Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Prestige e-book and some forthcoming title announcements!

We're celebrating the release of our e-book edition of Christopher Priest's The Prestige (1995), which went live yesterday. The book, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the World Fantasy Award and was adapted for a 2006 Christopher Nolan film, has never been out of print in paperback, but for some reason the United States was the only place on earth where you couldn't get it as an e-book. So we fixed that.

Whether you've seen the film version or not, you really should check out the novel. It's brilliantly constructedlike the stage illusions its plot deals withand a very compelling read. As fans of Victorian Gothic works by writers like Wilkie Collins, Bram Stoker, and Richard Marsh, we also enjoyed the book's structure, with multiple narrators and parts of the story told through diaries, etc.

Read all about it over on its book page:

This is the e-book cover by M.S. Corley:

...and, speaking of Christopher Priest, we're delighted to announce that we'll have the honor of publishing three more of his titles in late 2015 or early 2016: The Space Machine (1976), A Dream of Wessex (1977) (the author's revised edition; the book originally came out in the U.S., for some reason, under the title The Perfect Lover), and The Separation (2002), which won both the Arthur C. Clarke and BSFA Awards. The first two will be available in US & Canada; The Separation will be US only.

And we're pleased to welcome a number of new Valancourt authors!

We're extremely excited about Iain Sinclair's highly acclaimed White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings (1987), which weaves two plotlines, one involving shady book dealers in modern-day London and one involving the Jack the Ripper slayings of 1888. Though oft reprinted in the UK (currently by Penguin), Sinclair's novel has curiously never been available in the US. It was the runner-up to that year's Guardian Fiction Prize (his second novel, Downriver, would win both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Encore Award). It's a terrific book, written in a unique, highly poetic prose style, and I found it a most enjoyable and rewarding read.

Russell Hoban (1925-2011) is probably best known for his children's books, but his novel Riddley Walker (1980) is regarded in many circles as a masterpiece, and his other novels—which are often unclassifiable, containing elements of humor, science fiction, fantasy, and even horror—have a large and well-deserved cult following. NYRB Classics recently reprinted his novel Turtle Diary (one of two novels he wrote with no supernatural or fantastic themes), but otherwise his works have been long unavailable in the US & Canada. We're very pleased to report that we'll be reissuing three of his very best—The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973), Kleinzeit (1974) and Pilgermann (1983). We'll post more about all these later on, but for now, some vintage covers:

Here at Valancourt, we publish a lot of good books—and even quite a few great ones—but only a handful are so beautifully done, so compelling, so perfect that they're actually impossible to put down. Philip Ridley's In the Eyes of Mr Fury (1989) is one such novel, and we're very excited to have it as forthcoming. It's a bibliographic oddity: it never had a hardcover edition but went straight into paperback from Penguin as part of their short-lived Penguin Originals series. Also odd is the cover, which doesn't have the title or author's name. The book never appeared at all in the US, so we're thrilled to make it available here for the first time, as well as making it available again in the UK and worldwide. We don't want to run the risk of spoiling anything for you, so we won't say more about this one herejust trust us: do not under any circumstances miss it!

From the oldie-but-goodie category is Nightmares and Geezenstacks (1961) by Fredric Brown, who was great at writing everything from crime novels to sci-fi to horror to.... well, just about anything. This collection was first published as a now-scarce paperback original in 1961 and reprinted in the late 1970s. Both editions are hard to find and because of the pulp-quality materials used, most copies are falling to bits. The 1961 paperback contains 47 stories but is only about 130 pages long: most of the stories are only 1-3 pages long, but though very short, they pack a very powerful punch. Few if any writers are better at the "short short story" than Brown was.

And last, but by no means least, the rediscovery of Hugh Fleetwood's fine novels has been begun by the folks at Faber Finds, who publish his John Llewellyn Rhys Prize-winning The Girl Who Passed for Normal (1974) and several others. We're pleased to add his Foreign Affairs to our list: it's a book that showcases perfectly why the Sunday Times called Fleetwood "the master of modern horror" and illustrates what the Scotsman meant when they wrote "He reaches down and stirs up with venomous delight the nameless, faceless things swimming far below the levels of consciousness." Like Ridley's novel, Fleetwood's will appeal both to those who enjoy our literary fiction offerings as well as those of you specifically interested in our gay-interest titles.

