PEN will have a booth there, space #35, in
9:45-10:45 Colin Channer & Ana CastilloAnd, at 11:30, we’ll be giving away free copies of PEN America to the first 50 writers and readers who come by to say hello. We’ll answer questions about the mission of PEN America, how to subscribe and support the magazine, etc. So come see us.
1:00-1:30 Mo Willems
1:30-2:30 Mary Gaitskill & Jonathan Safran Foer
2:30-3:30 PEN President Francine Prose & A.M. Homes
3:30-4:30 George Packer & Tim McLoughlin
4:30-5:30 Mohammed Naseehu Ali
The night before the festival, a “Book Festival Gala VIP event” will be held, where beloved
...at some point during the conversation, Beckett told me that he had just finished translating Mercier et Camier, which was his first French novel; it had been written about twenty-five years earlier.
I had read the book in French and liked it very much, and I said, “A wonderful book.” I was just a kid, after all. I couldn’t suppress my enthusiasm.
Beckett shook his head and said, “Oh no, no, not very good. In fact, I’ve cut out about 25 percent of the original. The English version’s going to be a lot shorter than the French.
And I said (remember how young I was), “Why would you do such a thing? It’s a wonderful book. You shouldn’t have taken a word out.”
He shook his head and he said, “No, no, not very good, not very good.”
We went on to talk about other things, and then, out of the blue, ten or fifteen minutes later, apropos of nothing, he leaned forward across the table and he said to me, very earnestly, “You really liked it, huh? You really thought it was good?”
This was Samuel Beckett, remember. And not even he had any idea of what his work was worth. Good or bad, meaningful or not, no writer ever knows, not even the best ones. And I suppose especially not the best ones.