Slacken your pace, you proceed with too much haste: one ought to allow the moment to abide. The early bird may get the worm – but what kind of worm is it? It’s an annelid of admittedly small proportions; a thin, dry creature, near-drowned by the dew, left in the lawn for over-eager claws.
I have done someone a minor disservice. I may seem to have implicated (see ‘Guardians of petty corruption’ below) that the writer Fabio Muzakaki was a quitter – and that he was unable to complete more than half a dozen chapters of an otherwise promising novel. As often as the corn is cut, so is the case more complicated than at first it seems. In fact, on going over my files, I realise that Muzakaki’s Honeycomb Chronicles was not his first novel. It was proceeded, of course, by The Pompei Poodle (which was, alas, never translated into English). The relative success of this novel, however, suggests that the young writer (contrary to rumour) does have the endurance needed of a novelist. Furthermore, it ought to be stated that the failure of the Honeycomb Chronicles was prompted by a series of unavoidable mishaps. The first was the collapse of the Italian journal in which it was originally published, in eight instalments (with a further eight to go). The second was a malfunctioning computer, leading to the disappearance of those eight further instalments. The third, finally, was the decision by the translator Malcolm Harding (best known for his part in the ‘Luis Funnel Affair’) to abandon the project – provoked in part by a mysterious finger-related illness.
My apologies go out, therefore, to Fabio. It was foolish of me to have forgotten these facts. I hope that I may be able to repay you by publishing the opening chapters of your novel (in Harding’s translation) sometime in the near future. Though I understand that The Honeycomb Chronicles has now been shelved once and for all, I am led to believe that a third novel is on its way. If a healthy and talented translator can be found, my publishing house would be happy to consider it.