Tuesday, July 31, 2007

An extract from The Snakeskin :

'Artistic creativity has always manifested itself in me as a sort of hunger. I have observed this need in myself with some gratification, but I have never in all my conscious life asked why this hunger should arise and demand to be satisfied. In the last few years, as it has begun to ease off, and been transformed into something else, I have begun to feel it important to try to establish the reason for my ‘artistic activity’… it was fairly obvious that the cinema should be my chosen means of expression. I made myself understood in a language that by-passed words, which I lacked; music, which I have never mastered; and painting, which left me unmoved. Suddenly, I had the possibility of corresponding with the world around me in a language that is literally spoken from soul to soul, in terms that avoid control by the intellect in a manner almost voluptuous. I threw myself into my medium with all the dammed up hunger of my childhood and for twenty years, in a sort of rage, I have communicated dreams, sensual experiences, fantasies, outbursts of madness, neuroses, the convulsions of faith and outright lies…
By and large art is free, shameless, irresponsible and the movement is intense, almost feverish; it resembles, it seems to me, a snakeskin full of ants. The snake itself is long since dead, eaten out from within, deprived of its poison; but the skin moves, filled with busy life.
If I now observe that I happen to be one of these ants, then I must ask myself whether there is any reason to pursue the activity further. The answer is yes…I feel like a prisoner who has served a long sentence and suddenly tumbled out into the booming, howling snorting world outside. I am seized by intractable curiosity. I note, I observe, I have my eyes with me, everything is unreal, fantastic, frightening or ridiculous. I capture a flying particle of dust, perhaps it’s a film – and of what importance will that be: none whatsoever, but I myself find it interesting so it’s a film. I revolve with the objects I have captured for myself and am cheerfully or melancholically occupied. I elbow my way in with the other ants, we do a colossal job. The snakeskin moves.
This and this only is my truth. I don’t ask that it should be true for anyone else and, as comfort for eternity, it is naturally on the slim side. As a basis for artistic activity during the next few years it is entirely adequate, at least for me.
To be an artist for one’s own sake is not always very agreeable. But it has one outstanding advantage: the artist is on an equal footing with every other creature who also exists solely for his own sake. Taken together, we are probably a fairly large brotherhood who exist in this way in selfish fellowship on the warm, dirty earth, under a cols and empty sky.' – Ingmar Bergman, 1965

Age of Uncertainty on Bergman
Guardian Obit
Indpendent Obit
Telegraph Obit
Times Obit
Baroque in Hackney

Antonioni too?


Monday, July 30, 2007

Sad news: Ingmar Bergman died this morning, aged 89 years old.

One of the most famous and respected of directors and artists, it is a great honour to have him on the Marion Boyars list. I expect that there will be many obituaries in the next few days and is already by strange cooincidence a re-release of the Seventh Seal in cinemas in the UK running at the moment.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll find time to post an extract from his autobiographical essay The Snakeskin.

I'm afraid that I came across Bergman by the most obvious of routes: At around nine or ten years old the image of Death playing chess with the knight took firm hold of my imagination. Having just started playing chess myself I unfortunately missed all suggestion of allegory and was intrigued by the ticklish question of whether Death would be any good at chess and whether or not, if I worked very hard, I might be able to beat Him thus securing a rather geekish form of immortality. The only positive outcome from these angelsonpin type musings was that as I got older I was motivated to seek out Bergman's films – a great boon however it may have come about.

but enough from me - there's a lovely post from the Spurious blog and I'll keep up the links to all that's worth reading over the next few days.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Fridays are always exciting - Independent books review section and The Bookseller all in the same morning! And today is one of those rare times when that excitement is justified and not just because I get to read them whilst listening to good music (the radio has just played Jefferson Airplane, the Breeders and Prodigy all in a row. Kit's alone in the office. ) –

There is a marvelous profile of Elif Shafak in the Independent by Boyd Tonkin.


in The Bookseller there is not only an article all about our book blog book but also a Great Big Marion Boyars advert, an indulgence which we very rarely allow ourselves. I'm absolutely fascinated to see how much effect or otherwise it has. Presumably the nice man who sold us the space and then had to put up with many frantic last minute emails is as well.

and back to the new catalogue . . .

P.S. I've just seen that there's a third mention of MB in The Bookseller. The headline reads 'Marion Boyars gets erotic with Chinese concubine'.
Which conjures up a far more exciting image of the office than the reality, which is just me in an old T-shirt playing with Indesign.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

'Muhammed Ali is not the only one who can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.' – a slightly bizarre quote from The Leed's Guide's review of The Willow Tree by Hubert Selby Jr . They have made it their Book of the Fortnight, beating, rather satisfyingly from our point of view, books from much larger publishers. I can't wait to get stuck in to Hubert Selby.

