Friday, June 19, 2009

From existential angst to creative contest: Win a book!

L.C. Tyler, author of The Herring Seller's Apprentice and A Very Persistent Illusion, has graciously offered a copy of his next novel, Ten Little Herrings. The book goes to the first person who recognizes the targets of Tyler's spoofs in The Herring-Seller's Apprentice. Quoth the author:

"I'd be happy to offer a copy of my next book, Ten Little Herrings, to the first person who can identify which author I thought I was parodying in the Italian bit (clue: he's not an Italian and he didn't write crime) and which book by Sartre I had in mind. (Prize to be dispatched as soon as it is published in August.)"
Read more about The Herring-Seller's Apprentice here (scroll down). First with the correct answer gets the book, Mr. Tyler to be the judge of all answers.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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36 Comments:

Blogger Philip said...

Contributions on this seem to have dried up since the previous post, in a comment on which Marco seems to have nailed the Sartre. I don't want to enter the competition because, as yet, I haven't read the novel, so I'll not name names, but just say with regard to the other half that there are two writers who are included in a list of influences Len Tyler mentioned in an interview. One he thinks could be funnier than people may suppose, the other reached a point in his career when he was not as funny as he thought, which caused him to change tack and declare that his earlier writing persona had committed suicide. That was the first suicide of two on his part -- both these writers were heavy drinkers, and both brooded themselves into oblivion. The birth of one preceded the other by two generations, and that is the one I the more suspect of being the writer in question. This bit of cryptic speculation could be completely wrong, of course, but it might spur further contributions, not to say a verdict on it from Len.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Len Tyler said...

Thank you, Philip, for these helpful comments. I can't locate the interview you refer to but you are on the right track. So,we seem to have asembled all of the suspects in the drawing room. Would somebody now like to point the finger? You don't have to have read the book ...

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Dorte H said...

No idea - I plan to read his debut before long, however.
Meta-fiction is great when it is great (Yes, I know - but in April I won a book for the stupidest comment so why not).
I have come across a lot of it this week - we have handed in our final exercise for my writing course, and now we have reached the stage when we kill off each other and ourselves. Quite funny, but it has left my brain spinning.

wv: rifirsi - Italian word for what has happened to my thought processes.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Philip said...

Thank you, Len -- I was not so very sure. The interview came from a publisher and was headed 'An Interivew (sic) with L.C. Tyler' and sans the name of the interviewer. I'll leave it that for now -- I'm curious to see what may be forthcoming before I name my suspects.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger marco said...

I think I have a clear idea about the possible suspects now, but I'll leave the naming to Philip.
Rifirsi is not really Italian by the way, just like my v-word intsicat is not really Latin, but both are reasonable imposters.

Ciao

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Len Tyler said...

OK, for those who haven't read the book, here's how the relevant chapter begins:

"In the summer of that year Fairfax worked in an office that looked across the river and the water meadows to the tree-capped hills beyond. The water in the river was brown and sluggish and there were cracks in the mud on each side where the level of the river had fallen. Cattle came down to the water to drink and churned up the mud with their hoofs, but the meadows were dry and the grass was scorched and dusty where the cattle passed on their way to the river."

Does that help? If nobody gets it today, I'll post a clue tomorrow.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Philip said...

Hmmm. All this does is make me think perhaps I should have edged toward the younger of my suspects. The other lived almost always either in places where cattle were hardly likely to be found or in places where water was mighty plentiful. Only one period in his life I should think an exception to that -- a notable excursion during which I don't think he would have had an office. The younger one once lived in a very dry place indeed.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Excellent! I woke up intending to post an excerpt from the chapter in question, but I see things are running themselves quite well without me. I'll go back to sleep now. Thanks!

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Philip, I had not read that interivew until now. I see my invocation of angst and Wodehouse was not misplaced. And-- but then, I have pledged not to enter my own contest.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dorte, this contest originated in a series of posts about self-reference, so the meta-fiction comment is not entirely out of place. I don't know if it will win you a prize like the one you won in April, though.

As it happens, I have just come across yet another possible self-referential passage in a mystery novel. The book is not otherwise about writing or about itself, which made the passage stand out all the more. I'll likely post something about the book in the next day or two.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Actually, I enjoyed your post - not because I saw a chance to win anything - but because I have been rather meta-fictionally occupied myself this week.

And I am also going to post something about it the next two days :)

I did win Tyler´s first book, however. Neither by being clever nor stupid - sheer luck.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger marco said...

The problem, on reflection, is that I don't really see the suspects in the guise of "the brooding Italian fictional detective, with the loyal assistant, who likes to drink during working hours". Especially the loyal assistant.
The office and the river make me think more of the older suspect, though.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dorte, the tease will work. I will look for your meta-fiction -- and maybe even jump-start my own.

Did you win the book in another contest?

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Marco, the fault could be mine. My summation may have been misleading. You'll just have to read the book -- or rely on Mr. Tyler's clues.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Great! There is no point in teasing people if you do not succeed ;)

And this time I shall even write my texts in English.

I won Tyler´s first book via EuroCrime (they usually have a competition or two every month).

G´night.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ah, a self-referential-fiction challenge?

God nat.

June 20, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

One of my favourite of Bertie Wooster's childhood pals of course is Reginald "Kipper" Herring.

I was thinking about PG Wodehouse while watching the disastrous second round of the US Open championship and although this is a little OT, thought you might enjoy this quote from PG:

"This book marks an epoch in my literary career. It is written in blood. It is the outpouring of a soul as deeply seared by Fate's unkindness as the pretty on the dog-leg hole of the second nine was ever seared by my iron. It is the work of a very nearly desperate man, an eighteen-handicap man who has got to look extremely slippy if he doesn't want to find himself in the twenties again.

As a writer of light fiction, I have always till now been handicapped by the fact that my disposition was cheerful, my heart intact, and my life unsoured. Handicapped, I say, because the public likes to feel that a writer of farcical stories is piquantly miserable in his private life, and that, if he turns out anything amusing, he does it simply in order to obtain relief from the almost insupportable weight of an existence which he has long since realized to be a wash-out. Well, today I am just like that.

Two years ago, I admit, I was a shallow farceur. My work lacked depth. I wrote flippantly simply because I was having a thoroughly good time. Then I took up golf, and now I can smile through the tears and laugh, like Figaro, that I may not weep.

If you find anything in this volume that amuses you, kindly bear in mind that it was probably written on my return home after losing three balls in the gorse or breaking the head off a favourite driver: and, with a murmured 'Brave fellow! Brave fellow!' recall the story of the clown jesting while his child lay dying at home. That is all. Thank you for your sympathy. It means more to me than I can say. Do you think that if I tried the square stance for a bit ... But, after all, this cannot interest you. Leave me to my misery.

postscript - In the second chapter I allude to Stout Cortez staring at the Pacific. Shortly after the appearance of this narrative in serial form in America, I received an anonymous letter containing the words, 'You big stiff, it wasn't Cortez, it was Balboa.' This, I believe, is historically accurate. On the other hand, if was good enough for Keats, he is good enough for me. Besides, even if it was Balboa, the Pacific was open for being stared at about that time, and I see no reason why Cortez should not have had a look at it as well."

P. G. WODEHOUSE

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I am familiar with Wodehouse's golf stories, so I can well understand the reference to golf as that which tests the soul and finds it wanting.

"Nonsense, dear boy," said the Oldest Blogger, placing a gentle but insistent hand on my shoulder as I tried to rise from my computer, "I shall now tell you how I first made the acquaintance of Pelham Grenville Wodehouse. The story begins with my Aunt Rose ... "

June 20, 2009  
Blogger Len Tyler said...

Good stuff on Wodehouse - definitely one of my favourite writers.

Back to the competition for a moment (if I may): I get the impression a number of people know who the author is and could claim the prize, but are figuring: "Why make a fool of myself just for one lousy book?" I sympathise.

Anyway, one final clue: The original on which the parody was based begins: "In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels." You may prefer the original to my version, but the original is, after all, one of the great works of literature of the twentieth century ...

Now Sunday morning, London time. I'll announce a winner tonight.

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Philip said...

Ah. Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway was, of course, the older of my two suspects, the other being Hunter S. Thompson. I should have plumped more firmly for Hemingway in a comment above, but at first I rather blinded myself to Len's parody because that wasn't the nature of the parody I got it in mind he had written, if that makes any sense. Silly me.

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Dorte H said...

Len Tyler, sorry we always discuss off-topic on Peter´s blog.

Peter,"a self-referential-fiction challenge?" - depends on whether you regard the author and the narrator of the piece as the same ;)

June 21, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

Back to the competition for a moment (if I may): I get the impression a number of people know who the author is and could claim the prize, but are figuring: "Why make a fool of myself just for one lousy book?" I sympathise.

Yesterday I had a strong temptation to say Hemingway (which, by the way, was the only one with a tenuous Italian connection) but I thought it was right to let Philip say it first, since he basically did at the beginning of this post.
Funnily Hemingway was the one I had thought of immediately - along with Fitzgerald- when I answered in the other post, but since the two were obviously friends and you didn't mention that I had got so close, I then thought that I was on the wrong track.

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Len Tyler said...

OK - I think we have two winners - Marco for getting the Sartre reference and Philip for Hemingway. Congratulations both.

If you'd like to email me (details on the "contact" section of my website www.lctyler.com) with your delivery address etc, I'll arrange for copies of Ten Little Herrings to be sent as soon as it is published. (Alternatively let me know if you would prefer Herring Seller's Apprentice in p/b.)

Thanks everyone.

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It's always good to talk about Wodehouse. And yes, it really was my Aunt Rose who introduced me to his work. It is appropriate to be introduced to Wodehouse by one's aunt.

Len, I doubt anyone hesitated to make a fool of himself or herself for just one book. I suspect that some might have hesitated lest they guess incorrectly. We love free books!

Thanks for putting up the prize, taking a generous part in the discussion, and stimulating our interest in Hemingway (who was my guess for the Italian parody), Sartre and your own work.

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Philip, Hemingway was my suspect, too, A Farewell to Arms being among the few of his works that I've read, but I disqualified myself form the contest lest to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.. And Hemingway did veer into crime fiction in "The Killers." Hunter S. Thompson would have been an interesting guess. Lucidity of prose is not what one normally associates with him.

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Philip said...

Very enjoyable post all round, Peter. Thanks to you and to Len. I think the reluctance on Marco's part was a very gentlemanly notion that as I had strongly hinted at Hemingway, I should name him. And I was pretty sure that Marco had it and I wanted him to name Hemingway because he'd swiftly homed in on La Nausee. And, I must confess, I was rather enjoying the riddling.

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dorte, another good tease. I clicked on your site right after the first tease, and I'll do so again now.

Off-topic is good!

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Marco, Fitzgerald made me think Hemingway, but I did not say so, since you had shamed me out of entering the contest.

Your deference to Philip helps gives Mr. Tyler's work wider circulation, since he'll now award two books rather than one.

And I suggest we lift a glass to the generous Mr. Tyler. Enjoy his books!

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"(S)ince the two were obviously friends and you didn't mention that I had got so close, I then thought that I was on the wrong track."

The exercise lay bare our methods of detection, as well. We're like a bunch of detectives in the last scene of a police procedural talking about a case.

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Philip, this has been a highly enjoyable exercise. Thanks to you, too, and to all who took part.

June 21, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

And I suggest we lift a glass to the generous Mr. Tyler. Enjoy his books!

As my v-word suggests, I'm always prepred to lift a glass or two.
Cheers!

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's a fine, sociable v-word. My v-word sounds like a name you might mangle after raising too many glasses in a discussion about philosophy and politics: gamsi

June 21, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Hmmm, I posted this yesterday but it seems to have been swallowed by the ether.

I was only going to say that Hemingway had Fitzgerald read the Ms. of A Farewell To Arms (rather like he did with The Sun Also Rises) and much to his suprise it came back HEAVILY marked up from Fitz. According to Matthew Bruccoli in "Hemingway and Fitzgerald - A Dangerous Friendship" Hemingway reluctantly took on board some of Fitz's suggestions inlcuding several of his cuts and changes. Famously of course he cut the beginning of A Sun Also Rises, but I dont remember what exactly he did to the beginning of A Farewell to Arms.

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I once read photocopies of Hemingway manuscripts at the Kennedy Library in Boston. I wonder if the Fitzgerald-edited A Farewell to Arms is there.

I seem vaguely to recall your having mentioned the Kennedy Library once. Did you read any of those manuscripts?

June 21, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I visited but no I dont remember seeing them. Like my several trips to the MFA, I had a young child with me...Thats all we need to say.

My info comes from a vague recollection of Brucolli's book (I wonder what his nickname was in school) which is now in a storage locker in Denver. I do remember Fitzgerald complimenting H. while recommending that he end Farewell 6 chapters or so before he actually does. Hemingway apparently wrote in the margin "kiss my arse" or some such.

Sorry for being so vague but I read this a few years ago.

My v word, incredibly, is ernest.

June 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I logged off then logged on again to see if I could get a v-word as good as yours. I did not, though mine would apply nicely to a wily brother or sister: slysib

The manuscripts were not on display. I seem to recall that my friend had wangled some sort of research pass to the library in order to look at them. I also remember looking at photocopies of some letters between Fitzerald and Hemingway, which is why I wondered if I might have seen the manuscript.

June 21, 2009  

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