Interview, Proust’s Questionnaire | Gary Pulsifer, indie publisher

Gary Pulsifer has lived in the UK for 41 years. He has worked on both sides of the Atlantic – for Random House in New York and for a number of UK indies, including Writers & Readers, John Calder and Peter Owen. He founded the independent publishing house Arcadia books in 1996. Authors include: José Eduardo Agualusa (winner of the 2007 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize), Lisa Appignanesi, Michael Arditti, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Bonnie Greer, Shere Hite, Erica Jong, Dominique Manotti, Lucy Popescu, Luis Sepulveda, A. Sivanandan, Alex Wheatle.

Your favourite virtue?

Your favourite qualities in a man?
Machismo is always a bore in men, so a little less of that is always welcome.

Your favourite qualities in a woman?
Men and women are very similar in many ways (naturally). Women often seem more clear-headed and hard-working than their male counterparts.

For what faults do have you most tolerance?

Your chief characteristic?
Hard-working. A tolerance for fools is one, followed by a loyalty to them.

Your main fault?
Procrastination. Not being tough enough. (But once you’re out, you’re out for life.)
What you appreciate the most in your friends?
Loyalty. A sense of fun and joint enterprise.

Your favourite occupation?
I guess as a publisher. I would have to say reading, but I have always enjoyed travelling, gardening and interior design.

Your idea of happiness?
Contentment with a companion.

Your greatest misery?
Splitting up with said companion.

Your greatest unhappiness?
Coming down with cancer at 52.

If not yourself, who would you be?
I’m happy enough in my own skin.

Where would you like to live?
The book trade charity’s retreat in King’s Langley, Hertfordshire (where I do live) and in Greece

Your favourite place?

Your view of marriage?
An outmoded institution necessary for legal protections only. What were the 1970s all about?

Your view of children?
They grow on you.

Your favourite colour?

Your favourite flower?

Your favourite bird?

Your bedside reading?
Crime writer Paul Johnston

Your favourite prose author?
Proust, somewhat appropriately for this questionnaire.

Your favourite poet?

Your favourite heroes in fiction?
Count Balint Abady, hero of Miklos Banffy’s magisterial Transylvanian trilogy – crying out for a ‘Downton Abbey’ treatment.

Your favourite heroines in fiction?
Shena Mackay and Georgina Hammick always create a memorable cast of both female and male characters.

Your favourite painters?
Tom Hammick

Your favourite musicians?
Nina Simone, Eartha Kitt, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen.

Your heroes in real life?
Gore Vidal.

Your favourite heroines in real life?
Eva Joly, (Baroness) Helena Kennedy QC.

Which characters in history do you like the most?
Count Miklos Banffy, Hungarian politician and novelist.

What you dislike the most?
Senseless cruelty in all its forms.

Which characters in history do you dislike the most?
That cast of characters which made up the Third Reich.

The military events you admire the most?
I don’t, even if they are sometimes necessary.

The reform you admire the most?
The creation of the National Health Service.

The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with?
It might have been fun to be a gifted painter . . . but that was not on the cards.

Your views on writing?
Keep it going.

Your greatest achievement?
Founding the independent publishing house Arcadia Books. Retaining a strong friendship for 34 years with my ex-partner.

How you wish to die?
Pertinent question as death rapidly approaches. Without pain, I guess.

What is your present state of mind?

Your favourite motto?
Fuck it!

Gary Pulsifer died on 25 March, 2016. RIP.

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Published by

georgia DC

Bilingual editor, rewriter, French-to-English translator. Has written for 3am magazine, words without borders, The Independent, The Lady, Banipal, Prospect Magazine, Times Literary Supplement. Currently writes for The BookBlast Diary. Founder (1997) of London-based writing agency BookBlast.

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