There was also a fascinating article by Maureen Freely in the Guardian yesterday on Turkey. It seems pretty brave to me that she left her email address for responses. Apparently there were plenty.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Last week ended with a decent little review in the Independent for More Than Eyes Can See . And on Saturday there was a brief mention of Enlightenment by Maureen Freely in The Times during an article celebrating the fact that spies are still everywhere.

Friday was also a day of meeting reps - we're represented by Turnaround who have a fine list of publishers on their books. Thus one turns up at their office and is led into a room with an oval shaped table around which reps from all across the country sit. I'm not sure whether it was deliberate or not, they had arranged themselves around the table in such a way as to mirror the geographical locations that they represent - thus Scotland, or 'Bob' as he'd most likely prefer to be known, was furthest away with the North and Midlands on either side, East Anglia to their right and the two London reps closest. Perhaps they do this so that once we've gone they can get out a big map of Britain and make battle plans. One can but dream. Once settled and introduced you then have thirty minutes to explain why you think they should give extra special attention to your list, just another example of how difficult it is to describe good books in a succinct but adequate manner. One can but hope that we got our message across, I suppose that the proof will be in the bookshops across the country in a month or so. The lack of control is infuriating.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Another week, another party.

This time, it was the English PEN summer party in a lovely if slightly eccentric house in Kensington. Our congratulations go to Brian Thompson who won the PEN/Ackerman prize, thanks go to English PEN for organizing a great evening and especially to Lisa Appignanesi for saying that I looked 'hip'.

But the real reason for this post is to lay down some guidelines my future posting. My friend Mark at Readysteadybook gently chastised me in my old incarnation for using the blog merely as a marketing tool - everything was 'exciting', 'fantastic' and led to buying some sort of book. He was absolutely righ and my response is twofold. Firstly, it's my job. I like being able to pay the rent. Secondly though, it was because I genuinely did find everything 'exciting' and 'fantastic'. We're in independent publishing for chrissakes, we don't do it for the money. Most of my non publishing friends already earn significantly more than me and in five years time the gap will be exponentially greater. However, I still feel more privileged than most of them for the mere fact that I have the opportunity to get excited in my job.

Thus at Marion Boyars it'll be more of the same, almost. The fact that everything is new to me here gives an opportunity to write about the publishing house and especially its list as I discover it myself - I've not read most of the books that we publish but very much plan to and I'd like the opportunity to share what I think about this reading and, indeed, what I think about working here as openly and honestly as I can. If it ends up sounding like marketingspeak by all means let me know.

So: The most exciting and fantastic thing I did today was begin going through The Bookaholic's Guide to Book Bloggers . It's a whole lotta fun. (American passport, I can say stuff like that) I really think that Cathy and Rebecca are coming up with a unique document. It reads more like travel writing than anything else, replete with exciting characters and insights over wider themes. Over the next couple of weeks or so I expect that all kinds of different bloggers will receive permissions requests. I urge them to accept because they'll be part of something very worthwhile and strangely of the moment, one of those books that probably couldn't be written last year and shouldn't in the next and for that very reason will come to be read ten and twenty years from now. (does that make sense? Very F&Eish ed.)

I'm also reading The Devil in the Flesh , but more on that another time, it's late.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A new Marion Boyars blogger:

Good evening, I am the newly arrived Kit Maude and this is what I look like when standing behind stacks of books. As I often am.

I'm now at the end of my second week at Marion Boyars and getting a little more confident about things. Well, confident enough to enter the blogosphere.
One of the first differences from the old place is that here the boss apparently takes us out at least once a week to some event or other.
Firstly it was the launch do for More Than Eyes Can See , by Rhidian Brook at the Salvation Army headquarters . As you might imagine, 'friends and family' means something rather more to the Salvation Army than to the rest of us and Rhidian's guests numbered in the hundreds. Some photos:

Rhidian performing one of the many signings that he would be asked to do that evening. I have never seen people buy books in handfuls before.

Halos were provided to some lucky guests . . .

But not, unfortunately, to Rhidian.

Next there was an event involving Elif Shafak and Maureen Freely who came to speak at the Royal Festival Hall at an event organized by Index on Censorship (Phew, all these links are tiring) . Topics ranged from geopolitical (The place of Turkey in the world today, the clash of cultures between Islam and the West) to the semantical (the many different meanings of the word 'veil') but at all times the room was fascinated and energized by the many debates touched on during the event.