February read: Arjun and the Good Snake
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Yesterday, M. de Curcio suggested I get a Paypal account so as to make the book available to overseaers. I began the process. It all seemed too easy. It was, in fact, a dun deal, when a friend warned me that in Slovenia one cannot withdraw money from a PP account. so I called PP (they are in Luxembourg, which, for a number of reasons should raise the hackles of suspicion), had a long and lovely conversation with a PP exppert who assured me that it was not the least a problem to withdraw from the account and even offered to immediately email me with the simple step bystep details by which to do so. I verily leapt to my computer...where I found a long email that described the process quite clearly for how one withdraws from PP in Slovakia. Common mistake. Even Baby Bush made it. But I called PP again to be sure. Turns out that in Slovenia there is but one way to withdraw from PP, and that is with a VISA card, which I did not have. Do not have. Will have in two weeks. When I went to my bank, as soon as i asked if it would be possible (I had a case of the low hopes because we have a very low limit on the card we have, and several years of negative balance-ing). But as soon as I mentioned VISA a banker breached her partition and said 'Paypal?', and it will all be all right--in two weeks I get the card and if PP allows me to alter my account by changing cards, the process will be simple.
Point two is price. Books are expensive here, for one thing. Secondly, mine was made expensively because the publisher chose to honor my manuscript to the point where inserted photos were left where they were, which means that every page is color photo quality paper. The price here is 24 euros. I have a deal with the publisher to sell at 20 for various discounts that include poverty, near poverty, and the many reasons for lacking substantial disposable income. BUT: even at 20, with the 7.8 euro or so flight ticket to the US, the book comes to about 40 dollars. This is too much. I could give a sales pitch about the perhaps signed copy of a limited edition but it is still too much. I think I could reduce it to 34 with the blessing of the publisher, but I am going to call him today and ask about 30.
Please contribute any manner of opinion.
Is it a first edition ? Not price clipped ? No foxing ? in original dustwrapper ? Signed by the author with a kind inscription ?
Mac--you're easy. I have friends in Hooileart (sp?), just outside Bruxytown. Even delivery may be free. What is 'price clipped'? First edition? Indeed. In fact first Harsch book publication since early 2000s French version of The Sleep of Aborigines. But you aren't Walloon, are you?
Atlas out: Hoeilaart.
Wait: do I remember right? Liege? Could be Walloon. Looks like a French name, surrounded by a lot of French name towns...Not north, not south....Damn near Dutch enclave Maastricht, nasty place with big ideas that. Which brings Schengen to mind, fucking blight on Yurp...
Foxing? Used to know, forgot, so, and what is foxing?
Signings vary according to mood, always intent is, let's say, positive.
I'm in. Will they be signed by the actual author, or is that extra?
The price does not bother me. But I note that once you factor in the difference between this and the ebook, http://www.amazon.com/Arjun-Good-Snake-ebook/dp/B00514IZDO, you've got most of the purchase price toward the cheap-o kindle covered, so I'll do the ebook.
Call me backward, but I refuse to own an e-book reader. I will pay for the signed actual book!
So I guess it depends on whether my hints about the Kindle Fire are heeded or not. I'd kinda still prefer a hard copy, but will go for the ebook if it's easier for our author-in-residence.
Ricky, I am from Flanders, not Walloon, don't let yourself be fooled by ze French accent.
But if you have a connection to Hoeilaert, I should not bother about sending costs either or...
>9 oh, Rick, I feel a sick worry in the pit of my ideology that I've been tangentially involved in a process culminating in your acquiring a visa card. (since without me cheaping out and demanding we read the book I already gots, we could all be happily ordering Billy Verite. Buc-buc is merely a straw in the foetid wind of this karmic debt.
But I, and especially Talia, regard our signed copies often with affection.
I am in also for a signed (or not, depending on Rick's mood) non-e real book. Yay!
I will be picking up the book one way or the other in time for the read. Personalish question, if I may. Do you or the publisher care if it is a hard or e- book, financially or for any other reasons? Are your and its interests the same?
Thanks for the interest. I forgot about the e-book, probably assuming most of you would be hardcopers. Urania already bought the e-book. So, yes that one's long been available. and the plan was to have the hard copy on Amazon UK long ago.
In my interest is this very process. financially it can only matter slowly, with resonance...
I would buy the hard cover at a lower price. I don't like e-bookreading either. But you can hardly be expected to toss 30 or more dollars at a piece of shit. so maybe i'll post the blurbs for your eddyfication and fun.
