Are you hanging in there? How are you enjoying our age of unreason?
I’m also sorry to send you an email on Black Friday. If you’re anything like me, your inbox is overflowing with mirthlessly cheerful messages from earth-trashing corporations desperate to grasp as much of your hard-earned cash as they can. And I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit this letter doesn’t have some of the same aims...
But hey! I hope we’re also flying a flag for art and culture, the human soul and the good-old-Norwich-based metropolitan elite. Our fellow world citizens have done some good work this year. Apparently, small press sales are booming. So well done to all our friends who are putting out such fine work. We’re proud to be among you. And if we’re also jealous it’s mainly in a healthy, admiring sort of way. Mainly.
I’m also happy to say it’s been a good year for Galley Beggar Press and our beloved authors. Since the last newsletter, we’ve managed to put out two more books that are filling us with pride and satisfaction.
Gonzalo C. Garcia's We Are The End is now in the world and, just like us, readers are finding it moving and funny and sad and smart.
And what’s this? Uh-huh. Oh yeah! It's just been named a book of the year in The Evening Standard:
"I was swept up by the dizzy-making, pleasurably nutty prose and the sarcastic, sweet-sour humour."
Here’s another review we liked from Disclaimer magazine.
And this one too from the brilliant Bookmuse.
I’d also highly recommend listening to Gonzalo being kind about Tom Hanks' book and talking beautifully about writing on the World Service Arts Hour:
And likewise on the fantastic Literary South podcast.
Megan Dunn’s Tinderbox has also just arrived. She joined us from New Zealand at a joint launch party with Gonzalo last week.
Thank you to everyone who came to that. We had a blast and it was great to see so many people celebrating these fantastic writers. And Megan gave a fine first reading from Tinderbox – a book which is gloriously unlike anything else. I joked with Megan that there’s never been anything quite like it, and after 2,500 years of Western Civilisation that’s got to count for something... But while I wasn’t being entirely serious, maybe I also was. Because I defy you to find something like Tinderbox anywhere else on the shelves. Our first non-fiction title is the story of someone trying to write a fan tribute to Fahrenheit 451 in a month, combined with reflections of the closure of Borders stores in the UK, combined with... Well, you get the picture. Amazingly, all this cleverly inter-woven narrative takes up only 150 pages and contains EVERYTHING. It’s a book about struggling to write and to be, about working in shops when shops stop working properly, about the long slow slide of Capitalism and the discontent that brings, about dystopia, about censorship, about art and damn me it all happens in 150 pages - with jokes! It’s hilarious and brilliant and you have to read it. It feels fantastic to be bringing out something so unusual - and yet so important.
I have to admit that publication of this one has also brought a few surprises. I'm feeling slightly older at the moment, because the printers have now sent our limited editions to us twice… without end papers. What this means is that while the paperbacks are in the shops, the limited version is currently on the production line for a world record third reprint and oh boy. Here’s hoping. … The good news is that when they do arrive on Monday, they will be utterly lovely – and also reach subscribers well in time for Christmas. What a treat you’re in for, anyway! Slim, elegant and full of wonderful words... Tinderbox is worth the wait. (Even if you could have used the stress emanating from Galley Beggar Towers last week to power whole rail networks.)
We have more of those limited editions available in the store and you’ll make us very happy if you buy one.
Meanwhile, Preti Taneja goes from strength to strength. We particularly enjoyed this mention from Daniel Swift in the Spectator’s books of the year:
"Taneja’s novel is big, beautiful, and most of all bold... A masterpiece, and by a long way my book of the year".
And here’s a fine interview in Scroll.in (Our favourite sentence? "I write in a fury against gender violence, the rise of right wing nationalism, and a toxic masculinity not limited to India...")
Being a publisher can make you feel very proud.
This is a pretty cracking review in the Deccan Chronicle too.
If you’re in Cambridge this weekend, you can also come and see Preti talking at the Cambridge Literary Festival.
Okay, I’m going to try to write again before Christmas – and I’ll use that to tell you about next year’s books, which are shaping up to be pretty darn superb. (We’re starting with Toby Litt’s Wrestliana – I can’t wait to get that into readers’ hands.)
In the meantime, our other big announcement is that the Galley Beggar School is go. And we’re excited! This is our big attempt to share some of the knowledge we’ve gained working in the industry as authors and journalists as well as publishers – and do more of the thing we love most: working with writers. (And also to provide funding for future print runs and cushioning from the continuing nightmare of Brexit.)
Full information, prices and all of the important details are on our website, but, in brief, starting from early next year we’ll be providing:
(1) Editorial surgeries, which are 30-minute, one-to-one sessions where writers can access advice from professional editors (i.e., us - and have some of their work read in advance of the meeting).
(2) A six-month class, Critical Reading, Critical Writing. This is a course both for writers and readers. It is for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of novels and how they work. It looks into the techniques of novel writing, the tricks of the author's trade and the decisions and work that go into making a good book. We'll be tearing into six classic novels, and trying to really see how and why they work so well...
(3) And finally, mentorships. There are just four of these available – where we’ll be working on a one-to-one basis with a writer on a work-in-progress, for a six-month period.
Okay. Short snippets like these don’t really do service to what we’re hoping to offer or just how enthused we feel about the possibilities of the school – but I know this is newsletter is getting longer than ever… So again, click on those links for further information or head to our home page, where you’ll find a new 'School’ banner.
We’re hoping that we’ll see some of you at a surgery or a class. Alternatively, we’re thinking that this could be the kind of Christmas present that can change a loved-one’s life for the better. And at the very least something that will provide an interesting and enlightening experience for anyone who cares about literature. So if you’re interested, please drop us a line.
Right. The final piece of news, of course, is that Jeff Bezos and Amazon have bought the rights to a Lord Of The Rings TV adaptation. I’d like to make some notes about that master of shadows getting his hands on the One Ring and making us all his slaves in Mordor, but I know I can’t type any faster than you're thinking of the necessary jokes. I also don’t want you to start dwelling about our friend Jeff, naked and scaly, green-tinged, slimy about the eyes, crouching and smirking, gripping a Kindle in his wrecked talon and shouting: “Mine! My precious! We wants it!” Just because a metaphor writes itself, it doesn’t mean you have to go there. Not always, anyway...
PS. If you’re looking for a Christmas gift, please also consider my book Enemies Of The People, which explains a lot about Brexit and Trump and the fantasy economic system that has taken over our world. You might also like Literary London, which Elly and I wrote last year and contains some of our love for books and the people who wrote them.
Oh and don't forget that Galley Beggar Subscriptions make a fine present. And help us keep on trucking.
Finally, I’ve been enjoying the new Jim White album, and our daughter rightly recommends Taylor Swift (just admit she's kind of a genius, and your life will be better). I'm also listening to the new Bicep album too and filling up with nostalgia. The further away the 1990s get, the better they seem.
PPS Just got this far and realised we haven’t run any Black Friday reductions. Er... In your face global capitalism? (We’ll try to put together some bargains in the New Year instead.)