Look for more info on all these titles and authors coming soon, and, as always, we have dozens more titles under consideration or in the works, so expect more announcements soon!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe!

Today marks Edgar Allan Poe's 206th birthday, so we thought we'd celebrate by sharing some interesting stuff from the Valancourt Archives. Back in 2013, we published Andrew Sinclair's The Facts in the Case of E.A. Poe (1979), a brilliant hybrid of fiction and nonfiction that surely ranks as one of the most interesting books on Poe ever written. In order to write the book, Sinclair followed in Poe's footsteps from Richmond to Charlottesville, Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore, and documented his research in two volumes of journals, which he sent to us.  

Poe Cottage, Bronx, NY, where Poe wrote "Annabel Lee"

Poe Park, Bronx, NY

 The Constellation, Baltimore, Maryland. A note in the journals indicates that the bowsprit points to where Poe was found dying.

 The Edgar Allan Poe Society at 512 W. Fayette Street, Baltimore

Poe was originally buried without a headstone; this stone marks the spot of his original grave.

Andrew Sinclair at Poe's tomb.

 Main Street, Richmond, outside the Poe Museum.

 Grave of Poe's mother, Elizabeth Arnold Poe, at St John's Episcopal Churchyard, Broad Street, Richmond

 The Gold Bug Restaurant & Lounge, Sullivan's Island, SC. Poe's story "The Gold Bug" was set on Sullivan's Island.

 Fort Moultrie, where Poe was stationed from Nov. 1827 to Dec. 1828.

"Visit the house where Poe wrote The Raven": Baltimore. In the late 1970s, when Sinclair visited, this neighborhood was particularly bad. When we visited last year, it hadn't improved much.

Hope you enjoyed these photos -- all of them come into play in Sinclair's book, which we hope you'll check out.  It's available in paperback or as a $2.99 ebook (free for Amazon Prime subscribers).

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Top 10 of 2014 List!

Last year, I posted a list of my top 10 favorite Valancourt releases for 2013 ( and got some good responses, so here we go again, my top 10 favorite releases of 2014. Keep in mind, we only publish books we love, and we think all the books we publish are worth reading. But some are a little nearer and dearer to our hearts than others. Without further ado . . .

We reissued five of Colin Wilson's novels in 2013 before his passing in December 2013, and we returned in 2014 committed to keeping his works in print, issuing two more of his novels, Necessary Doubt and The Glass Cage, both of which I enjoyed very much. The Glass Cage is a great read which deals with many of the topics that interested Wilson, in particular existential philosophy and serial murderers. This one will also appeal to fans of our editions of 18th century literature, as the killer leaves a quotation from William Blake at the scene of each crime and the 'detective' is a Blake scholar.

John Blackburn wrote 28 novels, 14 of which we've now published, and every one of them is good. They have original premises and are written in a highly intelligent, literate style, and, what's refreshing, they're never one word too long. Most of them clock in at about 150 pages or less, making them a perfect short read. Blackburn's books vary in tone: the earlier ones are fairly straight-up suspense thrillers; some of the later ones, particularly those featuring Bill Easter, approach parody. But for a period in the middle, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Blackburn wrote some very good horror novels, and this one is by far the darkest and grimmest. I won't give away any major plot surprises, but like the best of Blackburn's books, this one features a modern-day updating of a medieval legend (in this case, the story of Elizabeth Bathory, the Hungarian countess rumored to have slaughtered girls and bathed in their blood). It's a terrific read, and if you've never given Blackburn a shot before, this is the one to start with.

