The opening talk at 6.30 p.m. of the BookBlast® 10×10 tour, a nationwide celebration of independent publishing, features Eric Lane, founder of Dedalus Books, in conversation with Andrew Crumey and Margaret Jull Costa, and has as its theme Independence: A Permanent Revolution @gowerst_books
Glasgow-born award-winning novelist, Andrew Crumey, lives in Newcastle and has had eight novels published by Dedalus. He has a PhD in theoretical physics and was literary editor of Scotland on Sunday for six years.
Book Extract:The Great Chain of Unbeing, a novel masquerading as a short story collection. Meet the author in person on Tues 11 Sept. @gowerst_books
“Arriving at Moscow airport, Roy Jones passed through the customs channel and emerged into the public concourse to see a row of impoverished-looking taxi drivers, mournfully waiting for their pre-booked customers.
Russia, his wife had warned him, is a wild and unruly place. The taxi drivers are in some instances muggers in disguise. She’d seen it on a TV documentary. They lure Westerners into their cars, drive them to remote and shabby neighbourhoods, then allow their passengers to escape with their lives only if they first hand over their every valuable. Even their Berghaus fleeces.
But among the drivers Roy Jones saw as he emerged stood one, sallow-faced in a fur hat and battered black leather jacket, bearing a sign saying Mr Jones. How reassuring. Though surely the organisers of the Thirteenth International Congress of Tribology should have remembered that Roy Jones was Doctor, not Mister.
Roy Jones felt brave enough to place himself in the passenger seat, holding his briefcase, while the driver casually fitted the larger suitcase into the boot. Roy Jones had just about figured out the seat belt when the driver got in beside him and started the car. “Do you know where you’re going?” Roy Jones asked. The driver gave a thin smile. “Yes. Do you?” Roy Jones didn’t know the name of the hotel. The conference organiser had e-mailed it to him last week, but it was a funny Russian word that meant nothing to him: a possible hotel, nothing more. Now the driver was taking him there.
Roy Jones watched the unfolding succession of slab-like buildings and strangely quiet roads, punctuated by advertising hoardings whose enthusiasm was almost touching in its futility. The sky was grey and overcast; the air was filled with swirling powder-snow, whipped by the slipstreams of the ancient, fuming lorries they overtook.”
Margaret Jull Costa OBE is a British translator of Portuguese-and-Spanish-language fiction and poetry, including the works of Eça de Queiroz, Fernando Pessoa, Javier Marías, Bernardo Atxaga, José Régio and Nobel Prize winner José Saramago.
“Eça de Quieroz (1845-1900) is the Portuguese classic of the nineteenth century – not an Iberian Balzac like Galdos, but, rather, a moistened Stendhal, altogether more tender and, despite his reformist opinions, without theories. He as a diplomat, something of a dandy and a gourmet, whose career took him abroad to France, Britain, the Near East, Cuba and the United States, and he was responsive to the intellectual forces that were bringing the European novel to the height of its powers. The temptations of a light and elegant cosmopolitanism must have been strong, for he is above all a novelist of wit and style, and he was amused by the banalities of diplomatic conversation. His excellent prose glides through real experience and private dream in a manner that is leading on toward the achievement of Proust.” V. S. Pritchett
Book Extract: Cousin Bazilio. Meet the translator in person on Tues 11 Sept. @gowerst_books
Adultery, hypocrisy and blackmail in 19th century affluent, middle-class Lisbon, starring a gorgeous bored young wife. Cousin Bazilio belongs on the same shelf as Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina.
“She’s not the problem. The problem is the neighbours.”
They sat in silence for a moment. The altercation in the billiards room was growing louder.
“But,” Juliao began, as if emerging from a long period of reflection, “what’s this about the neighbours? What have they got to do with it?”
“They see him going into the house. They see the carriage, it provokes a great uproar in the street. They’re already talking about it. They’ve even been to Tia Joana with their gossip. I met Neto a few days ago and he had noticed too. Cunha as well. And the man who owns the junk shop downstairs doesn’t miss a thing: there are some very vicious tongues about. Only a matter of days ago, I happened to be passing when this cousin of hers got out of his carriage and went into the house, and there were immediate confabulations in the street and inquisitive glances up at the window, it was terrible! He goes there every day. They know Jorge is away in the Alentejo. This cousin stays there for two or three hours at a time. It’s very serious, very serious indeed.”
“She’s a fool to carry on like that!”
“She probably doesn’t see the wrong in it.”
Juliao shrugged doubtfully.
The baize door to the billiards room opened, and a herculean man with a black moustache and a very red face came bursting into the cafe, then stopped and, holding the door open, shouted back to those inside:
“Just think yourself lucky I’m not a fighting man!”
A deep voice from the billiards room responded with an obscene remark. The herculean man furiously slammed the door, and strode, apoplectic, through the cafe, breathing hard; a gaunt young man, wearing a winter jacket and white trousers, minced after him.
Book Extract: The Crime of Father Amaro. Meet the translator in person on Tues 11 Sept. @gowerst_books
When the newly arrived priest seduces young Amelia in the confessional and impregnates her, small-town hypocrisy, bigotry and cruelty in all their ugliness are exposed.
“Father Amaro returned home, terrified. ‘”Now what? Now what?” he kept saying as he leaned, with shrinking heart, at the window.
He would have to leave Sao Joaneira’s house at once. He could not continue there in that state of easy familiarity, not now that he had behaved so boldly with Amelia.
She had not seemed particularly outraged, merely stunned; she had perhaps felt constrained by respect for the clergy, by politeness towards a guest, by consideration for Canon Dias’ friend. But she might tell her mother or the clerk . . . And the scandal that would ensue! He could already see the precentor crossing his legs and looking at him hard – the pose he always adopted when he was about to reprimand someone – then telling him gravely: “It is precisely this kind of irregularity that brings dishonour on the priesthood. I would expect no less from a satyr on Mount Olympus!” They might exile him once more to the mountains. What would the Condesa de Ribamar say?
And if he did continue living in the same house as her, the constant presence of those dark eyes, of the warm smile that dimpled her chin, the curve of her breasts. . . then his secretly growing passion, constantly provoked, driven deep inside him, would send him mad, and he might “do something foolish”.
He decided then to speak to Canon Dias: his naturally weak character always required the sustenance of someone else’s reasoning and experience, and the ecclesiastical discipline was so ingrained in him that he usually consulted the Canon, judging him more intelligent simply because he was his superior in the hierarchy, for Amaro still had the dependent nature of a seminarian. Besides, if he wanted to live somewhere alone, he would need Canon Dias’ help to find a house and a maid, for the Canon knew Leiria as well as if he had built it himself.”
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