Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Marvellous Melville House. . .

As I'm making my sales calls this wintry month selling the Summer 2011 lists while Fall 2011 is hitting my desk with a large thump,  the stacks of paper and catalogues and drop-ins can be overwhelming.  But one of the independent presses that I'm really proud to represent, just keeps infusing this cynical sales rep with electric (and ecclectic) jolts of amazing creative energy, passion and originality that completely recharges me.  This is THE press to watch in 2011 - they have one of the most incredible lists coming, starting with their new Neversink Library that, like NYRB Classics, is devoted to bringing forgotten classics back into print and commissioning new translations of some terrific international fiction.  I can feel a whole new reading challenge coming on. And don't the covers look amazing?

Here's the Neversink Library's inaugural list:

After Midnight by Irmgard Keun, translated by Anthea Bell.  I'm a huge fan of this author who was writing in Germany in the 1930s.  I've read and can wholly recommend two of her other novels - The Artificial Silk Girl and Child of All Nations and if you love Hans Fallada, you simply must read her. Look for a major Keun revival this year.

The Train by Georges Simenon, translated by Robert Baldick.  I've recently been reading both Maigret novels and his dark and compelling romans dur.  I can't wait to read this thriller about a man escaping from the Nazis who meets a mysterious woman on the train.

The Eternal Philistine by Ödön von Horváth, translated by John G. Wagner.  Another neglected work written during the Weimar years, described as "a brutally funny look at the human comedy on the eve of Europe's descent into Fascism".  .

The Late Lord Byron by Doris Langley Moore.  Out of print for decades, this biography of bad boy Byron focuses on the immediate aftermath of his life using a lot of literary detective work.

Coming in the fall will be The President by Georges Simenon, Faithful Ruslan by Georgi Vladimov, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by W.H. Davies, and The War with the Newts by Karel Capek.

Then there's Melville's International Crime series.  Oh, my god - the covers of these books are incredible.  Check them out here at Caustic Cover Critic and then read their interview with Melville's talented new art director, Christopher King, here.  I'm working my way through them - love the new series by Jakob Arjouni, featuring Turkish wise-crack private eye Kemal Kayankaya and the Frankfurt underworld.  Kismet is the one to start with and one of my spring Dewey picks, along with the fun and sinister Craigslist Murders by Brenda Cullerton.

Last but not least, they are doing something this summer that I'm still chuckling about - it's an absolutely brilliant idea.  For most publishers (and authors, I suspect), it's a nightmare when two books come out in the same season with the same title.  Well, Melville has embraced this challenge and this summer are publishing, not one, not two, but FIVE books in their Art of the Novella series, all by different authors, all titled The Duel.  Dueling Duels.  I love it!

Here's the list.  Let the battle of the books begin.  I'm getting up at dawn on five summer days and reading them all.

The Duel by Giacomo Casanova, translated by James Marcus
The Duel by Anton Chekhov, translated by Magarita Shalina
The Duel by Joseph Conrad
The Duel by Heinrich Von Kleist, translated by Annie Janusch
The Duel by Aleksandr Kuprin, translated by Joshua Billings

And then there's The Lake, the new novel by the awesome Banana Yoshimoto and Conversations with Mr. Prain by Joan Taylor, which was brought back into print because of indy bookseller demands, and right now I'm giggling my way though Spurious by Lars Iyer.  So much great reading ahead . . .


Frances said...

Yes, yes, yes! Justed posted on the upcoming Duel release day and am equally excited about the Neversink titles with the great design elements. Can't wait to hold these in my hands from the folks at MH who I like to refer to as clever cheeky monkeys.

Maylin said...

One just never knows what they'll come up with next! I think I'm going to get in right at the beginning and try and read the Neversinks as they get published.

kevinfromcanada said...

Okay, maylin, you have got me intrigued with The Duel project. A couple of questions:

1. Is there a firmer release date?
2. Are they all being released at the same time?
3. I know I can pre-order from the publisher through the U.S. -- is there a way to pre-order all five through Canadian sources?


Maylin said...

It's such a fun idea, isn't it? I'm hoping a lot of blogs will champion one or the other and duel it out. It would be fun to co-ordinate a group read of all five and see which one readers loved the most.

To answer your questions:

Duel Date is August 16th, 2011 - all five are being pubbed on the same day. Canadian price will be $11.00 for each. A couple of options for pre-ordering - I vaguely recall you are based in Calgary? If so, there's an excellent new independent downtown called Shelf Life Books that carries a lot of Melville House titles - I'm sure they'd pre-order the set for you. If you wanted to do it online there's the usual suspects, Indigo, amazon or you can even do it at the Random House Canada site at www.randomhouse.ca

Because there are so many "Duels" out there, it might be helpful to have the isbns handy. Here they are:
Conrad's Duel 9781935554516
Casanova's Duel 9781935554493
Chekhov's Duel 9781935554509
Von Kleist's Duel 9781935554530
Kuprin's Duel 9781935554523

I look forward to reading what you make of them all.