Our efforts to revive the reputation of Claude Houghton continued in 2014 with the release of his first novel, Neighbours (1926), which had been out of print since, well, 1926, probably. Though it's not on a par with I Am Jonathan Scrivener (1930) or This Was Ivor Trent (1935), it's still a brilliant read. The premise is intriguing: an author takes a room in the attic of a boarding house, seeking privacy and quiet. But he finds unexpectedly that he has a neighbour on the other side of the wall, whose every conversation he can hear. As time goes on, his eavesdropping on his neighbour's life turns into an obsession. In the hands of a lesser writer, this wouldn't work for a 200 page novel, but somehow Houghton pulls it off. If you haven't read Houghton yet, don't start with this one: try one of the others. But if you find that you like the style of his metaphysical, psychological thrillers, you'll enjoy this one as well.

This extraordinary novel was much compared to Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, presumably because they're both very long books dealing with tuberculosis patients in sanatoriums. I haven't read the Mann book, so I don't know how apt the comparisons are, but Ellis's first and only novel is remarkable and well worth reading. It earned near-universal praise in England when first published and was reprinted off and on as a Penguin Modern Classic but had fallen out of print by some point in the 1990s. For me, the book's brilliance is in its gallows humour: though the painful and dehumanizing medical procedures the hero undergoes are horrific to read about, the novel is infused throughout with some of the blackest humour you'll find in a novel. It's an exquisitely written book and one only wishes Ellis (pseudonym of Derek Lindsay) had written others.

During his brief career, James Kennaway published several astonishingly good novels and also wrote a number of award-winning screenplays. Unfortunately, he died way too young, dying on the M4 motorway at age 40 around Christmas, 1968, as he was driving home from having drinks with his friend Peter O'Toole. This novel, published posthumously, may be his masterpiece. For my money, opening lines don't get much better than this: 'They were painting the gothic corridors of the railway hotel when the economist arrived. It was about six o’clock in the evening, early in May, which is no time to die, and it had been raining heavily.' Time Magazine summed up the novel as 'a hard little book about dying', which seems fair. The protagonist, dying of lung cancer, has only a short time left to live. His wife, knowing the prognosis, can't help but look on her husband as a sort of walking corpse: any kind of normal relationship between them has become impossible, since she knows he may die at any time. Seeking to live to the fullest in the short time he has left, he embarks on an affair with a teenage girl, who, not knowing of his illness, is free to imagine they have a future together. Like the crab clawing at his insides, he claws desperately for life, and just as the cancer is consuming him, he becomes cancerous to everyone around him, ruining their lives in his single-minded quest to enjoy his own. It's a powerful short novel that demands to be read -- his style is unique and the book is unforgettable.

The Elementals has been by far our most popular book this year. It doesn't quite outsell all the rest of our catalogue put together, but it certainly seems to be trying to. Poppy Z. Brite has called it 'surely the most terrifying novel ever written', and plenty of the online reviews echo that sentiment: readers seem to find it genuinely terrifying. I think I'm just too jaded from having seen so many horror movies and TV shows and read so many horror books over the years, but I didn't find the book particularly scary. But I still loved it. McDowell is a terrific writer: his fortes are dialogue (which is always pitch-perfect, particularly in his rendering of dialect), setting, and characterization. Most horror novels have a cast of throwaway characters who don't serve much purpose except as fodder for the killer: they're indistinguishable from one another, and the dialogue could just as easily be spoken by any one of them. After the book's finished, you probably won't remember a single one of them. Not in McDowell's books, and especially not in this one. India (a precursor of Lydia in McDowell's later Beetlejuice script) and her father Luker, the alcoholic Big Barbara, the maid Odessa Red, each of the characters really comes to life and practically leaps off the page. If I wasn't terrified by the story, I was nonetheless carried along by it: the first two-thirds or so of the book move at a fairly leisurely pace, leading up to the real horror towards the end, but it's never dull for a moment and keeps you turning the pages. We're thrilled to be continuing the Michael McDowell rediscovery in 2015 with three more of his novels. If you're a horror fan, these are must-reads, but even if you normally don't read horror books, you'll find plenty to admire in the writing of McDowell, who is a very fine writer indeed.

