AN OFFER YOU CAN’T REFUSE (I hope)
Back in 1978, when Judy and I started publishing, we had two imprints: The Permanent Press (for original titles) and Second Chance Press (for books we reprinted after they had been out of print for over 20 years). Our biggest successes way back then were for Second Chance Press releases, for these were written by some very artful writers, starting with Richard Lortz, Mitchell Goodman, Haywood Hale Broun, Dola DeJong, Charles O’Neal, and Julian Schuman, who came to us after Thomas Lask, in his “End Papers” column in the New York Times Book Review, repeated a letter we sent out to the Authors Guild, asking Guild members to consider sending us titles written two or more decades ago, which guaranteed that most readers were unaware of these still timely and exceptional books… which we still have in print.
The other day it occurred to me, “Why not do that with a recent novel that many thought was as good as it gets, yet failed to get any significant readership?” The book that immediately came to mind was David Schmahmann’s The Double Life of Alfred Buber, which we published in 2011, alongside Leonard Rosen’s All Cry Chaos. To me, Buber was “The best novel Vladimir Nabokov NEVER wrote.” Many other critics had similar reactions, as just a few of the following excerpts attest:
"Buber reads like a lost Nabokov novel; the prose is meticulously wrought, the plot deeply complex and psychologically layered. Where some novels radiate outward, this one spirals in on itself, turn by fascinating turn, exploring the inner life of a man distanced from both himself and reality by his own lies and a soul full of secret, shameful desires." —Small Press Reviews
"An unusual morality play whose artful style veils the depravity of its protagonist." —Kirkus“Schmahmann has created a character with the vividness of J. Alfred Prufrock or Humbert Humbert. Buber’s obsessions and the carefully-guarded secret life make a compelling novel.” —Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha
“Captures the desperation and love between unequals.” —Publishers Weekly
Yet the publishing business is always full of surprises. Len Rosen’s All Cry Chaos went on to have over ten thousand book and Kindle sales in America and 12 foreign subright sales, while The Double Life of Alfred Buber has sold only 448 hard cover copies to date, and has had no translations at all, though Judy and I thought Buber had equal literary value. So here comes the offering:
If we’re not selling this book, why not give it away and allow you to pass it on to others you know. It would surely make a great holiday gift to any thoughtful reader. All you need do is send an Email asking for Buber, and we’ll send you a Pdf file that you can put on your Kindle or any other electronic device.
David deserves more readers and his novel more admirers.