One Too Many Bowler Hats?

A small man in a luminous yellow and bold red jacket pushed a well-packaged parcel containing a proof copy of Boris Yasmilye’s new novel, The Bastard, through my letterbox this morning. I will begin to read it tomorrow, Bulgarian dictionary in hand, and will return to this blog sometime late next week to water its barren soil with a few fertilising thoughts.

Before I do that, let me toss into the empty field a couple of earthy clods, registering my disappointment at a choice made by Yashmilye’s publishing house regarding the book cover. For those who haven’t seen it, it features a well-known painting by my third favourite Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte, showing the back of a man with well-combed hair looking into a mirror showing the back of a man with well-combed hair.

Across the oceans and seas we sigh. A Rene Magritte painting on the cover of an obscure European novel? One could not be less original if one tried. The fact is, book covers of obscure European novelists have been haunted by Magritte’s oh-so-mysterious images since somewhere near the beginning of time. All it takes is for the narrative to give at least a hint of a story within a story, or a cavalier approach to common novelistic trends, and some pigeon-brained sandbag at the publishing house art department drags another Magritte painting from his dangerously full drawer of well-worn ideas. Move on, say I! There must be something better with which to adorn Yashmilye’s carefully ordered collection of words? Surely?

More on this later.

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5 thoughts on “One Too Many Bowler Hats?

  1. Oddly, even coincidentally, a small man in a luminous yellow and bold red jacket pushed a well-packaged parcel containing a well-thumbed Bulgarian dictionary through my letterbox this morning. I will begin to read it tomorrow. It doesn’t contain a Magritte painting on the cover- instead this cover is ennobled by a tasteful photograph of a truffle, the mushroom, not the chocolate- but strangely some human hand has written inside: To Rene Magritte, my second favourite Belgian surrealist. Remember the cowshed!

  2. An intriguing state of affairs indeed.

    Incidentally, isn’t Ennobled by a Truffle the title of a poem by French writer Auguste Champe?

  3. It might be. But I don’t like to be reminded of the existence, or not, of Champe ever since that incident in Grenoble…dead pensioners- not one but two!- a bank heist, two pots of green paint, and me dragged in as Champe’s alibi.

  4. It was four. I just thought people might feel said four was too fantastical for credibility, and so halved the numbers. Life as ever, or at least occasionally, is proven stranger than fiction.
    You’re certainly, by the way, well informed about all matters literary, not that I imagined anything else.

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