The Man Between the Woman in the Window

Man_Between-front_largeOne of the reasons The Woman in the Window took so long to finish is that I was always working on other things at the same time. I think all seven of the books I’ve translated came out during the time I was writing WiW, suggesting that it might be a very good thing for my translation work to start on another long book project! (Why this is so I’m not exactly sure, but I’ve made a mental note and plan to verify at the first opportunity.)

I’m not going to list the many other projects that germinated and in some instances matured during the same period–it helps me to think of this as a period–because doing so would probably make me feel tired, but one project has the opposite effect. It makes me feel warm and inspired, and it is a volume I co-edited on the life and work of Michael Henry Heim, which is called The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim & a Life in Translation.

Heim was my teacher at UCLA, a dear friend, and an academic father for me and many others. He served as a role model translator and public intellectual. His English title for Milan Kundera’s book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a title he fought for against the wishes of the American publisher and the author, serves as the basis for this blog’s subtitle. My variation is just one of hundreds that are currently searchable online, a fact that Sean Cotter, one of the co-editors for the book, has written about at Words without Borders.

Sean and our other co-editor, Esther Allen, put a lot of work into the book, and whatever success it might have is due to their efforts, and of course those of our publisher, the indefatigable Chad Post at Open Letter Books, who first wrote about the project at Three Percent. It will come out, like WiW in October of this year. (I don’t think it is possible to plan to have two books come out in the same month at two different publishers, one beginning with “The Woman…,” the other with “The Man…,” but if there’s a publicist reading this who might find it a happy coincidence, please feel free to drop me a line.)

There will be multiple launches, which are in the works–one at the annual ALTA conference in November, another in New York in, we think, April. Possibly another before that, also in NY, in December. This is a book for anyone who likes to read books about how books are born, especially books that were not born in English until someone like Heim worked his magic.

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books

Oh, I do, I do like books. One of my favorite scenes: the narrator of Bohumil Hrabal’s Too Loud a Solitude (in Michael Henry Heim’s English translation) contemplating the prospect of being killed by the mass of literature that hangs above his bed tumbling down upon him in his sleep. This is not my fantasy! But it is a fascinating, compelling image, being swallowed up by one’s passion, the thing that has been consuming one already in effect since the age of, what, eleven? a precocious 8? a tardy 17? It’s never too late to be consumed! You can always look forward to the avalanche coming down upon your head in the future. Perhaps this was the inspiration for the paper blob commercial from the 1980s, though I don’t understand why they needed the Alexander Nevsky theme music.

I’ve written a new book! It took me a long time, like twelve years or so. I actually finished it almost two years ago. This, I think, is a very good thing. I wouldn’t have wanted the book I finished almost two years ago to come out fast. It would have been too soon. I’ll be blogging about it here, along with some other stuff.