Books: Other Non-Fiction |
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Other Non-Fiction

Under the catch-all classification of Other Non-Fiction I’m glad to have an excuse for re-running the constituent pieces of Flying Visits, a book of which I was fond at the time, because it got me out and about. Current readers might be amused to find just how thoroughly the simplest facts have changed. To take only one example, there are now three times as many Boeing 747s in the world as there were when I was trying to impress the reader with a statistic only a quarter of a century or so ago. They just never stopped building the things. Since scanning never really worked -- at at the time of writing in 2011, it still doesn’t — the chapters, for accuracy’s sake, had to be typed up: no technical challenge perhaps, but a dedicated effort, first of all by Cecile Menon and then Henriette Guthauser. Later on, Henriette, not yet aware that her church in Switzerland would call her away to higher duties, took on the task of transcribing Fame in the 20th Century, a stretch of hard labour later completed by her successor, Susie Young. I have large plans to illustrate the texts in the course of time, and in the case of Fame in the 20th Century it would be appropriate to embed videos, thus to restore some of the interplay between word and image that marked the series on screen. Should these things be slow to appear, however, I hope the reader won’t deduce that I find these books secondary events. They meant  a lot to me at the time and still do, because they had no guaranteed literary public: they were aimed at the open market, as works of general interest, and even when I knew that Fame in the 20th Century, for copyright reasons, had no future as a television series, it occupied all my attention as a text. I never tried harder than with those seemingly elementary sentences.