(Now that it's out in the open I can say that I don't get a cent from any purchases of my other books as though the first made up its advance the others didn't and my fiscally dim agent made some sort of deal linking the fates of all three books. So all the French money went to the publisher, etc.)
Is that how the paypal works? I privy my email?
If that's the case, first here are the charges:
20 euros within Europe (one of the discounts surely covers all of you)
30 or 34 dollars outside Europe, readers choice. Maybe start with 30 and add 4 if you think it was worth it.
And of course I will sign all of them if that doesn't seem too pretentious.
This is all very modern yet disturbingly rudimentary.
This is the most measured of five blurbs:
"The moving and utter honesty of this story of the narrator—and his son’s—Quixotic quest for a Russell’s viper in the wild is matched only by the wealth of mythology, history, philosophy, and natural history that run like streams of story through ARJUN AND THE GOOD SNAKE. Underlying all this is the touching gentleness of the relationship at the core of the novel, father and son, and the personal demons the father must fight in order to safeguard that relationship. In this fine literary memoir that takes often strays gleefully into fascinating asides, the narrator’s journey—from the first impolite injunction by his two-year-old son to tales of terrorist (or revolutionary) monkeys to the final showdown with the ever-elusive cobra—is compelling all the way. A rich and rewarding tour de force; highly recommended."
Prasenjit Gupta, author of A Brown Man
This is the funniest:
Arjun and the Good Snake is a unique book from father to son, as such it is a book from one generation to another, from one human to another, where it fails (what it omits, for Rick could not include all) Arjun like every reader must continue with the same, if not greater diligence Rick exhibited by writing to his son about India (consequently the Raj), about snakes (consequently their habitats), about Slovenian wine (consequently its drinkers), about... Just as life isn’t about one individual person, literature isn’t about one book, about one writer, about one reader, but without this one book, its writer, and its intended reader, Literature would be less for Literature is a progression towards humanity-where by western terms we hope to achieve an existence nearer moral than not. Read this so you need not fear Neruda's prophesy of doom, read this book so that you know at least one child in a coming generation might be equipped with the knowledge (herein) his father willfully gave with love and the hope for humanity rather than the dreadful filthy polyps within the exposed mesopygion of this collective toiling ass.
Finally, as a reader this excerpt would justify MY investment. The second appendix, it truly is an appendage, and ends the book:
I re-established my relationship with my agent with the original manuscript of this memoir. He read half and promised to get back with some suggestions within two weeks, but after many months I had not heard from him. A writer I know convinced me that this editor’s talent is such that he requires coddling on the part of the writer to the extent that we must not ever write to him, no matter how late he is reading a book or a revision he requested, because then he feels guilt and anger at himself, which is unsustainable and must be converted to anger at the cause of his guilt, the importunate writer.
So I shut up and refrained from writing him, and he finally called me. He was feeling awfully ashamed. I said he should not be ashamed — I was told to wait and I did so. After his promises were all broken no timeline was valid: He was not, in effect, late at all. He was overtly grateful, enough to promise to read the book the weekend following the one nearly upon us the day he called.
I sent the finished manuscript on a Tuesday. On the following Monday he would call and tell me he was ready to sell the book. My son would soon see the book I wrote for him.
That Monday arrived. I experienced the terrible void, the one without the howling maelstrom. I wrote him. He called to be sure I was not going to pieces. He said he had started and would be finished the next day or the day following. I waited three days. I wrote him. I went to wait it out with Kolopivo at Pod Figo (Under the Fig) (since burned to the ground), where the beer is cheaper than anywhere else in town.
When I returned home there was no message waiting for me. I broke down and called him. He was unavailable to take my call. An hour later I called again, and he was still unavailable. The third call was about an hour later again, and I was informed that he would not be taking my calls.
Noting the early tremors of my coming eruption, my wife, Sasikala, called him to ask why he was putting me through this torture. He hung up on her after telling her I need an agent who can keep his promises.
There was an impersonal resignation letter of two lines waiting in my computer.
My initial response to my former agent was intemperate, and, in fact, one friend who read the note felt that it could be conceived to be an actual death threat in that it referred to itself as one, and he urged me to retract it. The following is the clarification sent to my former agent, here published at the behest of my editor, an ardent admirer of Hunter S. Thompson:
Dear (esteemed agent),
It has come to my attention that some of what I wrote to you might actually be considered a real threat, and I want you to know that of course as a writer of satire and noir I was only practicing my trade.