This one's cheating a bit, since it's actually being published Jan. 6, 2015, but since we spent a lot of time working on it this year (and since this is my list and I can do what I want with it), I'm putting on here. Until recently, like many readers in the U.S., I didn't have a particularly clear idea who Christopher Priest was and what his books were like. I'd heard of The Prestige, of course, and seen the Christopher Nolan film, but otherwise, I didn't know much about Priest. This is probably in part due to the fact that most of his books have been unavailable in the U.S. for many years. The neglect of his works here in the U.S. is surprising, since all his books are in print in the UK, where he has won many major awards; they're also all available in various European translations (he's also won major awards in France, Germany, etc.) When I stumbled upon an old copy of The Affirmation, I knew from the jacket blurb that this was the sort of novel I'd love: it's a book that blends and transcends genres -- not exactly SF, not exactly fantasy, not exactly a thriller -- and features an intriguing premise and a very clever literary mindgame that will make you want to reread the book as soon as you've finished it, just so you can see how it was all done. An extremely enjoyable, page-turning read, and we're excited to be offering it. 

Speaking of books that don't fit easily into genres (most of ours don't), this is another: equal parts fantasy, political thriller, autobiography, and nostalgia, Lord Dunsany's The Curse of the Wise Woman is one of the best books I read all year. In fact, both of us here at Valancourt Books would rank this among our top reads for 2014. It's temping to say that the fantasy aspects concerning Tir-nan-Og, the land of eternal youth, or the supernatural parts with the 'wise woman' (witch) are the most interesting, but I found myself engrossed even with the parts of the book dealing with Irish political intrigue or hunting foxes and geese on the bog. His prose here is, as always, mellifluous, and the book is charming and delightful throughout. If you haven't read Dunsany before, or if you read some of his early short stories and they weren't for you, give this one a shot: you're almost certain to like it.

This book is about 400 pages long, but it doesn't feel like it. You'll wish it had been double the length. John Wain's books are always good (Hurry on Down and The Smaller Sky were favourites of mine from our 2013 list), but this one is really something special. The plot, which is simple enough, involves an English linguist, Roger Furnivall, who spends a winter in Wales to learn the language and gets caught up in a local dispute in which a large corporation is attempting to put all the local bus operators out of business. The last holdout is Gareth, a taciturn hunchback, and Roger determines to interfere and help Gareth save his bus route and his livelihood from the encroaching forces of corporate greed. It's hard for me to say why I liked the book so much. The plot is all right, the writing is of course solid, but somehow it's a book that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. I think perhaps it has to do with the unusual earnestness with which Wain writes: it's hard not to root for him, and for his characters. Very highly recommended. (As an aside, I'd love to hear from anyone who reads this one and who has also read one of my favourite Valancourt releases of 2012, John Trevena's Sleeping Waters [1913], which also involved an Englishman arriving as an outsider in a small Celtic town and interfering with local business affairs, and also featured a hunchback...)

This book is so good that it's almost unthinkable that its inclusion on this list is owing entirely to an accident of fate. Here in Richmond we have a thrift store that benefits the gay community center; I stumbled upon an old copy of the book there, never having heard of it. But from the publisher's blurb and the rave reviews on the cover from Iris Murdoch, Christopher Isherwood, Angus Wilson, and others, it was immediately evident that this was a book we needed to republish. Tracking down the estate took a considerable amount of detective work, but was well worth it, as this was my favourite book of ours this year. Set in a boys' boarding school (based on the Irish school that Campbell himself attended, and peopled with characters that were easily recognizable as Campbell's teachers and schoolfellows), the book focuses on two characters, both struggling with their attractions for members of the same sex. One is Eric Ashley, a former pupil of the school, now returned to teach there, and who is tormented by his attraction to young men. The other is Carleton, a student, who is in love with Allen, a boy a year younger. Meanwhile, with the school declining in quality, a new headmaster, Crabtree, has been brought in, and he is determined to stamp out any homosexual conduct in the school. (His efforts, though, are thoroughly misguided and often lead to hilarious disaster, as when he arranges for a girls' school to visit for the day). But it would be unfair to call this a 'gay' novel: as Iris Murdoch blurbs, it's really a novel about love. And though of course infused with sadness and even tragedy, the book is also very, very funny in parts. Like the Wain novel, it's about 400 pages, but again, not a page too long. It's a beautiful book and not to be missed.

