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Comment from the book world in May 2018

May 2018

'It's up to me to tell this or that story'

28 May 2018

'My greatest fear is of suddenly feeling that to devote so much of my life to writing is meaningless. It's a sensation that I've felt very often, and I'm afraid that I will again. I need a lot of determination, a stubborn, passionate adherence to the page, not to feel the urgency of other things to do, a more active way of spending my life. So yes, I'm fragile. It's all too easy for me to notice the other things and feel guilty. And so it's pride that I need, more than strength. While I'm writing, I have to believe that it's up to me to tell this or that story, and that it would be wrong to avoid it or not to complete it to the best of my abilities.'

Elena Ferrante, author of My Brilliant Friend and four other Neapolitan Novels in the Los Angeles Times


'Seventeen overseas trips in a year does not help continuity of concentration'

21 May 2018

‘Amid the avalanche of titles published each year, promoting a book now seems to demand almost as much work as writing it.

The competition is such that publishers offer chains of bookstores ‘special editions' with extra material. All have to be personally signed, with anything up to 5,000 specially printed title pages, ready to be tipped in. It is of course rather repetitive, a bit like doing lines at school.

This may sound a bit spoilt, especially when I know how incredibly lucky I have been, but life is not simple when it comes to promoting foreign translations as well as the British and American editions. For a start you need to banish any hope of working on a future book for at least half a year to nine months. It may be good for your stash of air miles, but some seventeen overseas trips in a year does not help continuity of concentration.

Based on the experience of previous books, I expect that once again I will be giving just about fifty lectures at literary festivals and conferences in different countries. Some other events will be ‘in-conversations', and a few more will be panels, but we all know that you sell fewer and fewer books, the more people there are on stage. Past form also indicates a fairly regular pattern of between 145 and 160 media interviews - press, radio and television. Email Q&As, most often from Spain and South America, take up a lot of time, but at least you are less likely to be misquoted.

Antony Beevor, author of just-published Arnhem - The Battle for the Bridges 1944, Stalingrad, The Second World War and many other distinguished military histories in Bookbrunch

'I will and must be published'

14 May 2018

'I think I am starving for publication: I love to get published; it maddens me not to get published. I feel at times like getting every publisher in the world by the scruff of the neck, forcing his jaws open, and cramming the Mss down his throat -- 'God-damn you, here it is - I will and must be published.

You know what it means - you're a writer and you understand it. It's not just 'the satisfaction of being published.' Great God! It's the satisfaction of getting it out, or having that, so far as you're concerned, gone through with it! That good or ill, for better or for worse, it's over, done with, finished, out of your life forever and that, come what may, you can at least, as far as this thing is concerned, get the merciful damned easement of oblivion and forgetfulness.'

Tom Wolfe, journalist extraordinaire and author of The Right Stuff, From Bauhaus to Our House and The Bonfire of the Vanities, who died this week