I've got four exciting things for you to look at, if you get excited by the same kind of thing as I do.
First of all is Benjamin Stein's exciting book The Canvas, now available in Brian Zumhagen's English translation. A novel about truth and perception set mainly in Germany, Israel and America, it's a story with two beginnings and two endings, which is quite handy because that means it can be printed in a flip-over format. I read two chapters told by one narrator and then two by the other and then flipped over again, but it's up to you how you go about it. The book's been getting a lot of well-earned press attention, but just in case you hadn't noticed... I will also dine out forever on the story of how I recommended it to the publishers, who then commissioned another translator. But I was only mad for about ten minutes because I suspect Zumhagen did a better job than I could have done on all the religious aspects. And I know the author was very pleased with their collaboration. So hey - why not buy a copy?
And if you don't mind waiting a little while I'd also recommend Ann Morgan's forthcoming book Reading the World: Postcards from my Bookshelf. It says here that Harvill Secker will be publishing it in Summer 2014. The book grew out of Ann's blog A year of reading the world, for which she's spent the past year finding and reading books from all the countries. Which must be a mammoth project - take this post about trying to identify a full-length work of prose by a Liechtenstein writer available in English, for example, and you'll see some of the difficulties immediately. And look - she even called me up on the phone for a chat and wrote about Clemens Meyer's short-story collection All the Lights as Germany's contribution! "The publisher said the book will appeal to Bill Bryson, Nick Hornby, Elif Batuman and Anne Fadiman readers." Well, perhaps they're not wrong, but I haven't read any of them and am still looking forward to seeing this fascinating blog on paper, preferably with a round-up of what the author learned in the course of her year-long adventure.
And while we're on the subject of adventurous blogs-turned-books, have I ever recommended my friend Isabel Bogdan's fun-packed volume Sachen machen? Isabel is a lovely lady, a translator with a wicked and slightly silly sense of humour, who has an online column by the same name, in which she just goes ahead and tries stuff out. Like going to a heavy metal festival, getting a Chinese massage, riding a Segway, spending all night in a bookshop or getting one of those fishy pedicures - the only vaguely daring thing on her list that I've ever done. So Isabel goes and does all this stuff and writes about it in a humorous and affirmative manner, and very well of course because that's what she's good at.
So ages and ages ago, back when I was very tired and on a bit of a laziness bender blogwise, Isabel did a lovely reading in Berlin. It was organised by this geezer called Hermann Bräuer - and OMG! it says on his website that Stewart Lee thinks he's talented! I knew I should have got round to friending him on Facebook. Sheesh. Anyway, after the actual reading part there was a rather long drinking part to the evening, during which said allegedly talented comedian revealed that he's co-written the antithesis to Isabel's book, namely 101 Dinge, die Sie sich sparen können. 101 things you don't need to bother with. The plan was - guys, if you read this I hope you remember to put it into action - for Isabel and Hermann to go on tour together. Isabel will be a shiny golden angel of positive thinking with her beautiful blonde tresses, and dark-haired Hermann will be the devil on your other shoulder, telling you not to bother trying things out. The book's out in December so they should definitely play on the whole religion thing. I shall come along in a nice dress and hand out Christmas crackers specially doctored to contain German jokes, provided Stewart Lee comes too.