Hands, wheels, noses, grindstones…

Exciting times between now and Christmas, as Cultured Llama embarks on production of my second story collection, Who Killed Emil Kreisler? The title story is one of the shortest in the book and is based on the death of the composer Anton Webern. Webern was shot dead by a drunken US infantryman on guard duty during a curfew in Austria at the end of World War 2. The development of the internet means that a story once to be found printed only in musical histories and biographies has now burgeoned: the soldier has been identified and his family has been engaged in an exercise to clear his name (he came in for a fusillade of criticism from devotees of the Second Viennese School). Anyway, my story is told in the first person by an anonymous ex-soldier bemused that the man he shot  after celebrating with too much ‘apple jack’ turned out to be famous. He may or may not have discovered who Emil Kreisler was before the pressure built and he became suicidal. Bob Carling at Cultured Llama likes a picture of Webern I’ve located as a possible basis for the book’s cover illustration. As always, it’s now a matter of finding out whether or not it can be used gratis: fees for using copyrighted images are so often prohibitive, but we’re hoping that the German music publisher Universal Edition, which seems to own the licence, will let us use the picture in exchange only for the usual accreditation. Otherwise, it’ll be head down in the search for others. I’d be amazed if there were a fee for using a picture of a composer, however ‘contemporary’: such images are practically ubiquitous. Maria McCarthy, who’s edited the script, is sending it to me in hard copy form with amendments for me to consider. That’s how I like it. The author’s view does not diminish just because an editor takes issue with certain matters, but it does or should result in a second look. Maybe the author could have done something better that only an editor (and thankfully not a reader of the published volume) can spot, to the author’s delight. We’ll see. I’m impressed with Cultured Llama, an independent house with a growing catalogue and great enthusiasm for the titles it chooses to publish. Kent is a long way from Abergavenny, but these days geographical distances mean little. As for the story, I guess one could forgive a soldier for having over-imbibed before going on duty with a loaded rifle when the war was all but over. What happened after is something for the imagination to chase. For sure, such a character will have become part of a wider set of moral considerations.

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