Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A Week in the Life of a Publisher

A week in the life of a publisher is more like ten days.

Where do I start? Let me look back, in anger, at the calendar – now then, yes, the last few days have been slightly hazy, so you'll forgive me if I just touch upon the main events thereof (is that correct English? I hope so – but then I write "under the influence", as one of my readers recently pointed out, so any slips can be forgiven).

Let's say, then, that my last week begins six days ago – a Wednesday, as I recall it. I had a very pleasant late lunch with Gary Pulsifer and Daniela De Groote of Arcadia. We went through some red wine, a few John Calder anecdotes and a long cahier des doléances éditoriales, emerging from the lunch, if not more perplexed, certainly none the wiser.

Then I went to Foyle's, where I was pleased to see there were still many unsold copies of Blair's book, which had been released that day and was obviously not flying off the shelves – and four copies of my own book (!). I had coffee with Rosie Alison and proudly showed her my latest book acquisition, Tim Parks's Teach Us to Be Still. Her many fans will be delighted to hear that she is working on a new novel, which – she assures – will outshine The Very Thought of You. Music for my ears – I cannot deny that I am lighting up a candle every evening in our local Catholic church.

Then I rushed to a peculiar game of pool: Editors vs Writers. The editors were myself and our valiant classics editor Christian Müller; the writers were the formidable pool players Sean Ashton and Tom McCarthy. We were beaten 6:1 – it was horrible. Our only victory was by default when Sean accidentally potted the black ball. And then – I am not saying this through spite or envy – but everything seems to be going Tom's way these days, from winning at pool to being shortlisted for the Booker . . .

The following day, Friday – no, hang on a sec – Thursday, after a long day at work I went out with Jonathan and Alison of CPI and Louise of Continuum – first to Vallandry in Great Portland Street and then to see a production of Into the Woods at the Regent's Park theatre.

Friday was the day when Elisabetta and the kids came back from Italy. There were two massive accidents on the M25, one clockwise and the other one anticlockwise, and somehow I managed to sneak in and out without too much trouble and get home safely after a short stop at Franco Manca.

Saturday and Sunday were spent reading, writing, watching films, doing a 250-piece jigsaw puzzle with the kids, enjoying our newly decorated flat and going out with our friends.

Monday was when we totally overhauled and redesigned our office and spent one whole day moving stuff in, out and around, knocking down walls, fitting shelves, throwing away books and ending up as tired as the poor Chilean miners.

Today was a quiet day, but in the evening Christian and I went to the Italian Institute for an event on Dante's Rime. What was amazing was not so much Prof. Malato's discourse (speech or talk won't do) or the actress's reading of Dante's poems in Italian and English, accompanied by a young woman playing Baroque music on a theorbo, but the after-event, when we met a boy who'd played Dante's Inferno on PS3 and told us, one by one, all the tricks to get through to "riveder le stelle". I hope I can convince Christian to elaborate on this, and I definitely want to check out this game.

From a strictly professional point of view, we have sent five books to the printer over the past few days, received our latest catalogues (which will be mailed out soon) and seen reviews of Alberto Manguel's All Men Are Liars in The Times and of Lindsay Clarke's The Water Theatre in the Financial Times.

So that's all I think. And if you wonder what I am up to when you don't hear from me on this blog – please keep wondering.


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