Thursday, October 27, 2005

Oops / Eureka / Hurrah / Uh-Oh

OOPS: In what is bound to be only the first of many time-slips experienced by this blog, I inaccurately stated yesterday that the Horror Channel preview was going to happen on The Men's Channel at 12:00 a.m. midnight last night.

Correction: It happens at midnight tonight.

If it makes you feel any better, I also tuned in (late) last night and saw a lanky model waving a flag around as a bunch of race cars darted up and down a track. When I decided that George Romero wasn't likely to turn up behind the wheel of one of those vehicles, I turned off the TV and went back to reading Andrew Biskind's The Real Life of Anthony Burgess.

EUREKA: Last night, while peddling furiously on my exer-cycle and listening to Television's Marquee Moon, the idea for a novel, coming from the opposite direction, peddled straight into my head. (I mention the album only to plug one of the greatest under-the-general-radar albums ever recorded, not because it offers any particular clues to the subject matter.) It's not another horror novel, certainly not another vampire novel, but rather the sort of literary idea that could really only work as a book. Ideas for books that aren't halfway houses to ideas for films or some other visual media are as rare as angel's hair, and one is privileged (maybe cursed) to receive them. The idea is for me to write a new short chapter for this book each day, blog fashion, and see how the material stacks up. My goal is a short comic novel -- kind of a return to the Kafkaesque territory of my still-unpublished second novel The Only Criminal -- that's meant to be read in short sips, much as it was written. I may tire of this idea within a week, or who knows, it could turn out to be something good.

HURRAH: Last night, Donna finally succeeded in completing the three-month task of compiling the index to Mario Bava - All the Colors of the Dark!

This is such a relief to us both, you can't imagine. Every evening, for the past three months, she's been calling my office from the room next door and asking me things like "Is it Ercole e la regina di Lidia or Ercole e la reina di Lidia?"... "Is it Roy Colt e Winchester Jack or Roy Colt & Winchester Jack?"... "Is it 5 Bambole per la luna d'agosto or 5 bambole per la luna d'Agosto, or Cinque bambole per la luna d'Agosto... and in English, is it 5 Dolls for an August Moon or Five Dolls for an August Moon... and was it 1969 or 1970?" And then there are the questions about Italian spellings -- "Is it Dino De Laurentiis or Dino de Laurentiis?" etc.

Because I finished writing this book nearly two years ago, not all of these answers have been poised on the tip of my tongue. So Donna's sudden questions were often my cue to drop whatever I might be doing and look up the answers, before she could move on to the next conundrum -- usually just one paragraph further on. This book has been proofread by several different film historians, but in a book this size and this comprehensive, there are all sorts of invisible inconsistencies that only come to light when compiling an index. It's been hell, but the book has been made stronger by the effort. Neither of us want to go through anything like this ever again, so don't ask me which director I'm going to write about next.

Some of the printers who are courting us for this job are sending us some samples of their work, along with dummy blank books that will show us exactly the size and weight and dimensions of the Bava book. One of the companies still within our price range is an Italian printer that is responsible for all the great Taschen books, including the recent Stanley Kubrick Archives monster -- it would be great to work with them, not least of all because they are in Italy and could make it easier for us to get copies of the book to Bava's family members and some of my research associates. But of course, there are more considerations involved than just that.

UH-OH: It's getting to be "that time" again. Next week we must take another break from this process to assemble Video Watchdog #123, which should only take two weeks if all goes according to plan. (That means it's my cue, this week, to start brain-birthing as many reviews for the next issue as I possibly can.) Then it's back to work on Bava book, with Donna designing the layouts for the front matter and final appendices. We expect to get through with all this before the holidays, barring any computer crashes or unforeseen photo file problems. We don't expect the job will reach the printer we ultimately choose until sometime in January, and then it will take them however long it takes to produce the books and deliver them to our door. So our best guess for the book's arrival is Spring 2006... but it could be earlier.

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