Of course I would never want you to be looking over your shoulder wondering whether a disgruntled writer would crack your skull with a baseball bat or stick a knife in your spine to disable you before cutting your throat in the elevator of your building. That would truly be awful, for we are both fathers, and, as I know, you made every effort to do right by my son and just could not manage. I would not deprive your children of a father. I simply take a joke too far. Sorry about that, and please do not fear my coming at you with a baseball bat to your skull or a knife to your spine (before slitting your throat). I am not that type of man, and in fact some of the violence my characters engage in sickens me — I cannot stand when they take a bat to a skull or a knife to a spine prefatory to slitting a throat.
In fact, though I know you have officially, and tenderly at that, resigned as my agent, I still would love for you to read my novel “Kramberger with Monkey, or Still Life,” for despite the lack of baseball bats and knives to spines, there is much blood and humor, which I know to be to your taste.
If you are interested, please let me know, and I will send you that novel — it’s all about assassination, but only as satire, and there is no glee or satisfaction taken in the manner of deaths. Plus none happen in New York, none with a baseball bat to the back of your head or any other head, and no knives to your spine or any other spine.
I hope this puts you at ease. You do know, of course, from your experience with fiction writers, that we have a hard time turning off the imagination, and so if I seem to imagine bashing in your skull with a baseball bat or catching you in your elevator and knifing you in the spine prefatory to slitting your throat, it is only that fictional part of me, that irrepressible free fictional spirit in me, giving you the blood and tension that I have come to know you enjoy in a novel.
All the best,
I still have the pdf you sent me early part of this year. I'll begin reading off that unless revisions were made since then, and I shouldn't? I'm an unmitigated autograph hound, so if you can truly stomach my U.S. dollars, I'll be glad to send you some for an autographed, first printing of Arjun and the Good Snake -- touchstoned since no one had yet done so and, truth be told, I've a fetish for touchstones.
I think the pdf was virtually the final version, so Peter if you send me your email i'll send it to you. if anything is missing, like prologue or epilogue or appendix I will send those separately.
Etta, I have no aversion to dollars, but throughout my life there has been evidence of their antipathy to me.
The first deal has been made and here is what I know: you can find me on Paypal, Lisa did. they send me an email with buyer's comments appended. If the buyer gives me an address I mail the book. So it's good to make sure I get your address.
My publisher said I could mail the book cheaper than airmail (8.29 euros), but I asked at the post office today, sending Lisa her book, and I can send it for 6 something, but the catch is that it may or may not go airmail. so it could take exactly the same amount of time or up to three months.
I hope this is the last dull message of this type on this thread.
That was not the last dull message. The European price is now 24 euros: I just got back from the post office. The fiends. we will split the cost, me and customer.
No, but it cost 6.54 (not including envelope) euros, which seems absurd for the short overland trip from here to Belgium. that's the same price I could have sent yours with the proviso that it might get there in 7 to 10 days or 2 to 3 months.
So I raised the price back to the cover price, but including postage and paypal costs and whatever. The strain of walking to the post office, writing the correct address...
Oddly, on Paypal I have 34 dollars, and 18.97 euros, though the secret Belgian buyer sent 20.
The only REALLY irritating thing about all this is that my original conception of myself as an author was a steady producer of cheap paperbacks.
I think if my publisher agrees, my new plan will be to sell most or all of the original 300, and then put out as cheap a quality paperback as possible. THEN get on Amazon UK, maybe even US (have to find a warehouse).
More dull stuff: My non-Italian books are available on the various amazons, in England, France, the U.S., etc., and thus I can send you a copy, for instance, from England, and avoid the greater postage costs of having it sent from the U.S. Have you checked to see if Abebooks carry your books? They're all over the place.
i need to pick up an English copy of your first book, Peter, but please leave that to me.
right now i'm not concerned about the first three novels as sales of them bring me nothing and I am in sore need of making a living. I will see if the rights have reverted back to me in case there's a chance of re-publishing them.
i'll look into abe, though--thanks
More dull stuff:
Since I managed to do this successfully, Rick asked me to post the process for using PayPal to order his book. Since I am in the U.S., I cannot say that this is exactly the same everywhere.
For those who want to order Arjun from Rick using PayPal, you will need to set up your own PayPal account if you do not have one. You need an e-mail address and it is simple and it is secure. You can set it up to use a bank account or debit or credit cards to remit your payment. One thing that I found a bit odd at the beginning was they way they confirm the validity of the accounts. They post small amounts to the account(s) within a day or so and you have to go to your account or card statement, find the amounts and then let PayPal know what the amounts were. The accounts are then confirmed and you can use them to send or receive money through PayPal with no further verification. PayPal also reverses the amounts posted to your account(s).
