Monday, 25 July 2011


The other day I was asked to sign a copy of my BESTSELLER, but I messed it up: I'm retarded these days when it comes to writing long-hand. So I crossed out my mistake, then picked up a new copy (I have many) and inscribed it to my admirer. I didn't know what to do with the old copy. I thought I could give it out for charity. Then I thought I could keep it in case an Indian or Swedish blogger asked for a reading copy. In the end, I tore the title page out and a few seconds later, unhappy, frustrated, consigned that copy to the bin.

Hours later the cleaner came in, when I was still in the office (not a rare occurrence). I was on the phone and I saw she hesitated before offloading the bin's contents into the rubbish bag. She took out this gold-foiled book and started to look at it. Fired by a new generosity, I mouthed: "Go on, you can have it, you can take it." The cleaner looked at me and put it in one of the large pockets of her apron, then when I hang up she said: "I'm looking for management books. Management."

I told the story in the office and the comment was: "This is packed with metaphor".

* * *

Yesterday I was sent a submission by one of the greatest writers of the twentieth-century, introduced by one of the best greatest great writers of the twentieth century. So I printed twenty pages, as I usually do when I get this kind of proposal, and took it home to read. I uncorked a bottle of red to be in a good mood and started to leaf through. The first twenty pages after the prelims were blank and they just said: "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction", "Introduction". I guess I'll have to print a few more pages before being able to make an offer.

* * *

A wonderful half-day at work, where I had the privilege of editing Swift's Battle of the Books. What a wonderful little book it is – so funny, so relevant. If you have not read it, please grab a copy once we publish it in October (available September).

* * *

As a cherry on the cake, tonight I had a lovely dinner with John Calder. I had not seen him for a while, and he's still going strong. Today – he told me – he is exactly eighty-four years and a half, which may go some way to explaining (together with his upset stomach) why he limited himself to a Fernet Branca, half a bottle of Chianti and a cognac as an accompaniment to our dinner.

Great anecdotes about Nora Wydenbruck, her husband and their piano-playing au pair, Sonia Orwell, Robbe Grillet, Ionesco and a few other unnamable greats. A truly memorable night.


1 comment:

  1. the recipient of the signed copy of Bestseller I'm honoured to receive a freshly unruffled inscribed version. I'm sure you are asked more often than you let on! Pen in hand poised before I walked over to you.
    Our cleaner is missing out on a good read!
    Thanks AG


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