Monday, March 31, 2008

plugs and bilingualism

Lee Rourke, whose book Everyday is published by Social Disease, has written very nice things about us on the Scarecrow blog. Which was a very nice thing to start the week with, I can only second his recommendation of Blue of Noon.

Which brings me nicely from one translation from the French to another: we are trying something new this spring. Banquet of Lies will be published in a bilingual edition, with the French alongside the English. It forms a part of our ongoing attempt to bring translation, and the issues that surround it, to the fore. We have actually done this before; Paris by Julian Green is bilingual and has done very well for us over the years. It got us to thinking: if we have a very good French text and a very good translation (by Frank Wynne) why not do it again? It's a great book to do this with; there's lots in the text that wasn't particularly easy to put into English and so many places where Frank has made the choices that are so important to the translator's art. It's been a fascinating book to work on in this way, I'm agog to see how it gets received.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On Onix and Selby

We have recently come across an exciting* new way to file and present our book information. It's called Onix and involves tags. We are being helped by a very nice man named Robin, who has been extremely patient with me as I keep sending him incomplete files along with the book admin equivalent of 'are we there yet?' messages.

Unfortunately, for a company that's been around a little while, with something of a back list, updating every single piece of info about every single book into a sophisticated new system is not a small task. But on the other hand, it does mean that one gets to delve into the backlist, which usually proves fruitful. Today was the turn of Hubert Selby to get Onixed, which turned up the following useful quotes:

From The Demon:

"There is only one source of energy for my
hate," he said, "and that's me. And there's only one ultimate destination
for my hate and that's me." which I shall use when stuck on overcrowded tube, or blocked on an escalator trying to get to said overcrowded tube.

From an excellent piece last year by Tony O'Neill:

A book that can divide people along such extremes is usually doing something right. While not comfort reading, The Room is essential reading, and a piece of art that will leave an impression on your soul. As one Amazon reviewer succinctly put it: "Literature is not meant to be safe or easy. Go buy a copy of VC Andrews if that's what you're looking for."

which last bit I shall use for finding out who VC Andrews is/was

and from a Telegraph obit by Peter McRae:

His next book, Requiem for a Dream (1978),
contained Selby's favourite opening line: "Harry locked his mother in a

which I shall use for proving in conversation that Selby had a wonderful sense of humour.


*well... perhaps not for everybody

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Desks and Stockhausen

It's been a while since I blogged, much has been going on. Two, almost three books off to press, a translation seminar, books coming in which then have to be mailed out... there are times when it seems life is little more than frames on computer screens and the imaginative use of cardboard boxes (we have recently developed a new, environmentally friendly way of sending out review copies).

Catching up:

Artforum have done an excellent tribute to Karlheinz Stockhausen

Mark Thwaite has also reviewed Stockhausen on Music. Both featuring Robin Maconie prominently.

I went to a translation seminar organized by the British and Arts Councils and many others, the first time anyone has thought to get a group of publishers and translators in a room to discuss how to edit translated manuscripts. Being big on translators we think it's a very good idea, and hope more similar events happen in the future.

With reference to earlier posts, it's a blessing that a photo of my desk was not posted for all to see. It's a disgrace and has been, wherever I have had one, for the last twenty years or so. These fantastic roomy ones just seem to give me more opportunity to make piles, creating a minature paper Gormenghast.

It was also nice of Catheryn to make clear that 'twas not me who spent the mid eighties being sold by Olivetti. My name, usually so pleasantly isolated, has been popping up everywhere recently, twice at my old employ: here and here and even in the crime pages. I'm just waiting for the London Book Fair passes to arrive, confusing my gender as usual...


Friday, March 14, 2008

A while back, Peter Stothard of the TLS wrote on his blog that we had the apostrophe in the wrong place for our Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs.

Although I replied on his blog that I thought we were right, I have had considerable self doubt on this matter of apostrophe's ever since. However, we just had our reminder to update our entry for a well known guide book to the publishing industry - and it is called (have you guessed?)

Writers' and Artists' Yearbook

So now I am pretty sure I was right.



Monday, March 10, 2008


I've wanted to blog about our desks for ages - finding the time is difficult. They came from Walker Books circa 1985. Walker Books was growing wealthy, and it was time to chuck out the Islington junk shop desks which Sebastian had found, and replace them with red metal legged Magpie designer tables, and a colour themed environment suitable for creating children's books in. As they were about to hit the skip, I said that Marion Boyars Publishers had just moved from Soho to Putney, and had nothing. My then boyfriend who worked for Olivetti, selling 'kit' (computer kit, not the Kit who valiantly works here now) borrowed a lorry from Olivetti and the desks all made the journey across town. They are still serving us well, with leather inlay table tops, interesting drawers (some of which are nothing but wood frames with no base).

We wouldn't change them for the world. And. in case you wanted to know, in the middle of the day our desks are always untidy. We're too busy to keep them pristine, but as they are huge, we can sprawl with ease.