I must admit that I do not remember if I could send money without going through the verification process described above because I set up my account a long time ago.
Once you set up the account, to send money to Rick, you just tell PayPal that you want to send it to Slovenia and decide what currency you want to use. You also have the choice of saying you are buying something or that you are sending money to "friends and family". If you say you are buying something they charge the other party. If you say you are sending it to friends/family, they charge you. The fee is based upon the amount sent and whether the money is sent from a bank account or by a credit/debit card. Fees for bank accounts are very small (17 cents on $34) but a bit higher with a card ($1.63 on $34)
The notifications are done by e-mail so you put in your e-mail address and Rick's e-mail address. No bank account or credit card information is transmitted by e-mail.
Once you choose currency, set dollar amount, etc, the next page allows you to send a message in the e-mail that tells the recipient that he has received money through PayPal. Send the message (and the money) and you get a notice in your e-mail in-box and Rick gets the notice in his e-mail in-box.
I hope this helps anyone who might have had questions. If not, I qualify this offer with the caveat that I am not an expert, but I will try to answer other questions.
The verification process doesn't prevent the transactions, by the way (I think I found out).
But let me use this moment to say one thing: IN ADVERTISING CAPS: THE NEXT 20 BOOKS GO OUT WITH A FREE TITO LIGHTER INCLUDED! why can't i cap the !?
>31 Talia will sell bucbuc down the river in a second for a free Tito lighter, just so you know.
I have received a copy and I can affirm that it is one handsome book. It looks and feels consistent with its price.
I am rushing home every day to see if it is in my mailbox--so far no luck!
MM tell talbuc that I 22 for the price of 20, so just give me an address...
for those who got in on the game before the lighter scam, your time is coming.
(did i say scam?)
I have a PayPal account. I established one to order a box of my second book from England (where the publisher is located), with an author's discount. It was a pain in the ass to do and then use, but then, I'm not good at that stuff; eventually I did get the hang of it, when I finally figured out how to convert pounds into dollars.
Anyway, are you going to think less of me, Rick, if I muddle through with the pdf?
Can we do this Christmas-styles? Like, mail it with my name to:
2146 Venables Street
Vancouver, BC V5L 2J4
and let me know what kind of novelty item you'd like in return?
Matching lighters, then. You'll be the cutest couple...
I don't like the quid pro quo, though; and besides, all I like is liquor and all i need is money.
Ask me again on May 25, the celebration day of Tito's birthday.
all I like is liquor and all i need is money
Rick, if as Muse attests is true in another thread, and Mr. Durick is in fact, Elvis, is it not also true that you are Hunter S. Thompson?
Let's all send Smartini some books for X-mas since his address is right there for the taking! (uh, after I send that book to Sandydog I've failed to send him for so embarrassingly long ...)
A part of me was sort of hoping the border Croats would confiscate them, provided only that it was the beginning of a brilliant adventure on their part.
Children are a bit like boats, I hear. It is not the initial outlay--it is the upkeep. I am sure I cannot afford her.
Arjun and the Good Snake arrived today. My gosh, it is a beautiful book--nicer than many of the "coffee table" books I own. Yes, there are actually photographs in the book itself. I can understand why the publisher has it priced so high.
It will be hard not to read it before February despite all of the other things I have to read.
What a coincidence, Lisa, my copy arrived today also. I like the bolder font. Very kind on my waning eyesight. The snakebite arcana & statistics are nice accoutrements to the narrative too.
A big book deserves a big picture, no?
I noticed mention of a forthcoming A Circumnavigation through Maritime History on the dust jacket also; sounds intriguing, Rick!
Alas, Circumnavigation no longer has a publisher. It was going to be published in Poland, but a final meeting suggested that as students photocopy excessively there few would sell. Still, they gave me a choice, a we will if you want us to. I let them off the hook, thinking maybe through Lulu...Anyway, the book exists and will be published sooner or later.
I scanned the photo to put it on the book page. I am not the best scanner and photo editor, but at least it is there!
Got Arjun and the good snake ! Thanks Rick for the note ! I am sure I will enjoy this read
I just managed to do this, I think. Check your e-mail and confirm?
Dear Anna, I have two addresses for you. Please check your email and send me the preferred one.
Yes, but more exciting will be trying to extract the actual money from Paypal...right now it is on two different credit cards, one which won't be extracted from without UN vote, the other being merely complex as a Kafka nightwalk.
