Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A free ticket to the Dance

As longtime readers of this site know, in my day job I’m the publicity manager at the University of Chicago Press. I try to keep that work as separate from my blogging as possible, but every once in a while the two spheres overlap—which is pretty much inevitable, given that two of my favorite authors, Richard Stark and Anthony Powell, are published by my employer.

The past week has found me getting to work on both: the new Parker novels coming out in the spring (including the elusive (and brilliant) Butcher’s Moon), and, even more exciting, brand new, e-book editions of all twelve individual volumes of Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time.

I’ve written plenty here about Dance; in some ways, this blog is one big ever-growing essay on Powell’s magnum opus. But as someone who’s spent all that time proselytizing, I can tell you that the biggest obstacle to attracting new readers is Dance’s sheer bulk. A lot of people are too daunted by the total page count to try picking it up.

That’s why I’m so excited about the new e-book—and, in particular, about the promotion Chicago is using to launch them: for the month of December, the first novel in the series, A Question of Upbringing will be available as an e-book for free. There’s more information at the University of Chicago Press’s site; you can get the book directly from them or from most e-book retailers, including such outlets as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you’ve been reading my encomiums to Dance all these years but haven’t been willing to try it, now’s your chance—you’ve got nothing to lose but a few hours, and your possible reward is a book that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

I’ll leave you with one of the best descriptions of Dance that I’ve come across lately, from Jonathan Ames’s Wake Up, Sir!:
"Jeeves and I were reading together, as a sort of two-person book club, Anthony Powell's epic, twelve-volume A Dance to the Music of Time. It's absolutely a stupendous work—almost nothing of moment occurs for hundreds of page, thousands, even, and yet one reads on completely mesmerized. It's like an imprint of life: nothing happens and yet everything happens."
As Jeeves himself might say, “Indeed.”


  1. Thanks for the info and link. Between your comments as well as Ian Wolcott's I've been wanting to start the series. This is exactly the push I needed to do so.

  2. Just wanted to say thanks for your posts! I found your blog a little while back when I was trawling the Internet trying to find anyone discussing both Wodehouse and Powell (I'd become a little obsessed with both of them right around the same time). I don't need convincing to read Dance since that was already my major reading accomplishment this year, but this post has convinced me to pick up the Ames.

  3. Wow, time to read Powell, what an offer... will link to this in my tumblr!

  4. Andrea10:04 AM

    I feel the need to point out that the real books are quite lovely. Nice design, nice paper. And if you line them up on your bookshelf they form an image of a detail of the Poussin painting after which the series is named.

    I downloaded the first book just for fun, though. Thanks!