Horace Bent Bent’s Notes


Bent’s Notes Horace Bent @horacebent

The finest thing to come out of Norway since Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s tactical brain, Karl Ove Knausgaard was the talk of the Messe on day two

Toil and stubble: shorn Karl cuts a fine Messe


here have been many pressing questions over the course of this Frankfurt Book Fair. “Where the bloody hell is this ‘Festhalle’?” “Who at this bar has yet to exhaust their expenses account?” But none seems to have excited and distressed more fairgoers than: “What the hell has

happened to Karl Ove Knausgaard’s beard?” Yes, like Samson shorn of his locks, or David Gandy de-stubbled, or David Fickling divorced from his polka-dot dickie-bow, seeing the Norwegian sex god without his trademark salt-and-pepper scruff just didn’t sit well with many during his star turn at the Guest of Honour pavilion at yesterday’s fair. “Is that really him?” one woman of a certain age asked tremulously, not bothering to hide her disappointment. “My goodness, he looks so... normal.” It seems ol’ Karl has been demoted to join a handful of male publishing mortals, known only as “FFP”. Which, as the youth at Frankfurt assures me, is the acronym for “fit for publishing”. Charming. Juergen Boos, however, certainly was charmed. The FBF boss had tried to persuade the My Struggle author to come to Frankfurt for many years, and his Teutonic cool was almost reduced to the level of a giggly “Game of Thrones” fanboy seeing George R R Martin at ComicCon. From My Struggle, to Our Struggle. As I write, it seems

“Is that really him?” one woman of a certain age asked tremulously, not bothering to hide her disappointment. “He looks so... normal”

Pictured Forget the Book of the Fair: talk this year was about the Beard of the Fair, or more specifically, its absence from the chin of Norwegian smörgåsbord Karl Ove Knausgaard

that Churchill biographer (well, sort of) and FutureBook 2019 keynote (just a mater of contracts, I’m assured, as he’s such a vigorous supporter of tech entrepreneurs) Boris Johnson has secured a deal that will deliver the United Kingdom from the clutches of the evil Brussels bureaucracy. Or alternatively, strip it out of the benevolent institution that has kept the peace in Western Europe for a generation. (Delete according to your political affiliation.) Hands up: how many of you in the British contingent are contemplating remaining in Frankfurt and claiming political asylum? For those of you not in the British contingent, yes, it really is that bad: we’re contem- plating staying in Frankfurt. Perhaps post-Brexit Britain won’t be the apocalypse that many think it will be. At least it will be nice not having to talk

about Brexit, won’t it? One agent, who shall remain name- less, even channelled the Dunkirk spirit (er, sort of) by bringing a slice of Blight to the Festhalle in the form of an electric ketle, kept at their desk to ensure a steady supply of good old builders’ tea. Take that, Euro-weinies.

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