As February is nearly upon us, if I'm not thinking of March or January, I would appreciate any suggestions on how to start this reading, what background information would be useful or of interest. I am no A_Musing, who has compiled several volumes of criticism about Moby Dick, but I will do what I can if I know what it is.
Background of history, culture or country that would add to our reading?
Well, I've now downloaded the Kindle version, but on hearing what a pretty book it is, am thinking I may need to say a requiem for a tree.
Rick, Moby is an act of love/obsession, and probably not healthy. I fully understand the guy who spent most of two years doing an illustration for every page of the book.
non-insane obsession/love is a lovely thing to behold
Lisa, the hard thing is what to say in those regards because readers will have a wide variety of knowledges on the country, etc., some deep, some maybe near nil...But I'll try to work a little before it starts, try to imagine something may be beneficial and toss it in here.
Rick, I know there will be varying levels of knowledge, but perhaps you could cater to me--lowest common denominator. I have always been interested in India, but my understanding of it comes from Freedom at Midnight and a fair amount of modern fiction such as The Raj Quartet and A Fine Balance. I am ignorant about religion, culture and pre-Raj history.
That's not a bad framework to start with. The first things to come to mind are: 1) Freedom at Midnight: Loving the feckless shithead Mountbatten; 2) RQ: isn't our story of their story a lovely story for us, 3) A Fine Balance: That was Mistry's long one, right? Great stuff.
Got home to find my very own copy of Arjun and the Good Snake, all signed and everything. Am wondering about the irony of including a lighter in with a book--is that a tacit encouragement of book burning?
As a warmup to the post-Moby dick read, let me warn you that time is running out for purchasing the book given that I expect a two week trip through post. However, (!), the book is available in PDF free (and kindle for about 10 dollars) if you let me know at, I repeat, rick.harschgmail.com.
someone named Teresa wrote asking about it and I may have scared her off by mentioning paypal, which scares a lot of people off for some reason; and I think I would avoid it because of wikileaks related shenanigans if it weren't currently the only way I have of selling in the US.
So, Teresa, if you're out there, I can send the book free...
Oh, and the Tito lighters are now officially gone (I left one out of Porius' envelope, but I set it aside for when he returns to Detroit where it is colder and he'll need fire).
Hey Rick, that Teresa was me, of course. No paypal doesn't scare me, I've just yet to attend to it, something which I will do right now (now how does one use paypal?...)
I plan to start the reading after Moby Dick is finished, if that seems like a good idea.
Sam has it scheduled to mid-February. Holding off on Arjun is fine with me since I don't have any other reading that I am committed to for the next couple of months. I won't mind if it carries into March.
I am nowhere near finishing either Gg or MD and wonder how this will work, but am excited for AatGS.
I am going to pause Gg after TG, not reading the other two until I've had a bit of respite.
Thank heaven I never started Gg since I am trying to read FBM along with MD. Going out of town mid Feb so I might peek at AatGS before I leave.
I can't wait for the day we can dispense with entire words altogether.
A Fine Balance, despite a flaw or two, might be my best read of the last decade. BRotLD!
This article is for Slick.
Chicken chicken chicken
I'm reading NS and FLD simultaneously, with P and FLCB waiting, which I'll read when HFO.
Rick, you're going to inherit some exhausted readers here, myself included. I know these will overlap; I will read once we're to the end of MB, but if you start it before then, I'll catch up.
I have already lost any idea of what the heck you are talking about. I will never survive in a world without words.
BTW, due to the delay, we might get some new blood to join us: drmarymccormack She has popped in over on the weather thread and was interested in Arjun but thought she would not have time to get the book. So, please, be nice just for a little while, until she figures out we are weird but harmless.
I've never suid anybody in my life, Mr. Porius, but, yes, I am very generis.
I am definitely starting the thread AFTER Moby Dick readers give me the go ahead. Sam, you need to put your materials together to form a book, by the way. I will definitely give you three full days to recover once you are done.
I am just over one hundred pages in. I like when Rick's taking a chance on a phrase or aside (usually in italics) and it works. Also admiring Rick's ability to maintain at the same time a high level of idiosyncrasy and universal appeal.
It is time. I've downloaded the book, and will be reading it as my children permit me access to the Kindle machine.
Someday, when I retire, perhaps there will be a real book. I have only just begun to think.
To appreciate Rick's book a knowledge of Hinduism, etc. will serve the reader well. Here's some information.
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