Thursday 28 June 2007

More on Anna Kavan

This time from Lee Rourke on the Guardian book blog. We see that they've chosen to use the self portrait as illustration. It never fails, when people ask for a picture of Kavan we always send a selection and they always go for the self portrait. 'spose paintings have a bit more colour . . .
This is an under used photo:

Tuesday 26 June 2007


It was a morning going through submissions today. I mention this because there's been some controversy in the blogosphere over some delightfully honest remarks from Scott Pack backed up quickly by Susan Hill and Snow Books and probably others. It's not an easy job going through the submissions pile, not so much because the choices are difficult but because there are so many people who say that they are aware how hard it is to publish a book successfully and yet somehow think that this rule doesn't apply in their case. So many perfectly well written memoirs, fascinating to one's close family but not so much to everyone else and more enthusiastic novels that have obviously not come close to a second draft. Let alone the dozens that every book should go through before it sees the light of day.

It's sad but over the last year we've had at least five hundred unsolicited submissions and asked to see maybe five in their entirety. We have published two.

Monday 25 June 2007

Russell reviewed and Miller interviewed

A nice piece in the Spectator about our Ken Russell books . It's been a while since we mentioned Ken, it's good to have him glowering up there again.

Miranda Miller has done an interview for The Book Depository . We really should be doing some more of that kind of thing.

Thursday 21 June 2007


Been awfully quiet over the past week for which apologies.

Our Anna Kavan event has been included into the Londonlitplus programme. This is a wonderful idea, I especially like their map of the alternative literary festival. We wonder whether an intrepid blogger might keep something like this up all year round? It could become quite a Scene (a favourite Peter Owen word).

We have a new cover for our latest Modern Classic, I Live Under a Black Sun :

The interesting thing about publishing this one was that we ddin't know whether we would make it a moderen classic or no – not because of the quality: it's a remarkable piece of work but because we weren't sure whether we had published it before. A book can't be a P.O.M.C. without our having published it previously. Peter was adamant that he had but he couldn't remember whether it was under the P.O. imprint or whether he had just bought copies from John Lehmann. When we found a finished copy from ABE books (see posts passim) it presented quite a conundrum: The cover was P.O. and the imprint pages were P.O. but the binding was John Lehmann. A free copy of the new edition to anyone who can explain how that happened . . .

P.S. Looks like we're going to publish a new collection of short stories by Mervyn Peake.

Friday 15 June 2007


That bastion of American printed lit crit, Bookforum is now also a bastion of American pixelated lit crit, being now published on the internet. This new edition has a piece on Anna Kavan .

Tuesday 12 June 2007

Damian Flanagan on Natsume Soseki

The lucky folk of Manchester will be able to celebrate Bastille day with an afternoon of Japanese literature. The Japan Society North West have organized for Natsume Soseki expert and champion Damian Flanagan to give a talk on Soseki at the Manchester Art Gallery .

In other news the dovegreyreader has done a review of Who Are You? by Anna Kavan. We have one satisfied reviewer there, I'd say.

Thursday 7 June 2007

The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas

The Dovegreyreader has also discovered The Ice Palace and her reaction has been the same as everyone into whose hot little hands this superlative novel has been placed. At Shakespeare and Company there's been a guy who for the last couple of years has apparently made it his personal mission to get this book on every shelf in the known world. And good luck to him. We are absolutely certain that if only we could get it onto enough shopfloors in the UK then Tarjei Vesaas would finally get the posthumous renown that he so richly deserves.

Tuesday 5 June 2007

A wander round the blogosphere

A quick peek at Britlitblogs revealed a post today by Fictionbitch: The Comedy of Tragedy and the Tragedy of Comedy which immediately reminds one of our very own The Enormity of the Tragedy and upon reading it, even more so. It concerns an article by Julian Gough (there are grammar/presentation issues with these links. ed.) about the way that western thought has progressively discounted the comic in favour of the tragic and links this to the rise of monotheism, Vale of Tears thoughts and such. Fictionbitch also points to critique by The Reading Experience which, while not necessarily disagreeing with the argument, points out that American writers have been being both important and funny for quite some time. The striking thing (for us! ed.) about Julian Gough's article is that it begins with the example of Aristophanes - as does The Enormity . . . :

MAGISTRATE: Why are you twisting around like that? And draping your cloak over your front? Did your travels give you a hernia in the crotch?
HERALD: The fellow’s gone crazy, I swear to Castor!
MAGISTRATE (pulling his cloak to one side): Hey, that’s a hell of a hard-on, you filthy beast!
HERALD: No, I swear to Zeus, it isn’t! Enough of such nonsense!
MAGISTRATE (pointing): What do you call that then?
HERALD: A snake from Sparta.
Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 986–91

The point being that Quim Monzó is a fine example of an author who is both important and funny. Others from our list might include The Year of the Hare and Angels on the Head of a Pin and further afield Nabokov, Kafka, Garcia Marquez, Murakami, and so, so many more writers in translation who so often seem to be missing similar debates in English literary circles.

Irish Times review

Another Alfred Douglas review is up on the web page, this time in the Irish Times. Its particular emphasis is on Caspar's engagement with Wilde's De Profundis - a document that might be considered one of the founding myths of the Twentieth Century. It also rightly signals the following as one of the most interesting, written on Wilde's death but before Douglas knew about De Profundis:

'I dreamed of him last night, I saw his face
All radiant and unshadowed of distress,
And as of old, in music measureless,
I heard his golden voice and marked him trace
Under the common thing the hidden grace,
And conjure wonder out of emptiness,
Till mean things put on beauty like a dress
And all the world was an enchanted place.'

Monday 4 June 2007

Surrealism in in the air

and the water and especially the print media. As promised the Times review of Hidden Faces came out and made all the rushing around London worthwhile. This is, of course, timed to coincide with the Dali and Film exhibition at the Tate Modern.

Friday 1 June 2007

The weekend spilleth over

with reviews . . .
The Wheel of Fortune is named as one of things that Emma Thompson should do this week in the Evening Standard magazine. The reviewer told us over the phone that the film is fantastic.

The TLS's review of the Alfred Douglas biography is very good and will appear on the website shortly.

Transmission , an excellent literary magazine has done a piece on Hermann Hesse the last paragraph running thus:

'There is a peculiar sensation that results from reading Hesse, a feeling that somehow one is being presented with one's deepest thoughts stated with sublime simplicity. I have many times experienced sentences in Hesse that have caused me to stop reading and to seek out, in a state of head-shaking wonder, someone to read the line to. Today, Hesse slips through the cracks. That he achieves this is a testament to the incongruity his work has with our fucked culture. There can be no higher recommendation.' This is next to the picture reproduced above.

Furthermore The Times will do a review of Hidden Faces tomorrow, partly the fruit of a mad dash on the part of Blogger no1 who had to buy the LAST REMAINING COPY OF THE PREVIOUS EDITION IN ALL OF LONDON at Waterstones in Hampstead (very nice people there, there are now some P.O.P. bookmarks to be had there) before going on to deliver said copy to the reviewer in Mile End (also very nice). All very exhausting.

AND a very large (according to the lit. ed.) review of the Alfred Douglas biography in the Irish Times , also tomorrow.