November 24, 2005

Mamas, don't let your kids grow up to be authors.

Mark Twain once said that there were two things that you never wanted to see being made: sausages and legislation. Pirates & ScientistsWe suspect that there were originally three on Twain's list, but that he dropped the third — writing and publishing books — in order to protect the sensibilities of his posterity.

Here's a case in point: One of the most enjoyable books we've read in the past few months is The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe. It's a Python-esque tale of Charles Darwin's fateful encounter with a shipload of pirates, after the buccaneers attack the Beagle [Darwin's ship] in the mistaken notion that it's full of royal bullion. [If you haven't read it yet and have a taste for the very silly, we commend the book to your attention.]

In the UK Guardian, Oliver Burkeman has the tale of how the book went from being a joke between Defoe and some drunken friends to finding a publisher to showing up in bookstores in the US and UK. It's not pretty.

In the months since Pirates was published, Gideon Defoe has come to loathe — in his characteristically jovial way — a novel called Ireland, by Frank Delaney. It is bigger than his, and on alphabetically ordered shelves it is always stacked close by, face out. Defoe, who is hardly unique among authors in keeping a close personal watch on the physical placement of his book, admits he has been known to loiter in bookshops, surreptitiously moving it into more attention-grabbing spots. "But you can't do that for more than two months, or you start to get sick of it," he says. "I'm sure bookshops are massively used to that. They probably just sit there, watching the really obvious author skulking around." Last September, in a further effort to promote the book, Orion's publicity department also made Defoe dress as a pirate and tour London bookshops by rickshaw, autographing their stock. "It was," he recalls, "the most mortifying day of my life."

In poking around the web, we've discovered that Defoe has written a sequel. We've already put it on hold at our library.

Via LISNews.

Posted by Magpie at November 24, 2005 01:47 AM | Miscellaneous | Technorati links |

eek! if the costume concept catches on with publishing companies then the end of the book really is nigh!

Posted by: policybyblog at November 27, 2005 07:18 PM