What about you? What were your favourite Valancourt releases this year? We'd love to hear from you!

Friday, December 5, 2014

A bit of bad news....

We hate to be the harbingers of bad news, especially during the holiday season, but we've received some really disturbing news from Amazon that we have to pass along. 

Effective Jan. 1, Amazon will begin charging VAT on e-books based on the buyer's country. Up until now, they've charged 3% VAT, which is the rate in Luxembourg, where Amazon EU is based. Beginning Jan. 1, e-books in the UK will be subject to a 20% tax instead of 3%. In Ireland, it's an appalling 23%.

Amazon has notified us that if we leave our e-book prices the same, Amazon will simply take the 20% out of the royalties it pays us. As it is, on most sales, Amazon keeps about 31% for itself; under our contracts, the author gets 25-30%. The little bit that's left goes to cover our costs for cover art, proofreading, digitization and conversion to MOBI and EPUB formats, and other costs, and a tiny profit to keep the lights on here at Valancourt Towers and keep new books coming out. Thus, on a given e-book, we get about 40% of the retail price. Under the new scheme, this would drop by half -- 20% going to VAT and the slender 20% that remains going to us. As a very, very, very, very small operation, we cannot possibly absorb a 50% decrease in our already modest revenues.

Therefore, unless the UK and other EU governments take action in the very near future to resolve this mess, we will be forced to raise our e-book prices in the UK and EU countries by as much as 20%. The UK's VAT on e-books is especially absurd, since the UK charges a 0% tax on print books.

We regret very much the prospect of increasing prices on UK/EU e-books, particularly since the entire raison d'ĂȘtre behind Valancourt Books has always been to make books available to everyone at the most affordable prices possible, but unfortunately, this issue is beyond our control.... 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

An update on a bunch of forthcoming releases

The year is rapidly winding down, but things are still in full swing at Valancourt Towers, where we're working on tons and tons (and tons) of new stuff that will be out over the next couple months. We did a quick tour of the factory today to see what our resident Valancourt gnomes are churning out on the presses, and here is some of what they're working on:

Lusignan; or, The Abbaye of La Trappe (1801), Anonymous (edited by Jacqui Howard).  

This four-volume Minerva Press Gothic is exceedingly rare, with the only known copy surviving at Corvey Castle, in Germany, where an early-nineteenth-century Prince of Corvey was an avid reader of English Gothic literature. Jacqui Howard, who has previously edited Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) for Penguin Classics, provides an introduction and notes. Prof. Howard has previously made the argument that this scarce novel and another, The Orphans of Llangloed, could in fact be the product of Radcliffe herself, who famously disappeared after the publication of The Italian in 1797. Maybe she found it harder to put down her pen than she thought, and continued to publish anonymously . . . ?

The chapel scenes in which the fainting Emily beholds the ghastly spectre are well done and are sure to please any fan of Gothic Literature.

Anthology of Graveyard Poetry, edited by Jack G. Voller

This groundbreaking new volume contains the best and most influential of the poetry of the so-called 'Graveyard School', which arose in mid-18th-century England and became a literary phenomenon; it also went on to have a major impact on the development of Gothic fiction in the 1790s and afterwards. This collection includes important works by Robert Blair ('The Grave'), Edward Young ('Night Thoughts on Death'), Thomas Gray ('Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard') and many more, and also features many lesser-known women poets. Editor Professor Jack G. Voller, who previously edited the chapbook The Veiled Picture for Valancourt and who runs the Literary Gothic website, provides an introduction and notes. A must-have for scholars and students of 18th century literature as well as anyone interested in the development of Gothic literature or those who like their reading on the morbid side....

