Monday, 2 June 2008

Wetlands Conquers the UK

Just in case you hadn't noticed, British publishers Fourth Estate have bought Charlotte Roche's Feuchtgebiete for "a decent sum". I'll bet. Thanks to Bowlserised for pointing it out.


Karl-Marx-Straße said...

"A decent sum" as in "not much"? I doubt it. I've had interesting discussions with people on how "bestseller" just means "currently selling the most copies" and does not (have to) mean "worth buying or reading" - and a browse at shows it's not just my customers who aren't impressed. Interestingly, not a single person has returned it where I am. More embarassing than buying it is taking it back, obviously.

Charlotte Roche: clever at marketing; not good at writing. My reaction: yawn, yawn, boring, does this really shock people? Perhaps I should write a book without any real plot (or one that is very weak and morally/socially set in the early 1950s) and then randomly include the word "spunk" and "fuck", perhaps with a minor diversion on the subject of foreskins. "The man's answer to Feuchtgebiete", with a pale blue cover. Hang on, most of Germany won't get fooled that easily again, will they...? But with the right person doing the PR.....get me Kiepenheuer and Witsch - this is one project they won't turn down for being crap and "pornographic". Not again.

kjd said...

Can you take books back if you just plain don't like them? I've got a good few on my shelves that I could return to the shop.

I thing *some* bestsellers are genuinely good reading material, although there's often something of the "lowest common denominator" about them. And Roche's book just popped up at the right moment. The last shocker was a while ago and a whole new generation has discovered yucky stuff. Plus the author is famous and clever at marketing.

I don't think a male version would work, you know. The whole thing that shocks people about Feuchtgebiete is that it's written by a women. You know, one of those mild-mannered creatures who never burp and are always quiet and polite.

I enjoyed this TP article on the subject today:

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

Can you just return books to (German) bookshops? Well, legally, no. If the book was in perfect condition when you bought it, tough. Your rights are understandably non-existent in this case - you bought it, you read it/chuck it away. Or learn to use a public library.

But in practice - at the larger chains - you can, if the employee you deal with is in a good mood and you don't "demand" (but aren't too weak while asking either). If you've got your receipt with you - otherwise don't expect anything (unless it's a title they have in stock, and, ideally, is still shrink-wrapped and therefore unopened). In any case, the book must for all intents and purposes be new and (seemingly) unread, and therefore still sellable. ("I got it as a present but I already have it" is the favourite excuse, to which my favourite reply is "No problem, just come back with the copy that's unread and not the one your kids have spent the last four years eating"). Don't lie about only having bought it there yesterday but have lost the receipt, as that's very, very easy to check. You probably won't get money back, but can exchange it for something of the same value, or get a gift voucher. Don't make a habit of it though, as your face will soon become impregnated in the booksellers' minds. And if it's something they ordered for you, forget it.

No, of course, a male version wouldn't work. I was being vaguely flippant. And Roche isn't that famous. She was known amongst a segment of the "youth", who are now roughly my age (late 20s), as she presented an "innovative" programme on the now-defunct "indy" music channel VIVA ZWEI, which meant basically she would chat a bit to musicians while not really having prepared any questions - being cheeky and over-personal was how she compensated for this. I saw it a few times, and compared to most German television, I suppose it was something special. But I liked the music. And since then (about 6 years ago) nobody's really heard anything from her, though she obviously kept her address and phone book active. This was her second novel - Kiepenheuer und Witsch turned down the first one as well (as Feuchtgebiete) for being unpublishable. Which says a lot - their KiWi range brings out a lot of, hm, "youth" novels written by young-ish journalists or shooting stars from the media. Many are pretty dire in my opinion, but none of them were as bad as this.

Anyway, my favourite article on the book was this over at the Lesemaschine:

in der Generation 40+ wurde das Gesicht irritiert verzogen »sowas muss ich nicht lesen, ich hatte selbst schon einmal Sex«, während die Generation 20+ vorrangig gelangweilt war

I was just bored. A phone book would be more interesting (available free of charge at your local Kaiser's, also with a large helping of "Mädchen-pink" on the cover.

kjd said...

Famous for me means I've actually heard of someone, despite being in the wrong age group. Which applies to Roche, big-time.

I don't think I'd have the guts to take a book back to the shop like that, but thanks for the tip. I have quite a forgettable face though (at least in winter - in summer I stand out by not being even vaguely brown), so maybe it could be worth my while. I'm sure I've heard of women who buy expensive clothes, wear them once to big parties, then take them back to the shop. Maybe I could start a similar scam by never opening books very much while I read them and just taking them back to different shops once I'm done.

Liked the article. Agree with the 13-year-old bit. I didn't find the book boring but I didn't finish it either.

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

Maybe I could start a similar scam by never opening books very much while I read them and just taking them back to different shops once I'm done.

That's the way to do it. Or just order via amazon (etc.) and send them back within 14 days before the bill's due. If the total value of the things you order is over 40 Euros, the "seller" also has to pay for the return postage, thanks to the Fernabsatzgesetz.

kjd said...

The Amazon scam would only work with very expensive books, otherwise I'd never get through €40-worth of reading in two weeks. Sadly, I have one or two other things to do every now and then that interrupt my reading schedule.

Bowleserised said...

Guys? Looks like there's a translation scheme in place already

kjd said...

Oho. Shame the suggestions are mostly off the mark. My tip for who's booked up for the US translation?

Scroll down to "About the Author", 2nd para here:

Buy elo boost said...

Well-known personally indicates I have really heard about somebody, in spite of becoming within the incorrect age bracket. That pertains to Roche, big-time.

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