In a few days, “Adios, Nirvana” will debut in paperback. The official date is January 10. However, unofficially it may land in bookstores in a week or two, or so the publisher tells me.
The cover artist is Istvan Banyai, whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, and Playboy. He’s also done many New Yorker magazine covers. His cover for the paperback edition captures an under-the-bridge, noir-ish view of West Seattle–very appropriate given all the bridges mentioned in the book. Istvan’s also caught that lanky, restless, every-kid look. I love this cover!
“Adios, Nirvana” comes out in a German-language edition on Feb. 10. The translation was done by Karsten Singelmann, who has translated books by John LeCarre, John Grisham, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, and many others. My knowledge of German is limited to two phrases — “Jugendherberge” (youth hostel) and “Verdammen sie rechts!” (Damn right!). Fortunately, Karsten is brilliantly bilingual. I had a good time trading e-mails with him. He had lots of subtle questions. For example:
“Page 30: ‘Flat Ass rises like a biscuit and floats away.’ We can’t quite picture that. How does a biscuit rise?”
“Page 40: About Mimi’s face — not beautiful, ‘but a face you see from a great distance, very focused.’ I translated that without actually understanding it. Can you explain — why from a great distance?”
Hmmm. Not easy to answer — because I wasn’t always sure of the meaning myself. Karsten’s questions reinforced a basic rule of writing — keep it clear, don’t muddy the water.
It pleases me to think that the youths of Munich, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, etc. will get to meet the “Thicks,” that shaggy gang that struts across West Seattle jamming on guitars and eating vodka-injected grapes.
The German cover has a grungy, Kurt Cobain-ish look. I like this one, too, but the band Nirvana was not my main motive for the title — kind of a secondary one, though.
Earlier this year, YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association) placed “Adios, Nirvana” on its list of 2011 Best fiction for Young Adults. I was greatly honored. The book has been nominated for a couple of other honors as well. It’s nice to receive good feedback, but what’s important is that we write the books we need to write. When you dig deep and answer your own needs, you’re more likely to say something meaningful to others.
Marcel Proust said it much better: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Happy holidays to all!