Jaspar Tristram (1899) by A. W. Clarke, new introduction by A. D. Harvey

One of the earliest English public school novels, this was the only novel by Clarke, and it's an unusual one. Few novels (perhaps none) up to that point had gone into so much psychological depth in portraying the character of a schoolboy. As readers of the other public school novels we've published (The Fourth of June, Lord Dismiss Us, Never Again) will expect, the hero, Jaspar, conceives a passionate friendship for another boy at the school. Arnold Harvey contributes a new introduction.

The Tom Barber Trilogy (1931-1944) by Forrest Reid, new introductions by Andrew Doyle

We previously reissued Reid's classic trilogy as a two-volume hardcover set in 2011, but now the three volumes will be available individually as paperbacks, and, for the first time, as e-books! Each volume includes a new introduction by Dr Andrew Doyle, as well as never-before-seen photographs and archival materials from the Forrest Reid Collection at Queens University Belfast, and striking new cover designs by Henry Petrides, which have been getting rave reviews. Highlights include Uncle Stephen (1931), whose importance as a work of the fantastic and supernatural is signaled by its previous inclusion in Tartarus Press's prestigious series and which has been called a masterpiece by E.M. Forster, and Young Tom (1944), which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (that era's equivalent of the Booker) for best novel of that year. If you've never read Reid, now's a great time to start!

A Hair Divides (1930), Chaos Is Come Again (1932), Julian Grant Loses His Way (1933) by Claude Houghton

If you haven't read any of the three incredible books we've already published by Houghton (1889-1961) (I Am Jonathan Scrivener, This Was Ivor Trent, and Neighbours), close this browser window, stop reading this blog, and get over to Amazon or your local library to get a copy of his masterpiece, I Am Jonathan Scrivener, which we published with a foreword by Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Michael Dirda, and read it immediately! A contemporary reviewer in 1930 said the book was impossible to put down; nothing has changed: it's still impossible to put down.  

Once you've finished that one, and the other two we've published, you're going to be demanding more, which is why we're reissuing three more of his neglected classics. Houghton was very widely praised by his fellow authors during his time (J.B. Priestley, Hugh Walpole, L.A.G. Strong, Clemence Dane, and many others, were admirers, as was Henry Miller, who had a years-long, impassioned correspondence with Houghton), but never found the readership he deserved during his lifetime or even after his death. We're trying to change that with our continuing program of reissuing his books; the best of the new trio is probably Julian Grant Loses His Way, a remarkable work of the fantastic. The book opens with Julian Grant finding himself in London one foggy morning without any clear idea of where he's been or where he's going. After he ducks into a cafe to collect his thoughts over a cocktail, he is assailed by memories and images from his past. As his story unfolds, it becomes clear something very strange is going on. Is he suffering from some sort of mental disturbance or amnesia? Has he become trapped in some kind of dream world? Or is there an even more chilling explanation for the weird situation in which he finds himself?

All three will feature their original jacket art (these are unrestored versions):

The Black Cloud (1957) by Fred Hoyle; new introduction by Geoffrey Hoyle

Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) was a brilliant and influential scientist whose work in astronomy and astrophysics has had an enduring impact in those fields, but he was also a popular science fiction novelist. In the new foreword to this edition of his first novel, The Black Cloud, his son Geoffrey, also a sci-fi novelist, recounts that when one of Hoyle's colleagues was surprised to see him reading a lowbrow science fiction novel, Hoyle replied: “I have a purpose in mind. These people don’t know any real science and they make money by writing this stuff. I, who know some science, should be able to do much better.”

And so he did. The Black Cloud is a landmark of British science fiction, a work of what is known as "hard SF": books grounded in scientific fact in which the apparently improbable events could in fact actually happen. But don't be misled: though it contains a healthy dose of science and fact, Hoyle's book is no snoozer: the plot involves the advent of a gigantic black cloud the size of Jupiter that arrives in our solar system and blocks out the Sun's light, causing unimaginable destruction and the possibility of the extinction of all life on earth. It's a thrilling apocalyptic read that has long been recognized as a classic in the UK, where it's never been out of print and is now part of Penguin's Modern Classics series. We're very pleased to bring this great book back to print in the U.S. for the first time in four decades.

