Monday, September 24, 2012

Hey diddle-dee-dee: a writer’s life for me

ON November 17 last year – was it really that long ago? – I blogged about the mixed joys of finishing another book. Today, ten months later, you would be justified in expecting to see it at your friendly local independent bookshop. But it isn’t. I don't mean the bookshop's not friendly, I mean the book isn’t even at the printers yet. I’ve been having trouble with the publisher. Nearly all writers have the same: Dostoevsky, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and possibly every writer ever, except perhaps Barbara Cartland and J. K. Rowling. I shouldn’t really complain about the crassness of the leather-elbowed academics called upon to review the book: there’s always a gem or two hidden among their fatuities – and I have to agree that the book will be all the better for the fact that I now know the correct plural of gellateria. But I can’t help being reminded of Saul Bellow’s bellow: “Where were you when all I had was a sheet of paper?” I have been censored – and censured – for saying that Tony Blair is known in Tuscany as Il Scroccone – the scrounger – because of his alleged penchant for squatting, with his family, (I don’t know the plural) in the castles of wealthy Italian aristocrats and politicians, and for selecting RAF Transport Command as his carrier of choice. Some reviewers, on the other hand, have shown impeccable taste. The great authority on Tuscany, Frances Mayes, who knows the region better than anyone since Cosmo I de Medici, was kind enough to say “This book enriches my own journeys in this fabled land.” One cognicento even said it “out-Bryson’s Bryson”. We’ve battled over text, title, pictures – and now it’s the cover, which I thought funereal. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But you can. Have a look:
But now it really is over: the whole caboodle has gone to Sweden to be printed and soon you’ll be buying it in your trillions and I'll be working on something else. Lucky you.