Friday, 25 February 2011

Hans Fallada VS Billy Childish + Name Confusion = Octopoid Connectivity...

Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen was the real name of the author we know as Hans Fallada.  Although a writer of some standing in Germany his reputation faded following the destructive chaos of WWII and he might have been completely forgotten were it not for the decision of Melville House Publishing to reprint certain titles in English. The Penguin edition of Alone In Berlin subsequently became a bestseller although in American the book is known as Every Man Dies Alone. (The German title is Jeder stirbt für sich allein).

As you might have worked out from the previous post I am an admirer of the American writer Denis Johnson.  For a long while I also thought he was one of the people who set up Melville House.  Why?  Because one of their founder publishers is named Dennis Johnson.  "The same name!" I hear you cry.  Get a proof reader dear reader and look again - Dennis Johnson - Denis Johnson.  That "n" makes all the difference.  I'm not just saying that either.  Look at the photos below...

Even through the blur you should be able to see that on the spine of Denis Johnson's gothic classic Already Dead he is named as Dennis Johnson rather than Denis Johnson.  That mattered to Denis.  Legend has it (aged bookseller gossip!) he quit Picador UK because of it.  

We now arrive at the section of this post known as Billy Childish.   Guess what?  That's not his real name...he's actually called Steven John Hamper.  The connections are becoming octopoid.  Billy, whose mother lives in Whitstable, can often be found in Harbour Books where I now occasionally work.  Who is the subject of much of Billy's recent work?  Canvases painted in an old fisherman's hut just behind the bookshop?  

You guessed it...Hans Fallada.  Or should that be Rudolf...?...(exhausted blogger collapses backwards as relieved readers click away!) 

To buy Hans Fallada books go here.  

To buy Billy Childish books go here.  

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