Crace’s New Novel a Bit of a Pest

The other day, Publisher’s Lunch reported the following deal:

Whitbread and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novelist Jim Crace’s THE PESTHOUSE, to Nan Talese at Nan A. Talese, for publication in May 2007, plus two more novels, by David Godwin at David Godwin Associates.

Being a bit of a Crace fan, I did a bit of digging and learned the following. First off, Crace recently jumped ship to Picador. Shortly after this move, the Guardian suggested, without quoting anybody specific, that Picador may have a plan to give Crace the sales to match his cult audience. Certainly, keeping Crace secure for three books is a step in the right direction. And I’m hoping that it works out for Crace in a way that it didn’t quite work out for Eric Kraft, when Picador had obtained all of Kraft’s Peter Leroy novels.

In a Bookmunch interview, Crace called The Pesthouse “a false historical travel narrative set in the United States about two hundred years from now. The country has fragmented. The machines have stopped. The novel provides America not with a science fiction future but a future which mirrors something that many of its citizens have always wanted and lacked – a medieval “past”, an ancient European experience. How it will turn out is anybody’s guess.”

On his website, Crace himself describes it as “a long, picaresque novel,” suggesting also that The Pesthouse will provide America with “a medieval past.” The book’s first line: “This used to be America.”

The novel, which will be Crace’s first since 2003’s Six, has taken considerable time for Crace to write.

Where She Stops, Nobody Knows!

  • Video game developer Vivendi Universal, in search of a Tom Clancy-style name, has signed a deal to develop games based on Ludlum’s thrillers. Ludlum’s death in 2001 will no doubt ensure creative flexibility (or what’s known in the field as “pillaging in front of a gravestone”).
  • When you run out of television remakes to film, there’s always cheesy 1970s science fiction. The Cell director Tarsem Singh is on tap to remake Westworld. The Governator was originally on board to play the android played by Yul Brynner, but he’s a bit busy. A pity, given that he seems to play machines, whether cinematic or political, quite well.
  • Jim Crace’s The Devil’s Larder has been turned into theatre. Dominic Cavendish says there’s not much to chew on.
  • Christopher Sorrentino’s Trance gets a review in the Mercury News. Sorrentino is accused of being “more impressed with his own voice than the humanity of his characters.”
  • I report this only because Mr. Esposito tortured me by showing me his seven volume Rising Up set the other night. As noted last week by Bookdwarf, this weekend’s NYTBR featured an appearance by the Vollster. He takes on the new Nietzsche bio at length.
  • Newsday chronicles some of the ways that publishers are trying to generate new interest in titles. Many publishers are distributing the first two chapters of a novel. But one teacher by the name of Jackie Spitz remarks, “I only took it because I felt sorry for the people handing it out.” Our heart is all a-trembling over Ms. Spitz’s noble munificence. In fact, as I write these words, I am sobbing into an issue of FHM that I found in my next door neighbor’s trash, watching my tears stream down some beautiful lady bent into an unfortunate position that resembles modular furniture. But I’m also wondering why niche markets and such projects as Vidlit and the LBC aren’t mentioned in the article. When will publishers realize that randomly giving chapters away to ad hoc educators isn’t nearly as effective as targeting people who actually read?
  • Time asks Bret Easton Ellis how “true” Lunar Park is. Apparently, Jay McInerery wasn’t thrilled by his “cameo appearance” as a cokehead buddy.
  • A new book of criticism studying Irvine Welsh’s work is out. But the International Herald Tribune asks if Welsh deserves to be compared with other authors.
  • Is the great rock’n’roll novel at death’s door?
  • The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana: an anti-Proust novel?
  • The Boston Globe examines literary hoaxing.
  • Riverhead editor Sean McDonald talks with Mr. Sarvas.
  • And E.L. Doctorow takes Bush to task, suggesting that Bush does not know what grieving is.


Recent Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee says that television has replaced books as the imaginative impetus for kids. Apparently, he hasn’t heard of Harry Potter.

Is Rick Moody aware of periods?

The New Yorker has a profile on Lucia Joyce, James’ daughter, focusing on Lucia’s efforts to live in the shadow of a paternal genius and her father’s neglect. Lucia Joyce would later spend most of her years in an asylum. Carol Schloss’s book on the matter seems to suggest that Lucia was the price paid for Finnegan’s Wake and that she was instrumental in contributing to its imagery.

Jim Crace on research: “My wife and my editor think I do lots of research. And I encourage them in their delusion as it makes me seem hardworking. But actually I don’t research. I oppose research. What I do is a bit of background reading in order to work out how to tell my lies. I don’t look for information, I look for vocabulary and for the odd little emotional idea that will give some oxygen to my imagination. Vocabulary is the Trojan horse that smuggles the lie. Facts don’t help. If you’re not a persuasive talker at a party, no one’s going to believe you, even if everything you say is true. But if you’re a persuasive liar then everyone is fooled.”

The future of board games? The Boston Globe says Germany.

Hitler’s unpublished second book: “Hitler introduces significant new arguments, notably in relation to the United States, Europe, and, above all, the most crucial area of his foreign policy, relations with Britain, arguments which he had been developing in speeches and articles during 1926?8. ”

More end of the year lists:

The New York Times [The Bottom Line] (user: dr_mabuse, pw: mabuse)
The Washington Post [Fiction] [Nonfiction]
The Chicago Tribune [Best of 2002] (user: dr_mabuse, pw: mabuse)
The Seattle Times [Visual Arts (including The Pop-Up Kama Sutra!)] [Performing Arts] [Classical Arts] [Rock & Roll]
The Christian Science Monitor [Top 5 Fiction] [Top 5 Nonfiction] [Noteworthy Fiction] [Noteworthy Nonfiction]