Wednesday, 28 May 2008

I cut my finger

Lowest number of posts per month: my hours are filled. Today I found myself talking with – by email, phone or on Skype – an editor in the US, a rights manager in Paris, another one in Germany, another one at a university press in the US, two agents in London, two translators, an author and an accountant; and briefing the man who’s doing the new CBe website for next month; and designing and typesetting a screenplay. And postponing yet again the regular freelance hackwork I rely on for an income. This was supposed to be a hobby, not a job. There are warning signs: fewer books being read; and cutting myself on the lid of a tin of coconut milk when I was hurrying to make a Thai curry for supper.

Why? I mean, beyond enjoyment, which it still is, because it’s new and the people I do this conversing with are nice. This, for one thing: Michael Hofmann’s translation of his father’s last novel, Lichtenberg & The Little Flower Girl, which CBe will be publishing in the UK in the autumn. ‘Europe’s belated answer to Lolita’ – Gabriel Josipovici, TLS (International Books of the Year 2004). ‘Probably the zaniest, gloomiest, and funniest thing you’ve read in a long time, if not ever’ – MH, in the Afterword. It came out in the US in 2004; I can only assume that other UK publishers have been busy on the phone for the past four years talking to their accountants and website designers.

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