Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August 5, 2014

August 5, 2014

 It’s funny how things turn out, when you really don’t plan anything, but then everything you want to do becomes crystal clear.  I never wanted to be a publisher till I discovered Boris Vian through my wife Lun*na, and in all  of odd places, in Japan.  At the time, I was writing short fiction pieces, and Lun*na mentioned to me that my work reminds her of Vian’s short stories.  At that moment, I sort of heard about Vian, but more in a jazz music placement than say in literature.  In other words, I didn’t know of him.  Once I came back to Los Angeles, I immediately went to the Downtown Library to see if I can find anything on Vian and his novels.  The book they had there, and it was a part of their permanent collection (meaning I couldn’t check the book out) was “I Spit on Your Grave.” It was a mass-market paperback, published by a company that no longer existed.   I made a photo-copy of the novel and took it home to read.  By the time I finished the book, I knew that I must re-publish this work.   I located the French owners of the novel, and secured the English language rights.  As I signed the contract they asked if I would want the English language edition of the book that they have on file.   I said sure, and it seems that the version that they have was translated by Vian and an American army buddy at the time.  I didn’t really think of it, because I thought the American mass-market edition would be exactly the same.  That, as usual, was a totally wrong presumption on my part.  The American copy was edited of course, and Vian’s manuscript was a tad much rougher in spots.  The purist that I’m, I decided to publish Vian’s manuscript.

Now that I discovered this Vian (Vernon Sullivan) novel, I decided I needed to publish an English edition of his masterpiece “Lécume des jours.   Once I made that decision, then I knew I had to publish all of Vian’s major novels. Both under his name and the books he wrote under Vernon Sullivan.   The way I looked at I just wanted to build a structure that was Boris Vian.   The foundation would be “I Spit on Your Graves, ” which is probably his most scandalous and famous book, and L’écume des jours.   Then I would add the additional Vian titles on top of the solid foundation.  With that in mind, I discovered Serge Gainsbourg while doing research on Vian.   Vian was a big supporter of Gainsbourg and his music, during the 1950s, so I felt I had to add him to the TamTam Books’ family.   Therefore I published Gainsbourg’s only work of fiction, “Evguénie Sokolov” as well as the magnificent biography on Gainsbourg by Gilles Verlant.

The other important figure for me is Guy Debord.  The writer Robert Greene (“48 Laws of Power”) turned me on to Debord’s “Considerations on the Assassination of Gérard Lebovici, ” which is an incredible book and a tad unusual one from Debord. In that book, he defends himself and his good friend Lebovici, who was a financial backer of Guy’s writings and films, as well as a publisher.  Robert did a superb translation of the book, with a fantastic introduction, and one of the things that came to my attention is the narrative of Lebovici publishing the French gangster Jacques Mesrine’s memoir “The Death Instinct. ”

So now that I have completed the circle in a sense with Boris Vian and his world (of sorts), I decided to focus on my own writing and explore within my own world.  But alas, TamTam Books is really all about me.  In one sense, all twelve titles that I have published is very much a memoir, in that I lived with all of these books (including Lun*na’s upcoming “A Ring Around The Collar” and Sparks’ “In The Words of Sparks… Selected Lyrics), that when I look at them, I see myself in every book that I published.  In other words, this is my life:

- I Spit on Your Graves by Boris Vian (Vernon Sullivan)
- Foam of the Daze by Boris Vian
- Autumn in Peking by Boris Vian
- The Dead All Have The Same Skin by Boris Vian (Vernon Sullivan)
- To Hell With The Ugly by Boris Vian (Vernon Sullivan)
- Red Grass by Boris Vian
- Evguénie Sokolov by Serge Gainsbourg
- Considerations on the Assassination of Gérard Lebovici by Guy Debord
- Gainsbourg the Biography by Gilles Verlant
- In The Words of Sparks… Selected Lyrics by Ron Mael and Russell Mael (Sparks) with Introduction by Morrissey
-A Ring Around The Collar by Lun*na Menoh
- The Death Instinct by Jacques Mesrine

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