It was a happier Valentine’s Day than I was expecting. As if in response to my Pattern Recognition complaints, something astonishing happened yesterday. I received what may be the first legit post-9.11 novel.
Background: in addition to editing a pharmaceutical trade magazine by day, I run Voyant Publishing, a small press publishing house, by night. One of the authors I’ve published, Paul West, recently asked me if I’d be interested in looking at a new book of his. We worked together last year to reissue his great novel, The Place In Flowers Where Pollen Rests and, though sales have been sluggish (we’ve done much better with the scatological queer porno romance mystery academic thriller novel, The Mad Man, by Samuel R. Delany), Mr. West seemed impressed enough by our operations to offer me the new book.
Yesterday, it showed up in the mail. I got home from work and found a shoebox with the return address of Mr. West’s wife, the poet and essayist Diane Ackerman, sitting at my door. Any plans of going into NYC to meet friends on Valentine’s Day were dashed. I sat down and read the first section of the book (65 pages) after dinner, and was floored. Mr. West has thus far seemed to nail down the book I’ve been desperate to see since the terrible events of 9.11. I had to restrain my impulse to call him at home and tell him that we’d publish it. There’s still 350 or so pages, and things could go awry. But I’m amazed at what he’s written so far. (My apologies for the vagueness: it’s deliberate, in order to respect Mr. West’s privacy and not give away too much about an unpublished book.)
Always thinking as a publisher (in addition to an aesthete), it warmed my heart that Mr. West chose a title almost as difficult to remember as The Place In Flowers Where Pollen Rests: that is, The Immensity of the Here and Now. Never hurts, with books that need word-of-mouth promotion, to use a long and unwieldy title . . .