Monday, 31 October 2011

Dorothee Kocks: spurning the timid life tomorrow

Dorothee: I've decided to live up to my website's name, Beware The Timid Life.  I'm giving the talk advertised below in a feminist sex shop, restoring some of the great stories left on the cutting-room floor. For The Glass Harmonica, I did much more research than could ever belong in the novel, and I'm telling about the background of the time: the general expectation even in Puritanical times that women were naturally as lusty as men, the surprising number of bawdy houses; the connection being feeling frisky and feeling free. I'm aiming to add a supplement to the novel with these stories, the 'XXXtras edition' as it were. People can sign up here on my website.

 Meanwhile, Midwest Book Review had this to say about Dorothee's novel: To live for love and joy seems so alien to many. The Glass Harmonica: A Sensualist's Tale is a novel following Chjara Valle, a driven young woman who through her life of a servant as she goes from Corsica to Paris to America. A riveting and unique read with plenty of twists and turns as a woman with a love for music dares to go against the law for it. The Glass Harmonica is a read very much worth considering for historical fiction collections, highly recommended.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Slightly Peculiar Love Stories Perused

Did you know you can read these stories on your PC or laptop? (That's how the rat occupies them, by crawling inside his old computer that's always humming and warm.) It was pointed out to me that some people think you need a special reading device to read digital books. Not so. The simplest way to read Rosa Mira's books on a computer is to download the PDF version. It will open on your desktop with a double click. I'm quite proud of the PDF.  The pages have been elegantly designed by Christine Buess and given some last-minute attention by Caroline Jackson.

Although Tim Jones is the author of a Slightly Peculiar Love Storie(s) he has reviewed the whole in a completely unbiased fashion and you can read the review here. (Thanks, Tim!) I'm looking forward to the launch of Tim's book of poems Men Briefly Explained tomorrow night in Dunedin,  but he'll also be coming to a NZ city near (some of) you. He's travelling from south to north.

I've almost finished proof-reading Michael Jackson's Road Markings: An Anthropologist in the Antipodes. His thoughts about the multiple strands of time, place, event and person that feed into and out of our lives have been occupying mine. I'd love to publish the ebook by the time Rosa Mira Books turns one in January. Let me see if I can dig out a quote for you . . .  

  No life is sufficient unto itself. A person is singular only in the sense in which astronomers use the term: a relative point in space and time where invisible forces become fleetingly visible. Our lives belong to others as well as to ourselves. Just as the stars at night are set in imperceptible galaxies, so our lives flicker and fail in the dark streams of history, fate, and genealogy. One might say that we are each given three lives. First is our conscious incarnation, occupying most of the space between our birth and death. Second is our existence in the hearts and minds of others ­– a life that precedes the moment of our birth and extends beyond our death for as long as we are remembered. Finally there is our afterlife as a barely remembered name, a persona, an element in myth. And this existence begins with the death of the last person who knew us in life.     (New paragraph; this is refusing to separate out.) I've been thinking about how to carry on with this labour of love called Rosa Mira Books which is not even starting to pay its way. Not by a long chalk. Except that carry on I shall, day by day, job by job, taking from Peter to pay Paul, finding ways to play and feel happy  about it, and not give myself a hard time if it doesn't conform to some impossible model of perfection.  (New paragraph.) I'm glad the rat turned up. I think he'll be a help.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

He liked it!

…  a provocative novel by an elegant writer who has blazed her own path.

In these days of bite-sized time-bytes into which our days are nibbled, it's a treat to come upon well crafted essay-style blog postings, or book reviews that take time to savour and digest and to analyse the themes of a novel (in this case) within a wider social context. Anyway Dorothee and I were delighted to receive this thoughtful, flavoursome review of The Glass Harmonica: a sensualist's tale by Jim Cullen for the History News Network:
"Dorothee Kocks has had an intriguing career. A graduate of the University of Chicago, she went on to pursue a doctorate in American Civilization in the decidedly different climate of Brown (where our paths crossed almost a quarter-century ago). She got a tenure-track job at the University of Utah, proceeding to publish a richly suggestive piece of scholarship, Dream a Little: Land and Social Justice in in Modern America (California, 2000). Then she ditched her teaching post, took up the accordion, and began traveling widely, supporting herself with odd jobs. Last year, she made a foray into fiction by publishing her first novel, The Glass Harmonica, as an e-book with a New Zealand-based publisher. It has just been published in a print edition.

"Kocks's unusual vocational trajectory is worth tracing here, because The Glass Harmonica is an unusual book. A work of historical fiction that bridges the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, it also sprawls across Europe and North America. Napoleon Bonaparte makes a cameo appearance, but its core is a love story between a commoner Corsican musician, Chjara Valle, and an entrepreneurial American purveyor of erotica, Henry Garland. The two lovers encounter any number of obstacles -- principally in the form of spiteful people on either side of the Atlantic -- but nevertheless manage to build a life together,  one animated by the mysteriously alluring (and thus to many threatening) glass harmonica, a musical instrument which enjoyed a vogue in the age of its inventor, Benjamin Franklin.

"Such a summary makes the book seem simpler than it is. For one thing, The Glass Harmonica is rich with historical texture. Brimming with research, it vividly recreates any number of subcultures, ranging from continental drawing-room entertainments to the feverish intensity of revivial meetings. As one might expect of a writer who has spent much of her life, and much of her work, exploring the concept of place, Kocks also evokes varied geographies -- urban Paris and Philadelphia, rural upstate New York, coastal New England;  et. al. An afterword limns her sources and provides set of footnotes worth studying for their own sake.

"Kocks also boldly trespasses over contemporary convention in realistic fiction, eschewing the spare, lean quality of modern prose in favor of lush, omniscient narration. 'On the morning Chjara Valle quickened in her mother's womb, the sun reached its red fingers over the Mediterranean Sea,' the novel opens." See the rest …

Last night I dreamed that a rat ran up my leg – friendly though. This one is holding a placard on the end of his pole, that says, Occupy The Glass Harmonica!

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Glass Harmonica in paperback

When I think back over 2010, the year in which I dealt, too often anxiously, with the complexity and challenges of setting up Rosa Mira Books, I recall the relief it always was to sink into the reading, editing and proofing of The Glass Harmonica — appreciating always Dorothee's lyrical voice; her consummately professional approach to her writing and research; the boldness, freshness and sheer joie de vivre of her narrative.

It's a pleasure to be able to offer the paperback version of The Glass Harmonica: A sensualist's tale, with access to sales via Rosa Mira Books, or directly here.

Dorothee's created a terrific website, with a blog as provocative as its title: Beware the Timid Life. On this page there's a sparky Q & A with Dorothee and further down the video of a recent TV interview (do check it out; she's a broadcaster's delight). Then keep browsing the site for its many tasty morsels.

Photo of Dorothee by Claudia O'Grady

Congratulations, Dorothee, on creating such an attractive, intriguing and inspiring home for your readers and fans.