Well, I did hear from Europa Editions about my manuscript:
"I read your fiction with interest. You write with style and verve but, alas, I don't believe I could publish either JUST LIKE THAT or THE END OF A BEGINNING with success. I do hope that you are able to place the novels at another house.
Well, I did probably expect such a letter.
So then why did you send them out?
Because the writing is not finished until the book is read... even if one understands as a Paul Valery might write that no book is ever finished it is...
And as Turgenev: for those five unknown readers.
Well, I might posit the belief that publishers are the last believers in fortune tellers, though the proliferations of storefront psychics, personal advisors and other manipulators of the future, would indicate they are just a branch of a much larger industry represented by your local woman with the strange Egyptian props, sitting in a tiny storefront in the back of which is an over-weight gentleman watching a foreign language video on a flat screen TV.
Well, one does know the publisher/editor sits at her/his desk--- a desk strewn with magazines--- with a physical or mental form always near at hand on which they calculate the costs and future of whatever book they might be considering. They have to be able to come up with numbers for advanced copies to all the usual outlets and then calculate first month, first quarter, first half, first year and then subsequent sales figures... of course all these numbers are grabbed from the thickened air through which they move...
Well, we all remember Krapp in KRAPP'S LAST TAPE recording himself: Seventeen copies sold, of which eleven at trade price to free circulating libraries beyond the seas. Getting known. (Pause) One pound six and something, eight I have little doubt. (Pause) Crawled out once or twice, before the summer was cold. Sat shivering in the park, drowned in dreams and burning to be gone.
Well, I simply know on the day that Kent Carroll wrote his note to me, he was not in the mood to make up the necessary figures for these manuscripts just as Robert Weil, Richard Dick Seaver and John O'Brien before him...
Well, I had tried to describe the beginnings and the ends of that thing called The 60s. I had divided that one book into two books though they are or could be combined into one book. The first line of JUST LIKE THAT A Moment in 1965: Are you a Jew.
The second line: I was asked this question 35 years ago in Leipzig.
And from the last line of that book: ...all shaped up into the journey and the what had happened on my Spring holiday that year in Leipzig in the German Democratic Republic when I went over from Dublin to get away from it all, as I ad thought, but stocking the future when, dear one, you ask, and I begin...
THE END OF A BEGINNING is more complicated bound as it is by the fragments of a play about the death of a father and beginning after a moment from the play where a daughter and son are talking about the funeral preparations the reader is then dropped into the Upper West Side of Manhattan, into a moment after when the reader will move midst the sexual appetites of the Sullivanians, conversing with a strange world re-enacting the life and times of Charles Manson while Anthony Burgess sits in The Gold Rail on Broadway between 110th and 111th Streets complaining of the rudeness of Princeton while next door Johnny Greene of Greene County Alabama is remembering early in the morning the civil rights movement as it moved through bedrooms and in fields of Southern flesh which he is trying to re-create as Billy, fascinated by Ali McGraw's brother is washing dishes in Times Square after reading Rimbaud but tired of women who want him to tie them up...