Friday, 20 November 2009

city-lit Berlin Launch: The Post-Mortem

No doubt all my readers have organised hundreds of book launches in the past and will be thoroughly bored by what's to come. For me, though, last night was a first: My First Book Launch. The plan was to showcase a range of the writing in the city-lit Berlin anthology, including a couple of my favourite German books that made it in.

But of course we couldn't exactly fly authors in from around the globe or raise them from the grave, so a few of the writers in the book had to be represented by stand-ins. That meant the genuine articles who attended - Rory MacLean, Michael Wildenhain and Jakob Hein - had time to read a good chunk of their work, while the audience also got a taste of some of the other "perfect gems of city writing". And we also had a bonus track courtesy of the translator and historian Pam Selwyn, who read one of Johann Friedel's Briefe über die Galanterien von Berlin all about the depravities of Berlin's 18th-century male brothels.

At this point I have to thank all those involved, especially the writers and Lucy Renner-Jones who played the part of Kate Adie with aplomb, John Manning who swapped hats for a very convincing John Le Carré and Len Deighton - and Steph Morris who stole the show as Christopher Isherwood, plus-fours and all.

The other part of the fun was a quiz with copies of the book as prizes. Unfortunately, I made the questions rather hard, which meant that newcomers to Berlin had no chance of a free copy. But the answers are all in the book...

Anyone who wants to get hold of the anthology in Berlin should mosey over to Saint George's Bookshop, Wörtherstraße 27, Prenzlauer Berg. But wait a day or so first, as Paul has to replenish his stocks - they sold out last night.

Finally, my trade secret for anyone else planning their first book launch: make sure you feel a million dollars. I bought a new dress that made me think I was Shirley Bassey and Fiona Bruce all rolled into one - although Jakob Hein seemed to think I was more like Ann Robinson. I graciously allowed him to sing a song though, as well as his very entertaining reading.

Thanks again to all those who attended, practically spilling out the front door. You were a great audience!

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