I’m pleased to say that the final copy-editing process has been completed on Expo 58, and the definitive text has been sent to the printers.
Meanwhile Penguin are on the point of unveiling Jonathan Gray’s fantastic cover design. Have a look here to see some of his sources of inspiration …
February 5th, 2013 will mark the eightieth anniversary of the birth of BS Johnson. All right, so I don’t suppose there will be an excess of bunting out in the streets that day, but many Johnson aficionados - myself included - are pretty excited about it. And to celebrate the occasion, Picador, Johnson’s publishers, have excelled themselves with a superb publishing programme. This is what we can look forward to:
- Single-volume reissues of his novels Albert Angelo, Trawl, House Mother Normal and Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry. All the books feature eye-catching new covers by La Boca, and the first three have new introductions by, respectively, Toby Litt, Jon McGregor and Andrew Motion.
- A new, 471-page hardback volume of rare and out-of-print Johnson material called Well Done God! This has been edited by myself, Philip Tew and Julia Jordan, and contains a facsimile reprint of Johnson’s short prose collection Aren’t You Rather Young to be Writing Your Memoirs?, six stage and television plays (three of them previously unpublished) and more than one hundred pages of uncollected journalism.
- An evening of readings, screenings and discussions at the British Library in London (15th February), to launch the reissued novels and Well Done God!, and to celebrate Johnson’s life and work. Confirmed participants include David Quantick, Julia Jordan and Johnson’s longtime friends and collaborators Michael Bakewell and Philip Pacey.
As if that were not enough BS Johnson goodness, the bfi have given me permission to leak a few details of their forthcoming DVD release on the Flipside label. This will come out on 15 April and will include, among other things, fully restored and cleaned-up versions of You’re Human Like the Rest of Them, Paradigm and Fat Man on a Beach; rare TV documentaries by Johnson on his novel The Unfortunates and his namesake Samuel Johnson; and a recently recovered b/w home video recording of his long-lost television play Not Counting the Savages.
Will Johnson fans be able to cope with so much excitement and activity at once?
Dear Readers, if there are indeed any of you still out there. We are nearly at the end of the year and, if I’ve been quiet on here for the last few months, that’s because I have been pretty busy elsewhere.
I spent some time in the late summer/early autumn writing the short story ‘Pentatonic’, and then working with Danny Manners on the audio version, which we performed live twice in the UK in September, and then recorded at the studio of our good friend Ken Brake near Regent’s Park in London. We’re both very happy with the result, and I hope that some of you are motivated to download it: it can be purchased from eMusic, amazon and iTunes.
Last month I finished another story, ‘Rotary Park’, which will be published in the Sunday Telegraph this Sunday, December 23rd. I don’t think it will be made available online, although now that I’ve increased my lifetime’s output of short stories from 3 to 5 in the space of a few months, you never know, I might have enough for a collection before too long …
The thing it gives me most pleasure to announce, though, is the completion of my new novel, EXPO 58. As the title suggests, it is set during the Brussels World’s Fair of 1958. It’s a comic novel of the Cold War, mixing espionage, politics and romance. I think of it as John Le Carré meets Evelyn Waugh, although a friend who read it said it was more like GK Chesterton meeting Alfred Hitchcock. Penguin will publish the book in the UK in September 2013, with Dutch and Italian editions coming out at the same time or even sooner.
All of these new works, ‘Pentatonic’, ‘Rotary Park’ and EXPO 58 are extensions or by-products of the same family saga which began with the story ‘Ivy and Her Nonsense’ and continued with THE RAIN BEFORE IT FALLS.
Incidentally if you’re not already a subscriber to eMusic I would strongly recommend it as offering the best value (and most interesting selection) of all the music download sites. Here, for instance, is my favourite musical discovery of the year: Vince Mendoza’s 1999 album EPIPHANY, a beautiful fusion of jazz and orchestral music which accompanied me through the writing of the last few chapters of EXPO 58, and provided a constant stream of joy and inspiration. The first track, ‘Impromptu’, is just extraordinary.
A happy, peaceful and creative 2013 to everyone.