This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog. I highly recommend visiting the official blog for interesting posts from Richard Nash, Alex Hippisley-Cox, and Arun Wolf
I really do love book fair and publishing people and the business of publishing and the discovery of new artists. I love drinking too much, knowing that when I sip my first beer at a 5 o’clock Australian reception that I’ll be talking, mingling, and imbibing for the next eleven or so hours. I love that despite all this—which must seem a bit decadent to outsiders—that business gets done. That I can find a Flemish author with echos of Kafka, Beckett, and Pinter. (I’m keeping this book secret for the moment . . . If you want to find out who the next hot Flemish author will be, you’ll have to read my posts tomorrow . . .) That I can learn about Bragi Olafsson’s latest novel. That I can meet a Polish editor who’s really excited about some of our translations.
Juergen Boos is absolutely right: Frankfurt is a platform. A place where everyone can come together to meet, friend each other (like in the old-school, non-Facebook sense), exchange info, do business. I’m sure this happens in other industries as well, but there’s something about a gather of tens of thousands of literary folk that makes this Fair hum with some sort of cultural import. We will all shape the future of publishing and part of that future is being designed over the course of this week.
We talked a lot about eBooks. Maybe too much—like Erin Cox said in her Publishing Perspectives editorial we don’t want to lose focus on our real business: “creating content for the reader, not content for the technology.” We talked about rights deals that did and didn’t get done. We talked about the “monkey sex” book and the graphic novel Michael Jackson “wrote.” We talked about Zombies. (We did a lot of talking about Zombies.) But most of all, we talked.
I’ve heard lots of people mention how the Frankfurt Book Fair is like a family reunion. (Caveat: they’re talking about one of those pot-o-gold rare fun family reunions.) And it sort of is. It’s hard (for me) to not get a bit emotional about the end of the fair. These are my people; this is what I love. So forgive my over-the-top sentimentality, but I’m going to miss this, and will be waiting patiently for next year, when I can come back, reconnect, tell new stories, have more drinks, and find more books. See you next year—
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .
Like any good potboiler worth its salt, Fuminori Nakamura’s The Gun wastes no time setting up its premise: “Last night, I found a gun. Or you could say I stole it, I’m not really sure. I’ve never seen something so. . .
Heiner Resseck, the protagonist in Monika Held’s thought-provoking, first novel, This Place Holds No Fear, intentionally re-lives his past every hour of every day. His memories are his treasures, more dear than the present or future. What wonderful past eclipses. . .
If you’ve ever worked in a corporate office, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “Perception is reality.” To Björn, the office worker who narrates Jonas Karlsson’s novel The Room, the reality is simple: there’s a door near the bathroom that leads. . .
I recently listened to Three Percent Podcast #99, which had guest speaker Julia Berner-Tobin from Feminist Press. In addition to the usual amusement of finally hearing both sides of the podcast (normally I just hear parts of Chad’s side. . .
Let’s not deceive ourselves, man is nothing very special. In fact, there are so many of us that our governments don’t know what to do with us at all. Six billion humans on the planet and only six or seven. . .
“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“And this—what. . .
Many authors are compared to Roberto Bolaño. However, very few authors have the privilege of having a Roberto Bolaño quote on the cover of their work; and at that, one which states, “Good readers will find something that can be. . .
In Josep Maria de Sagarra’s Private Life, a man harangues his friend about literature while walking through Barcelona at night:
When a novel states a fact that ties into another fact and another and another, as the chain goes on. . .
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .