Tuesday, January 28, 2014

More DBB visits ALA (If I'd stopped by the Tor/Forge booth, I could have called this post Tor and Peace)

Melville House's display at the American Library Association's 2014 Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia included Giorgio Scerbanenco's Traitors to All (published in Britain under the title Betrayal), a welcome reminder that Scerbanenco, the Father of Italian Noir, will finally be easily available in the U.S. for the first time in more that forty years. The novel appears later this year, as will Scerbanenco's A Private Venus, the appearance of whose U.K. edition had to be the event of of the international crime fiction year in 2012.

Scerbanenco may be Melville House's greatest gift to America since it reprinted Derek Raymond's Factory novels.
***
Scerbanenco may be Melville House's greatest gift to America until it publishes U.S. editions of David Peace's The Damned United, Red or Dead, and GB84 later this year. The publisher offered a 30-page excerpt of Red or Dead at its ALA booth, and the first few pages make me want to read more.  The novel is the story of a soccer manager's revolutionary salvaging of the then down-on-its-lick Liverpool F.C., but it reads like James Ellroy.

Old meets new in a cool chair
at the ALA 2014 Midwinter
Meeting. Photo  by your
humble blogkeeper.
The relentless prose suggests Ellroy, whose American Tabloid, Blood's A Rover, and The Cold Six Thousand I've read in the past month. Peace's novel, like Ellroy's trilogy, is based on history, though of a man, a city, and a soccer team, rather than of a tumultuous era in a nation's history. I expect I'll find myself comparing how the two authors make fictional sense out of reality.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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20 Comments:

Blogger seana graham said...

Good news on both fronts. I read a little of Red or Dead online, and it does look good, if somewhat relentless. And I love Italian noir, so I will look forward to Scerbanenco as well.

January 28, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Good news on all three fronts, you mean: The chair is cool, though it has nothing to do with Melville House.

I will do what I can get a copy of Red or Dead in my hands. I thought some of Peace's repetition at the very beginning was not strictly necessary. But then the device began to take effect, and the 30 pages in the excerpt went by too quickly.

I had not previously heard of GB84, but that, too, looks good, a bit like a 1980s British version of ELlroy's Underworld USA books.

And this just occurred to me: GB84 is about 1984. I also picked up a novel by Florian Illies called 1913: The Year Before the Storm. I wonder if those novels are thoughtful, serious reactions to that annoying wave of books that proclaimed this, that, or the other year the year that changed everything.

January 28, 2014  
Blogger John McFetridge said...

David Peace's Red Riding Quartet are also terrific books, a little Ellroy-like in the prose and pacing.

January 29, 2014  
Blogger Kent Morgan said...

GB84 and a novel written vy Martyn Waites both relate to the miner's strike in England in 1984. I've read the Waites book and have had GB84 on my shelf since I ordered it from England in 2004. I've read the first three books in the Red Riding Hood Trilogy and The Damned Utd and have a couple of his Tokyo novels well down in my TBR stack. You need to devote plenty of time to reading Peace and I think that is why I have avoided GB84.

January 29, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

John, I have read Nineteen Seventy-Seven. Why start with the second novel of the four? Because I screwed up and shipped Nineteen Seventy-Four home from Belfast and took Nineteen Seventy-Seven in y carry-on luggage rather than vice versa.

The quartet is, I guess, also a bit like Derek Raymond in its subject.

January 30, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kent, I think Peace requires concentration more than it requires time, and a willingness to be drawn into the rhythms and the repetition--as is the case with Ellroy's recent novels, some would say.

I've met Martyn Waites at conferences. Which is his book about the miner's strike? It might be interesting to read his book and Peace's.

January 30, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand the fuss about Melville House's publishing Scerbanenco's Traitors to All.
Since, both A Private Venus and Betrayal (which is Traitors to All) have been available on Amazon from Hersilia for quite a while, in paperback and Kindle versions, there's something I'm not getting.

I'm just a reader no way involved in the publishing industry. Why, I wonder,instead of cannibalizing, didn't Melville House do another of the five Milan books? There are enough Scerbanencos (and Simenons) to go around. Explanation please.

January 31, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Anon: I'm no more a publishing insider than you are, but I suspect that the Melville House editions of Scerbanenco are the first print editions published in America. (Hersilia deserve all the credit for first publishing these new translations, by Howard Curtis.)

I'm not sure how much work and money are involved in commissioning new translations as opposed to buying American rights to books already translated. For all I know, Hersilia and Melville House have some sort of joint agreement to publish the books.

January 31, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A few of this blog's previous posts that have mentioned Hersilia Press should you be interested.

January 31, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PR:
Thank you for your reply. Still doesn't make any sense to me . . the Melville House "Traitors" in paperback is a dollar more than the Hersilia version, and the Melville House Kindles are three dollars more. . .
Why not cooperate on doing the other two Milanos and the short stories?

If I ran the railroad . . .

January 31, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, is Betrayal (the title under which Hersilia publishes Traditori di Tutti) available at domestic prices in the U.S.?

It appears that as of today, the U.S. paperback is slightly cheaper than the British on Amazon, while the Kindle edition is more expensive. Both the U.S. and the U.K. editions use translations by Howard Curtis. But here, too, I don't know the business details, whether the publishers collaborated to commission translations, whether one acquired rights from the other, etc.

January 31, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your Hmm. Hanky panky is definitely going on on the Amazon Scerbanenco site. Now the Hersilia paper back of "Betrayal" is a buck more than the Melville House. I bought the two Hersilia Kindles yesterday and I'm glad I did. Going along with what you said previously, I think the Hersilia Kindles will vanish when those from Melville House are released. Silly.

Meanwhile, thanks to your web site, I'm addicted to his Milan books, and have had to order the rest in Italian from ibs.it. I'd so much rather read them in their excellent Howard Fast translations.

January 31, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy am I confused . . .Howard Curtis translations. Sorry about that . . .shows my age. Does anyone remember Howard Fast??

January 31, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I was going to mention that slip-up. I vaguely remember Howard Fast from my early youth. All I seem to remember is that he wrote big best-sellers in the 1960s.

Howard Curtis has done elegant, fluent translations from several languages. I am pleased to say that he has posted a comment or two on this blog.

Scerbanenco's appearance in English is a an event, whoever the publisher is. He is revered in Italy, and he had an interesting life: born in Kiev, moved to Italy, wrote widely in several genres including, I think, for a fashion magazine. The name of the Premio Scerbanenco, a top Italian crime fiction prize, honors him.

January 31, 2014  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Red or Dead is a masterpiece/the worst book ever written depending on you how you relate to those first 30 pages. I was in the former camp indeed it was my favourite novel of 2013.

January 31, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian: The only thing that turned me off a bit in the early pages was that repetition of "In the winter-time. In the night-time." It was not clear to me why Peace did that. Perhaps it will become so later. The rest of the repetition worked, and I will look forward with interest to see the various uses to which Peace puts this device. I received a galley of the full novel today, so I have much looking to do.

I read The Cold Six Thousand last week, following closely on the other novels in the Underworld U.S.A. trilogy, and I have been reading some of the short pieces Ellroy wrote around the same time. So am attuned to odd, abrupt prose rhythms. I read a much shorter, more conventional novel--an odd experience amid all Ellroy's staccato fireworks. I look forward to the man's latest novel, later this year.

January 31, 2014  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peace and Ellroy are at the opposite extremes of what prose writers are doing in crime or indeed literary fiction in terms of economy of style and perhaps because they are both so throughly ploughing their own furrow they are both brilliant.

I was teaching a class back in October and decided to read out a random piece of Red or Dead and I asked them who they thought wrote it. "Someone who is mentally ill," a man said perfectly seriously. Certainly I can see where he is coming from, yet, like I say it was my favourite novel of 2013.

Perhaps it helps that I met Shankly as a small boy. (I was the small boy not him.)

February 01, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, but like other opposites, they sometimes go so far in their own direction that they meet, or at least approach one another, on the opposite side of the circle.

OK, if Peace were mentally ill, he'd be autistic--repeating words and phrases over and over. If Ellroy had some mental or neurological condition, it would be more like logorrhea or Tourette's.

I'll ask you more about your early meeting with Shankly once I reach the second half of Peace's book. And the next time I meet the novelist Martin Edwards, a frequent attendee at crime fiction events, I'll ask him what he thinks of Shankly and of Peace's book. In his capacity as a lawyer, Edwards works or has worked for Liverpool FC.

February 01, 2014  
Blogger Kent Morgan said...

Peter:
Born Under Punches is the Martyn Waites book about the 1984 miner's strike. One of the main characters is a former footballer.

February 03, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kent: Thanks. I am enjoying Red or Dead so much that I expect to pick up GB84 soon after it becomes easily available. And that, in turn, should make good companion reading to Born Under Punches.

February 03, 2014  

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