Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Driving down to Galilee

Those of you who know about me, know that Nancy and I are also The Thimble Press, which since 1969 has produced various kinds of publication to do with books for children and young people. Developments in digital publishing - Print on Demand - made it essential that we familiarise ourselves with it, an ideal form of inexpensively producing print for very small publishing houses.

Neither of us is competent with the latest electronic technicalities. So Nancy had to learn the processes. To do this she needed a straightforward text that didn't involve an author who might be upset if the attempt didn't succeed.

She remembered a diary I'd kept for her of my first visit to the 'secular' kibbutzim in the north of Israel in 1984. I'd produced 10 copies of it, using my first PC and a photocopier, and gave them to friends. Some of those who read it suggested it should be published. But I was too busy working on Now I Know at the time and didn't take their advice.

Now it seemed the ideal text for our first Print on Demand publication. And after all these years it appears as Driving down to Galilee under the Line by Line UK imprint of Thimble Press. 130 pages, full colour cover (which the ever patient Chris Robertson of Softlink Computers, who looks after our systems, helped me design and also provided the cover image - he's a very good photographer), 203 x 126 mm, cream paper. £10 post and package included. If you want to buy a copy go to the Thimble Press website where there is a stock list and order form. http://www.thimblepress.co.uk/

Things have changed in Israel since my visit in 1984. Here and there in the diary the fears of people I met are expressed about what would happen to the country if Sharon got into power. Their worst fears have come true. I returned twice more in the 80s, but not after the intifada. I wonder how different my impressions would be now?

What the diary records that will still be true is the character and nature of that extraordinary land, and of the people who established the kibbutzim. As for the kibbutzim themselves, even when I was there the break-up of the ideal they were built on, and the arrangements by which they were organised, was in train. They are now, I gather, very different places. So in a sense, the diary is a snapshot of a changeful moment in the history of the country.

I hope some of you who like my novels might find this different kind of narrative of interest. I love diaries, and collect them. I like them so much because they are written at the time the events are happening, without any attempt to shape or structure the story. They are novels of the instant. They hold the present in words so that it is always the present and never the past. No nostalgia. No retrospective reconsideration.

As my friend, the poet Alan Tucker, says in his Foreword: 'Form withstands and survives all temporary doubts and hesitations. It allows the equal inclusion of truth and error, it accepts and holds together both accurate depiction and opinionated ignorance.' (p 6) There are plenty of doubts and hesitations in Galilee, and accurate depiction and opinionated ignorance. But I wouldn't have published it if I had any reservations about it as a literary piece of writing.

And if this seems a bit like blowing my own trumpet as well as something of an advert, then so be it!


Anonymous said...

I am very glad there’s a new book from you!
Beginning of March you wrote in one of your blogs we’d have to wait for a while still …
I think a diary is interesting when its writer is interesting. As a reader looking at things through the eyes of someone with depth of mind (and soul) is a great joy. And that brings us again to the ‘tools of the trade’ blog (of half March) on eyes, hands etc.
So thanks for the new book!


Judy Isaacson said...

Let us know when you are visiting next time so we can build a car trip itinerary through the Galilee, Carmel, Negev, and the Judean desert in Israel.

Annelies said...

I wanted to order Galilee, but it seems impossible for foreigners... (at least when not living in the USA, which I am glad to say I am not...)

Lee said...

I would also suggest that you make a PDF file (or other e-format) of the book available to download, for those of us who like to read electronically.

ted said...

Nice cover!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Chambers,
I should probably write you a letter instead but since I have the opportunity here to talk to you, I figure that I'll take it.

I first discovered your writing around five years ago, when I took out Postcards From No Man's Land from the library. I loved it so much that I bought it. (I rarely buy books unless I know I'll read it over and over again. Or unless I just really enjoyed it. Anyway.) And then a couple years later, my best friend was telling me about this book called This Is All that she was reading. She was very excited about it, and I immediately had reservations about it. Not because we have different tastes (which we, on the whole, have similar tastes) but just because I am instinctually perverse. I eventually gave in and tried to read it. Once I started, I couldn't stop. Eventually I made the connection that the author of This Is All was the same as Post Cards From No Man's Land and was very pleasantly surprised.

I suppose what I want to say is that my best friend and I really, really enjoy your books. And I think that it doesn't matter what age you are when you read it. (We were the same age as Cordelia when we read it--around fifteen). And now at seventeen, we are making our english teacher (who is very purist) read it. We love your work and are amazed that seventy year old man wrote so well from a fifteen year old girl's point of view. At first we thought it was a thirty year old woman. Needless to say, we are very impressed and a little creeped out. ;)

Thank you for writing. This Is All has become a handbook of sorts to us. We relate it to our own lives all the time. I can't tell you how much it means to us.



Aidan Chambers said...

Thanks, Marie. I'm very pleased you like This Is All so much and wanted to tell me.You can reach me via the contacts link on my website if you want to say more or exchange emails.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for replying! I'm sorry I didn't reply sooner--I had no idea you'd say something. :) I think I've said what I wanted to though I'll keep the contacts in mind. Good luck!


Hannah said...

Hallo Aidan Chambers,

I agree with Marie: This is all is probably my favourite book. Not just of your books, but of all books ever written. I recommended it to a lot of friends, and they loved the book too. It is such a personal book, it seems you really get to know Cordelia. It is amazing how I feel connected with her, and how much the book means to me. I read it both in my mother tongue Dutch and English, and it is great in both languages.

I always have kept diaries, but since I'm 14 it is more serious. I love writing and I hope that I will be able to write a book as beautiful as This is all. I would like to read your diary, though a diary seems very personal, very private to me. I would not let the whole world read them. But it is wonderful you do, and of others too, as Anne Frank.

Thank you very much for writing This is all, because it made me grow up, it helps me when times are difficult or hard to handle, and I love to read it over and over and over again.


p.s. I'm sorry if my English is not correct, I'm Dutch and I learned English at school, but I know I make mistakes.