The Lost Dumas

24 09 2007

In a former life, I was a literary agent. Yes indeed! A junior literary agent, that is, much as a gumshoe in sneakers is a junior sleuth. Mussed hair and single untucked shirttail, with a casual callow air, I arrived always late and breathless to editor lunches, comps and samples spilling from beneath my arm as might a nerdy middle schooler’s notebooks from his grasp. In fact, I never got very far along the path to enlightened literary property representation, which may be why it sometimes seems to me, as the wheel of career karma turns, that I’m starting out in my new incarnation of freelance translator lower on the gainful employment ladder than before. I have sins to atone, and must with good deeds earn from the gods the benefits and pension contributions granted that higher life form, the full-fledged adult. Of my agent stint, I’ve this to say: it was the best office job I ever had. Four cozy rooms full of books, a magisterial view of Union Square, and my boss, a human being of unsurpassed kindness.

One of the few good things I did (who says they all come back to haunt you?) was pair up indie publisher Pegasus Books and Alexandre Dumas père’s unearthed missing novel, painstakingly assembled over fifteen years by scholar Claude Schopp from segments serialized in papers of the era. Publisher Claiborne Hancock has gone all out for this baby.

And it just came out.

The Last Cavalier, from Pegasus Books Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m a Fella!

13 09 2007

The American Literary Translators Association, which I joined this summer, a whole year after first being urged to do so by the wise and lovely Susan Harris, has seen fit to bestow on me a Travel Fellowship for its 30th anniversary conference this November in Dallas. I’ll even be giving a short reading. I’m stoked!! To say the very least. Read the rest of this entry »





Cantanker

11 09 2007

I have a problem with this: the default critique these days for books and albums of a somber mood seems to be to imply that they reference or obliquely address a post 9/11 world. The ashes from that day seem to pall every important new work of art. “Clearly a reference to” is a nightstick critics wield with a certain swagger. Of course, as usual when I let myself topple into tirade, I have no example to point to or truck out in my defense except a certain impression of surfeit that must be the result of accumulated instances, right? America suddenly has a copyright on disaster; let no one else’s grief infringe thereon. Of course our Promised Land, ’tis of thee, has always taken woe quite personally, or do I mean myopically and hubristically? Even our disasters, supersized, are bigger than your disasters, and ditto with our suffering, or so the t-shirts for sale in the French Quarter would have had me believe when I was there in November ’05 as a volunteer. Walls plastered with wreaths and photos of missing loved ones existed elsewhere before Ground Zero and Union Square—notably, the 1999 Taiwan quake—though we see them only as 9/11 references. Read the rest of this entry »