?

Log in

Keep this book at arm's length! - click opera
February 2010
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
 
 
 
 
 
 
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 12:50 am
Keep this book at arm's length!

Here—en exclusivité!—is the first glimpse of the finished cover of the french edition of The Book of Jokes, Le Livre des blagues, due from La Volte on 8th October (if you believe Amazon France) or 15th October (La Volte themselves). The image is by photographer Izis, and it's one I like very much.

I first saw this photo in an old copy of Studio Voice magazine I happened to be leafing through in Floor Café in Kichijioji, Tokyo, in January 2006. I snapped a digital picture of it, along with the copyright information. When it came to suggesting covers for the french edition of The Book of Jokes, I submitted a mock-up: this photo with some Helvetica light dropped over it. By amazing co-incidence, it turned out that Xavier Belrose—the man who first commissioned me to write a novel, back in 2005 (although back then it was going to be called Lives of the Composers and be a sort of absurdist musical encyclopedia accompanied by a CD)—had put together a book of Izis photographs for another publisher and had an excellent relationship with Izis' son, so getting the rights to the image was fairly easy. The only stipulation was that we shouldn't crop the original composition (as Studio Voice—Amaterasu forgive them and rest their souls!—actually had). The layout and design is by Stéphanie Aparicio who—it turns out, in another co-incidence—used to work in Paris alongside my ex-wife.

Something rather bizarre occurred last night as I prepared this entry. I stumbled across a YouTube video of a man wearing what looks like a Franz Kafka mask, reading a particularly salty and blasphemous joke, in french, from chapter 27 of my novel! Sacre bleu! He reads, obviously, much better than I do, and the room he's sitting in is an elegant white space with high vaulted roof beams and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Here, have a look:



Now, I have a theory that this might be the man who commissioned the book. It certainly looks like his ears. But—I swear!—I've had no word from the publishers about this. I did genuinely find it by chance, and am posting it here as a curiosity.

La Volte now has a Facebook page about Le Livre des blagues. The blurb says:

"Here's a literary object which could be a sort of freakshow, a book in which monstrosity becomes law, while beauty and ugliness tussle out of control. It's naive, totally raw and cruel. The Book of Jokes is hard and violent like A Clockwork Orange, stunning and prolific like The Arabian Nights. Realistic to excess—to the point of de-realisation, you could say. From a glass house to a prison—where violent fathers and words multiply like maladies—The Murderer, The Molester and the Narrator deconstruct the real. Or the world. Or people. How? By telling jokes. By living jokes. By being jokes. We joke about everything, but isn't it jokes, isn't it low culture which mirrors us back in the worst and truest way?



"Here, jokes become tales. Very current tales. Bad jokes are the tales we deserve. The 14th century had The Decameron, we have The Book of Jokes. Momus was the greek god of mockery. His words are painful, but they hit home. He writes what can only be spoken, blurted during break time by 9 year-olds who think or know that the only important thing is to fuck cows and bugger nuns. Or bugger cows and fuck nuns.

"Watch out! Our collective unconscious lolls in this nightmarish book. A forbidden book, one it's wiser to hold at arm's length. Can a book and its reader be each other's uncles?"

I like this blurb, though my own points of orientation for the novel would be Alice in Wonderland, Monty Python and Sir Henry at Rawlinson End rather than A Clockwork Orange, The Arabian Nights and The Decameron. But it's definitely a book you should keep at arm's length.

21CommentReplyShare

imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 12:46 am (UTC)

This whole thing suddenly reminded me of The Life of Milk, a novel I was planning to write in installments for Paypal donations back in 2000. I did a whole series of mock-up covers for imaginary foreign editions of the book:





This fantasy is replaying now as reality! Well, almost; no Italian or Japanese editions of The Book of Jokes yet.

Edited at 2009-09-09 12:49 am (UTC)


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 09:37 am (UTC)
question

Spanish edition on the way?


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC)
Re: question

Nothing planned for the moment, but rights-selling continues, there's some agent fellow working on it, I'm told.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC)

I have just read the first installment of The Life Of Milk on your imomus website. All I can say is I that totally understand why there wasn't a second installment. I do hope your literary skills have improved considerably since then; if not, I will be giving The Book Of Jokes a wide berth.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 02:59 pm (UTC)

Why do you think I didn't link to it? It's rubbish. But the jackets are good!


ReplyThread Parent
microworlds
microworlds
Sparkachu Maelworth
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)

God, why can't I find that email exchange we had where you sent me that scan of the little boy??? I would have posted it but there are way too many emails to sift through. >:(


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)
Gorilla arms

Reading the third from last paragraph put me in mind of Georges Brassens.


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 01:25 am (UTC)
Re: Gorilla arms

Ah, that's interesting! Le Grand Georges is paraphrased in an early chapter of the novel, specifically his song La Traitresse.



I love Brassens!


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 02:35 am (UTC)
Re: Gorilla arms

What I like about Brassens is the nonchalant vulgarity. Hairstyle of the primate (not the Catholic Primate, likesay).


ReplyThread Parent
petit_paradis
petit_paradis
erik
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 07:06 am (UTC)
doomed to fall like blossom

the boy in the graveyard looks like a young momus





erik
rotterdam


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 07:27 am (UTC)
Poop Bum Bugger Ass Fuck

Shit Cunt Come Twatty Butt Felch Piss!


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 10:54 am (UTC)
Re: Poop Bum Bugger Ass Fuck

Is that you Bawbie?


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 11:57 am (UTC)
hard will

which grave yard is that?
and whose the boy?


ReplyThread
erotreme
erotreme
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
before the anons start coming out of the woodwork

A pre-emptive: It's his blog. He has a right to talk about his new book.

The photo *does* look like you. I was sure it was!


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
Re: before the anons start coming out of the woodwork

Imagine this blog without the anons...


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
Re: before the anons start coming out of the woodwork

Imagine this blog without the anons.


ReplyThread Parent
count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
Re: before the anons start coming out of the woodwork

Imblogine this nona without the mages!


ReplyThread Parent
akabe
akabe
alin huma
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)

so they rechanneled all the cropping zeal into your portrait on the back


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Sep. 9th, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)

La Volte's blog about the novel. I think they're trying to encourage other people to do their own YouTube readings of their favourite bits!


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Thu, Sep. 10th, 2009 04:57 am (UTC)

I really liked your book. It was a fun straddle between Rabelais and Robbe-Grillet!


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Fri, Sep. 11th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
spanish version?

I am curious if there are plans already to publish a spanis version of your Libro de Bromas, por Momus...
Would love to work the translation.
When will you come to Mexico City?
Best wishes for your next concerts and projects.
Warm regards,
Guillermo.


ReplyThread