There’s this weird point in a book’s life when it ceases to be a collection of words, carefully organised into what’s hopefully a pleasing / exciting / readable manner that have never been inflicted on anyone but myself, and becomes a Real Thing. There are several steps on the way to that, of course: editing and copy editing and proofreading, but even by the time we’ve got to the end of that process there’s probably fewer than a dozen people who’ve read it* so even when the finished, hardcovers of loveliness arrive at Casa MacBride it’s still not made that transition to Real Thing.
No, it’s not till the book’s released into the big sticky world that it makes the transformation from wriggly caterpillar to beautiful butterfly … or slimy slug, depending on the reader.
It’s my personal belief that, like quantum particles, a novel exists in a superposition of states, both good, bad, and everywhere in-between until someone actually reads it. Then its wave function is collapsed, and we find out if it’s butterfly or slug. Or even a butterslug**.
If you think that’s just hairy nonsense, I invite you to consider Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was an international phenomenon, a bestseller that romped to the top of the charts and stayed there for ages, spawning a whole cohort of Scandi Noir imitators. I couldn’t make it past the third chapter. Absolutely hated it. Thought it was the biggest case of Emperor’s New Clothes I’d read in years. But you might’ve loved it. And that’s OK. Someone liking or loathing the book doesn’t change the book, it’s still the same words in the same order, but for one person it’s the Best Book In The World and for someone else it’s a Load Of Old Codswallop Wrapped In Nettles And Smeared With Poop. Same book.
Where was I going with this?
Ah, right: No Less the Devil is venturing out and about, getting read by people, and I don’t know if they’ll love it, hate it, or deem it a complete and utter butterslug. But someone sent me a link to a tweet by @AlexJBooks who’d recently read it, and he says:
“80% crime thriller 20% complete insanity. Loved it! Out at the end of April, be warned it’s absolutely 🦇 💩 crazy!”
I’ve never had a book described as “bat-emoji poop-emoji” crazy before, but I’ll take it. I wonder if Transworld will put that on the posters…
* And they’re all usually very nice about it, because we’re all on the same team and they’re nice people and they know that I’m very clued up on how to kill them and dispose of their corpses without attracting attention to myself.
** Which sounds better than a “slugerfly” for some reason. Less slimy…