Saturday 11 July 2020

Out of Lockdown: new titles

The two CBe September titles – the first English translation of Veilchenfeld by Gert Hofmann, published in Germany in 1986, and Will Eaves’s Broken Consort, subtitled Essays, reviews, and other writings – are now available for pre-order on the website.

‘People don’t read books of essays.’ Oh no? Along with ‘No one reads short stories’, that’s one of those pronouncements carved into the tablet of Publishing Wisdom that get muttered at high table as the port is passed round. Of course no one reads them if no one publishes them. On the other hand, aren’t we living through a new Golden Age of the Essay? I’m as suspicious of Golden Age declarations as of ‘People don’t read …’ statements. It’s not as if good essays haven’t been written continually, all the time. The Contents page of Will Eaves’s book – which is similar in length to the Contents page of many poetry collections: another genre subject to the ‘no one reads’/Golden Age, whore/Madonna split, as if readers can’t be trusted to take books on their merit, whatever their genre – can be viewed from the book’s page on the website.

‘People don’t read Gert Hofmann these days’ – there’s some truth in that, because most of the English translations of his work are now out of print. During lockdown I re-read his The Parable of the Blind and Balzac’s Horse and Other Stories and have decided that he is an even funnier, more lugubrious, more essential writer than I remembered. I’d love to be able to bring some of the vanished editions back into print with CBe.

I won’t be doing that, because CBe isn’t big enough: just two books last year, four this year (and another four, maybe even five, coming along next year). And it’s not as if I’m a wizard at selling them. Many of the titles are listed on Amazon as ‘out of stock’. Your best bet is still the website – where the Lockdown Subscription, 10 books + extras posted over 10 weeks for £65, is still available (and can include the new September titles, if you wish).

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