharine Beutner who is “currently being squashed under the weight of my dissertation” slipped out from underneath it to do an interview with us about her Ancient Greek underworld novel Alcestis which is out this month. Interview will go up next week or so.
Kelly’s contributor copies of Ellen Datlow’s new anthology, Tails of Wonder and Imagination just came in—her story is “Catskin” is one of many many other stories about cats. Who knew people wrote so much about the little beasties?
Might be imagining seeing a copy of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Vol. 4.
Tra la la la la. Wait. Dum-de-dum. Wait some more.
and so we are working like mad mad mad on our April book. Which is, I have to say, a bit of a stunner in a couple of ways: that we managed to acquire the title and of course the book itself.
My parents and my own reading tastes only match up sometimes—it would be fun to try and quantify how much/little but I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get them onto LibraryThing or Goodreads. Back when I was in high school my mother suggested I try Alasdair Gray’s Lanark. Sadly for me I put it aside (with other recommendations, woe is me) for years. After all, if my mother liked it surely it wouldn’t be a brain-mangling metafiction set in a world I sort of knew (Scotland) and its mirror underside? It wouldn’t be a modern classic that had been anticipated by those in the know for 20-30 years? Urgh. Should have read it.
A few years later in uni when I got around to it I went straight to the university library and read through what I could find in quick order: I think 1982, Janine, Something Leather, and a fabulous collection, Unlikely Stories, Mostly. Later on I was able to catch up on most of what I’d missed and tended to try and read his books when they came out, including Poor Things, A History Maker, another great collection, Ten Tales Tall & True, and a doorstopper, The Book of Prefaces.
In 2003 when The Ends of Our Tethers came out, Canongate UK was in the midst of rearranging its US set up. I queried on US rights but they eventually decided to distribute their own titles here so there was no Gray title on our 2003 or 4 list. Dum de dum. A few years pass. [Insert montage of Small Beer titles, LCRW covers, chocolate bar wrappers, convention badges, tear-stained spreadsheets, etc.]
Then in 2007 Bloomsbury published Old Men In Love: John Tunnock’s Posthumous Papers. My copy was given to me by Kelly—signed by the man himself, amazing—and the copy I’ve been working from, so it may not be quite as pristine as it once was (cough, chocolate stains, cough).
I contacted Gray’s agent in November 2007 and in August 2008, on a trip to Scotland, Kelly and I visited Gray in his beautiful, art-stuffed flat in Glasgow. Things went well and contracts were generated and signed. Yay! Small Beer Press would publish the US edition of Old Men in Love. Inconceivable! Yet, apparently coming more true every day.
After the contracts we were soon in discussions with his agents about how we would put the book out. If you’ve ever seen one of Gray’s books—which he designs and illustrates—you’ll understand why this wasn’t a simple thing. We’ll put a section up on here and Scribd to show it off, it’s a strong style that works really well on the printed page. But oh the files, oi! Also, the UK paperback was being worked on so we would have corrections to include for our edition (not that many, really, but fascinating to see—we have them as scans of handwritten pages) although we could not use the UK paperback files as they are black ink and ours will be printed in blue and black. There was also one small section that Bloomsbury’s lawyers had decided might be actionable so Gray had taken it out but marked where it went with asterisks. On doing a little research it seemed prudent to follow Bloomsbury’s example (they have more lawyers, I suspect, than us) so we will have to leave it that way in our edition, oh well. (British politics in the 1970s was ugly, no surprise.) For the curious, the author reports that his Bulgarian publisher is putting out a translation that will include this part of the original text.
There won’t be an ebook of Old Men in Love, or at least not yet. Gray is taking a cautious approach to the format but we’re still talking with him as we think that DRM-free PDFs would work for this book (whereas html-based formats won’t) as they would hold his design and give something of the feel of the paper book.
Gray did some hilarious things in Old Men In Love: John Tunnock’s Posthumous Papers including adding his own piece of criticism at the end of the book (and another as a letter within) taking apart the construction of the novel and criticizing it as a fix-up of his own plays and some other work from the 1970s. As with his earlier novel Poor Things, there is a preface (maybe to be included in future editions of The Book of Prefaces?) by another writer, Lady Sara Sim-Jaeger, a distant cousin of the eponymous John Tunnock who, on receiving Tunnock’s diary and papers after his death commissions Gray to make something of them. The resulting novel brings together Tunnock’s diary from 2001-2007 (there’s a smidgeon of politics in there) and his memoir of being brought up by his two maiden aunts in Glasgow. Tunnock, a retired school teacher, is working on a book titled Who Paid for All This? which goes through various forms until eventually Tunnock decides it is to be made up of three strands: Periclean Athens, Medician Florence, and 19th century Bath, England.
All of these stories come together in Gray’s final edition into a sometimes hilarious, sometimes dark novel that will be beautifully printed in blue and black ink as the author intended it. What fun it all is! At the moment early copies have wung (surely the past tense of to wing isn’t winged?) their way to the trade reviewers and a few others: for everyone else, check it out in April. There’s nothing quite like it (not true, see Gray’s other novels!) and as ever we can’t wait to see what people think of it.
- One of our authors Karen Lord’s debut novel Redemption in Indigo makes a list of 20 SF books to look forward to. And they are right! (Although it is the first edition, not only the first US edition. Hey, but rights are available… ) Anyway, it’s great and great fun and wethinks you will enjoy it.
- SBP gets hauled out in a list of publishers reinventing publishing. Don’t know about that but it’s a list with some great people on it. (We all make that face when we pick up the mails as it is always the bills.)
-> Have you see Jeremy’s letter in Locus about getting to use a Richard Powers cover? (Ah, googlefound here) It is awesome and Eclipse 3 is on the the TBR list.
-> We will start an ebook store at some point and reinvent publishing. We will move from selling ideas on paper to just painted electrons on that gadgety new Apple tablet thing that we’re all going to get in spring.
- One of our authors (ha!) Alasdair Gray has designed a whisky bottle label—someone send us a bottle!
- We may be small beer but we are rarely Tinky Winky. Unlike banned by the beeb Enid Blyton. (Thanks Shana!)
- And the Rainbow Warrior sails into Edinburgh — go say hello!
- Pretty Monsters review.
- A.L. Kennedy writes about writing about sex.
- Various people write and talk about France being handed a win against Ireland and we worry that since now England and Ireland have lost to the magical handball will Scotland (and Wales) get the same treatment?
- Gwenda Bond does a great interview with Alan DeNiro.
- Where to get holiday cards.
- Prairie Lights has a wine bar! Want to go!