SURREAL ADVENTURES FROM THE SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kynkybooks, revisited

- Don't say I didn't warn you, darling. -said Hellgirl making on of her star appearances.

I turned back. I hate it when people just harp on about "I told you this would happen" and things like that. It wears me out; physically and mentally.

- I told you about Ed. He won't publish your books just like that.
- Why not???
- Because he has something you and I don't have: decency and integrity. He is consistent and will never bring out your works if he doesn't think they're good enough. Getting published is neither easy nor simple. But he will be helping you, though. And I know what's going to happen.
- Oh, you know everything.
- Almost everything, my dear: The copyreader will read your manuscript just because Ed asked him to. That’s absolutely exceptional. I can’t believe you’re having such an amazing piece of luck: normally, he would have just ignored you. The vast majority of publishers just round file any unrequested work they get. They don’t do charity; they want to sell. But don’t think you’re sitting pretty just because you know the editor. Hopefully, if you attract his attention, he will read the first couple of pages and make an assessment. But it isn’t about being good enough, Leni: you have to be the best. Ed will remain off stage, but will ask to be informed at all times and will follow carefully the whole process. In the meantime... you'll start hating him... but you'll be fucked up about missing him. How do you like it?
–she asked, as she was filing her nails-.

- Is this how it happened with Misty McGuire?

But Hellgirl had already blown me off, leaving me in mid-sentence, as usual.

Shame. I would have loved to hear how Misty McGuire became Ed's best selling author twenty years ago. I bet she shagged him like crazy. Gosh... what a despicable thought. She was more talented than me. That was the only reason.

The day after, I received a phone call from McGillicuddy, as expected.

- Ms Leni Qinan?
- Speaking.
- This is John McGillicuddy, from Kynkybooks. I'm calling you on behalf of Ed Davies, about your works. I'd like to meet you tomorrow if possible, to have a look at your stories.
- That would be fine.
- Please bring a copy of your best works. I'll be waiting for you at 10am at Kynkybooks. Is that ok with you?
- Sure! I'll be there.

The day after at 9.30AM, I was already at Kynkybooks. I'm not a good person to ask about punctuality and most times I'm either too late or too early. So I had a few nail-biting time at the waiting room. It was the second time I visited Ed's company. The new premises were impressive. I enjoyed the panoramic sea view during the half hour I had been early. At 10am sharp I walked to the reception desk and said:

-I have an appointment with Mr. McGillicuddy. My name is Leni Qinan.

Some seconds later, a hostess escorted me to the elevator; we got to the tenth floor and walked a long quiet corridor to McGillicuddy’s office. The door was open.

- Mr. McGillicuddy? Ms Qinan is here.
- Thanks. Leni, come in please.

He was probably thirty-something. Blond and very tall. He had glasses and a rather bohemian intellectual look. His desk was full of book and papers. Actually, he could have been the class swot.

- I always read over there –he said pointing at the sofa, on the other side of the room- Have a seat, please.

I sat beside him.

- This is my manuscript. –I said, very determined, giving him the book I had just ordered at the bookbinder’s store.
- Ed said to me that you write wonderfully weird and surrealistic stories. I like to read aloud, if you dont mind. –he said, opening the manuscript-. So “My name is Vilma”, right? –he said, after I sat next to him on the sofa.

- Right, that’s the name of the story.

He took the book and started reading:

“Once upon a time there was a mild and wet winter, and a group of Romanian gipsies playing melancholy airs at the metro exit.

They were there every morning, dressed in sombre black clothes, with colourful neck scarves, polishing up their brass trumpets until they shone and glistened. Lifting their hats, they greeted passers-by.

The first day they welcomed me with a rendering of “O sole mío”. It was amusing. For just two coins, those five street musicians would accompany me to the door of the library, dancing about as they played their trumpets. But my purse could not keep up with the pace and, as soon as my contributions ran out, they paid no more attention to me. From then on, the ungrateful wretches even pretended not to see me go by, feigning pride and dignity, as if they were in the streets of Bucharest and their performance as powerful as a scene from Kusturica’s latest film.

From October on, I had been going to the library at No. 5 Liberty Street, taking with me my laptop and backpack full of notebooks. Lovely calluses formed on my hands, which were rather more used to doing nothing.

In the reading room on the sixth floor, I began a study on censorship on children’s books, with the aim of aspiring to a position as an assistant lecturer at the University.

I took out my ID card in its plastic cover, with a photo which did not do me justice and showed it to the librarian. She seemed to have been born in a clone factory which supplied identical copies to the cinema and the theatre: of indeterminate age, she had dyed blond hair done up in a bun, and wore glasses. She was bad tempered too. She hissed a few words at me to let me know the limit of the decibels authorized, which was not to be exceeded under any circumstances. Then, she gave me permission to stay there indefinitely, just so long as I never raised my voice nor stole books.

I spent four months sitting in the same place, which, through use and in time, became mine: a seat at the head of the second table to the left, next to the notice board on the wall advertising the story competition which had been awarded five years before.

