Monday, 7 June 2010

Cover story

Several years ago I completed my novel The Night Music* after about ten years' working and tinkering. I had definite ideas about a cover, and rather than have anyone else's notions imposed on me I asked my son Nibus and his partner Nibula if they would accept the commission.

So off we went together to Collioure, which is an attractive little Mediterranean fishing port in the shadow of the eastern Pyrenees, almost on the Franco-Spanish border. Once it was a haunt of Matisse and Derain, and I would like to think Picasso too, but to my knowledge there's no record of him ever going there. It's very built up now, with measles-like rashes of holiday villas swarming up the hillsides, but the old port manages to keep its ancient appeal despite the summer crowds. I once saw Michael Winner there, wearing a blazer.

I wanted the tower to feature on my cover, partly because of its phallic overtones but mostly because a big chunk of The Night Music is set in pre-war and wartime Collioure. I made my hero be born there in 1941. I made him spend the first three or four years of his life there, playing about on the beach, dodging about the anchovy boats with their furled lateen sails, making up to café customers for centimes.

Nibula set to work with her camera, and Nibus - already with several book covers to his credit - set to work to enhance one of her images, arranging a kind of ejaculatory nimbus around the top of the tower. This may have been deliberate or accidental, I don't know, but I hoped it wasn't too obvious or crass an allusion. Maybe it was just moonlight. But it worked:

Then something magical happened, one of those occurrences that make you think that just now and again someone else, some other entity, the Muse, perhaps, is on your side: quite unperceived by Nibula at the time she took the photo, a little lad of about three - just the age the novel's hero would have been - ran into her camera's field of vision. He's there in the bottom left hand corner, a sort of providential seal of approval.

Alas! When The Night Music eventually hit the shelves the printing of the cover came out so dark that this tiny providential figure was completely obscured. But I knew. And so do you, now.

*Now out of print, so this isn't a plug. As if such a thought would cross your mind.


I, Like The View said...

I like book covers. . .

. . . and that one is special, as is its story

(on the subject of Mr Winner - I hope you know what a thoroughly foul and disgusting individual he is)(blazer or no blazer)

Rog said...

Very nice cover in either case. I notice it has leapt to 1,410,156 in the Amazon chart and has 5 star reviews.

I've added another review to help persuade them to reprint.

Michael Winner in a blazer would be a phallic symbol.

Dave said...

Was it your old school blazer that you were wearing? The previous commenters foolishly seem to believe it was the film-director cum restaurant-critic who was wearing it.

I'm sure you'd never lend it to him - he'd probably spill the gravy down it.

Vicus Scurra said...

You have failed to specify whether it was you or Winner wearing a blazer. I cannot overemphasise the importance of this distinction.

Christopher said...

Jax: Thank you. Do I sense some animus? Oh dear.

Rog: Thank you. And thank you again. At one halcyon time TNM leapt, as you say, to about 4000. Someone must have bought 3 copies at 4.07 am on a Sunday morning in August, traditionally the slackest sales moment of the year.

There's much in what you say about phallic symbols. 'Winner' is no doubt an anglicisation of 'Wiener'.

Dave: I'm not quite certain to whom you're addressing this comment, me or Mr Wiener? My school blazer was already stained with egg and as I'm not (as you know) the largest person you've ever seen, and was even more slender and lissom as a youth, Mr Wiener would have struggled horribly to get into it. Maybe such discomfort is what some would wish on him.

Christopher said...

Vicus: I'm sorry, there's seems to have been some problem with order of appearance of comments, no doubt due to the difference in hour between here and NE Hampshire, home of Maj. Ronald Ferguson.

I know we have never met. (You and I, that is.)

I sincerely hope that one day we may.

Nevertheless you can claim to be familiar with some of my principles, just as I am with yours. In this household the name V.Scurra is held in honour and respect, despite our having enough Latin to know exactly what it is intended to mean.

Honestly, dear friend, would I wear a blazer in Collioure? Your point is as otiose as it is mischievous.

Dave said...

I think I was trying to make the same point as Mr Scurra, albeit in a more oblique way.

Clearly I would not be as blunt as he, for I do not have a Death Wish (an obsure refernce to one of Mr Weiner's films).

Christopher said...

Thank you, Dave, ever considerate. I should steer clear of Death Wishes, even the soft-centred ones. Love Hearts offer much more promising outcomes.

dinahmow said...

I do hope Mr. Winner was also wearing trousers? In his case, one cannot be certain.

WV poxysmat does seem appropriate.

Vicus Scurra said...

Thank you. Otiose. That shall be my epitaph.