The Affirmation (1981) by Christopher Priest, new introduction by the author

Christopher Priest has been a major figure in British SF for many years now, though whether you classify his works as SF or fantasy, they're also excellent literary fiction. For some reason, until recently, he hasn't caught on as much in the States: two of his best novels, The Affirmation (1981) and The Glamour (1985), came out in hardcover over here but quickly fell out of print and never made it to paperback. A couple years back, NYRB Classics began the important work of a Priest revival, reissuing the classic The Inverted World (1974), and we're very glad to continue the process with this reissue, to which the author provides a new introduction.

The Affirmation is a book about the nature of reality: what is "true", and how can we really be certain that it's true? It opens with a young Londoner, Peter Sinclair, down-and-out after losing his father, his girlfriend, his job, and his flat all at roughly the same time. Trying to figure out where things went wrong, he begins to write an autobiography. But though it captures the facts of his life literally, it somehow misses the essential truth of his experiences. So he rewrites it, changing names and fictionalizing certain events. Meanwhile, we meet another Peter Sinclair, a native of Jethra, who has just won the grand prize in a lottery: a trip to the Dream Archipelago, where he will undergo a procedure that confers immortality on him. The catch: it will also erase his memory. So he, too, sets out to write his autobiography, in order to recapture the memories following the procedure. As their two stories seem to overlap, intersect, and intertwine, the lines of truth and reality blur: is one Peter the fictional creation of the other? Are both real? Or neither? Priest pulls off a brilliant literary mindgame that will keep you turning the pages and will have you anxious to reread it once you reach the surprising end. I loved every page of this one and hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

The Devil's Own Work (1991) by Alan Judd; new intro by Owen King; new afterword by the author

Like Christopher Priest, Alan Judd was one of the original Granta Best Young British Novelists chosen in 1983, and like Priest's novel, Judd's book has received somewhat less than its due here in the U.S. When first published in 1991, The Devil's Own Work was a major critical success, winning the UK's Guardian Fiction Prize and garnering outstanding reviews from every major critic in the U.S. The Vintage paperback edition even boasted a glowing quote from Stephen King, calling it the best book he'd read all year.

Judd's novella is the story of an aspiring writer, Edward, who -- depending on how you read it -- sacrifices either his artistic integrity or perhaps even his immortal soul in exchange for popular acclaim and success. Edward's friend, the narrator, pieces together the story of Edward's meteoric rise: it involves the death of a respected, elderly writer, an inscrutable and possibly cursed manuscript, and a beautiful, seemingly ageless woman. Whether read as chilling supernatural horror in the Faustian tradition or as an allegory and satire on modern literary culture, it's a terrific book, which we're very pleased to be offering. Owen King contributes a great new introduction (his father, a little-known scribe, contributed an intro to our edition last year of The Monk), while the author has written a new afterword, explaining how the novella arose out of his research on Ford Madox Ford and a strange meeting with Graham Greene.

Matchbox Theatre (2015) by Michael Frayn

Increasingly often, we're approached -- often by well-known and well-respected authors -- about the possibility of publishing a brand-new, original work. Usually we say no: as much fun as it would be to publish new material, we've carved out a little niche for our reissues of neglected classics, and our small size limits us from taking on anything too ambitious. But in the process of acquiring U.S. rights to five of Michael Frayn's classic novels originally published between 1965-1973, the opportunity came along to publish his new book and we couldn't pass it up. It's not every day a small operation like ours has the chance to publish a book by an author whose last three were all Booker Prize nominees and who's regarded by many as one of the best playwrights of our time.

Published in October by Faber in the UK, where it's already getting rave reviews, the US edition will be out from us in February. It contains thirty short pieces -- call them plays, playlets, sketches, monologues, or, as the author does, simply "entertainments" -- and, as you'd expect from the author of Noises Off and Skios, it's riotously funny. It also features a wonderful wraparound vintage-matchbox-inspired cover and interior illustrations by M.S. Corley.

That's it for now, but keep watching this space and our website and Facebook pages, as we continue to add more and more great titles to our offerings!