In the library at No. 5 Liberty Street, everything had finished, was on the point of becoming out of date or got old fast: the carvings in the wooden wall panels had accumulated the dust of ages and two large sphinxes in granite, which had nothing enigmatic about it at all, guarded the entrance, without any catches. The doors creaked on their hinges, the shutters applauded noisily, the floor squeaked painfully, and the inhabitants of the reading rooms seemed to be covered in a dark varnish, in the image of the sinister place ... just like it, in fact.

Every day, once I had opened up my computer, I looked at the familiar faces over the monitor: the thickset fellow on the left, gesticulating as he ordered his medicine books; my neighbour at the table: she seemed to be correcting boring mathematics exercises; the skinhead girl at the end of the room pouring over the driving test questions; the lanky fellow with his comics, who played computer games not far from me.

In just a few days, I devoured all the children’s books within reach: I swam in the North Sea with Andersen’s mermaid, I clambered up Rapunzel’s long hair and I shared Lemony Snicket’s unfortunate events. I tasted the Little Vampire’s sweet blood. I tried on the crown of Babar the elephant and tested Roald Dahl’s Matilda’s magical powers. I faced up to the fury of William Brown and his Outlaws. I won Willy Wonka’s prize in the chocolate factory. I met Wally and finished Michael Ende’s never-ending story.

It was 1st February and while a treacherous moment of boredom attacked me suddenly during my first coffee break of the day, a man came up to me to ask if he could share my table. Who would dare to interrupt my morning’s stupor and ask permission to invade my private space with the excuse that there was no place anywhere else? I looked up from my newspaper and saw that it was true: all the other tables were occupied. Out of politeness – or rather, kindness – I accepted.”

When McGillicuddy finished reading, he closed the book, stared at me and breathed deep.

- I'd appreciate your e-mailing me the next two pages. I’ll speak to you in a couple of days about it –he said formally, diving me his business card-

"Is that all there is?" -I thought-.

He was certainly tightlipped, but I had to accept it. He had taken full control of the situation.
We shook hands and I left his office. To be honest, I didn’t know what to think. So I decided not to think about it until I heard from him again.

As I made my way to the elevator, I heard someone say:

- Hi Leni.
- Hi Ed.

I turned back and I saw he smiled at me. I smiled back at him.

- I’ve just met McGillicuddy..
- I know, baby. Call me to tell me what are the results of the copyreading, ok?


I nodded. He would know about the results before I did. He stroke my cheek.

- I need to go now, sweety. I have a meeting.

I nodded.

He waved goodbye and smiled sadly. I watched him go; holding back the tears; keeping rooted to the spot until he disappeared.

11 comments:

ysfb said...

I had to read that last half a few times. Really good. Interesting ending.

Nahuatl said...

I loves the plain version of Tom's Diner :)
Can you please turn off the automatic playing of the songs? It will help me atleast in reading the blog :D

tom909 said...

Go for it Leni - he'll publish your story because it's good. But sadly, shagging him will almost certainly help!

rebecca said...

oh, leni! that ending was really good. i'm hooked on this story like a crack addict....more please!

Leni Qinan said...

Thanks, YSFB, I really appreciate, but I'm afraid this is not the end. It’s not the never ending story, either. Both stories continue: the main one and the story inside the story too. Who knows where will we end up?

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Nayan,

I prefer Tom’s Dinner a capella version, rather than the disco one too. Actually, the first one is the original.

About turning off the music, you can do it yourself just by clicking on the pause button, or muting your loudspeakers when you start reading. ;)

Leni Qinan said...

Hi Tom! And thanks!

Remember when I told you I wrote and you thought ‘Omg, now she’ll show me her stories and I’ll have to say that I like what she writes, even if it’s a piece of crap’? LOL.

And you said … sadly??? I had a hell of a good time shagging the editor! But I'd prefer to get published just for my works, not with a little help from my friends, hahaha.

Seriously, sometimes I wish I could write ‘The fine art of shagging to get what you want’, but I’m not talented enough to do that. :)

Leni Qinan said...

WOW Rebecca, thanks for your enthusiasm! It’s really encouraging! I’m already working on the next part, so no worries, lol.

And as long as the addiction allows you to write, everything will be okay!

((besos y abrazos from a faithful reader of yours))

tom909 said...

‘The fine art of shagging to get what you want’, but I’m not talented enough to do that. :)

Ummmm, you do mean you're not talented enough at writing, or....

Leni Qinan said...

Dear Tom,

Among my scarce abilities, there are a few ones that I’ve learned over the years, like writing, cooking, etc, and other innate talents that I treasure and develop constantly, but I better not disclose publicly.

I could write that book, for sure, but I wouldn’t be able to put it into practice in my own self-interest. My experience tells me that I could get almost anything I wanted if I did, but I would be cheating myself (especially if I did that to get published!). I hope this clarification helps. :)

My mojo does not work with the editor as it has worked with other guys, because that decent genuine dude is a hard nut to crack and he's not dumb. Everything will be for my own good, after all, I hope –anyway, if he ever wanted to taste/try/enjoy my undisclosed talents, I would be up for a hard negotiation, LOL.

Take care! XXX.

Grass said...

Call me slow but I wonder why Ed was sad in the end? Does he know something? hmmmm..
I read "My Name is Vilma" so many months back and it was one of those scary things you wrote..

Anyway, I do hope you get published soon sis.. :-) BTW, i just got married..LOL so now, I'm back from honeymoon.. LOL