There was a lot of dealing going on—on the many Frankfurt show floors, in the literary agents center and, of course, in the lobbies of the two key hotels, but most fairgoers seemed to agree that this wasn't one of the great years for buzzy books. Many of the more interesting ones we encountered were just below the radar or had already made their deals, or were hoping for foreign sales that never materialized—at the fair, at least. Here, in no particular order, are some of the more piquant titles we heard about, deals or no. Helen Edwards at Transworld has a novel, Masterpiece by British art critic Miranda Glover, in which an artist auctions herself off as a kind of experience art. Robert Kirby at Peters Fraser & Dunlop has a book by a man who claims to have unearthed a previously unknown Leonardo Da Vinci painting, valued at $40 million. Agent Ed Victor resold Sonny Mehta at Knopf a novel called Fan-Tan written jointly 30 years ago by the late Marlon Brando and author Donald Cannell. Mehta had bought it when he was at Pan, but then Marlon walked away from the deal; a new one was made in cooperation with his estate. A novel called Widow One, which places the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in an unusual light, as a secret agent with a microphone in her little pillbox hat, was sold by Elizabeth Sheinkman at Elaine Markson's London office to Harper's Allison Callahan. The author, Eve Pollard, wrote a 1971 bio of Jackie. German publisher Hans-Peter Ubleis said three subjects were popular in his country this year—Africa, Australia and horses—and a book he was considering from Coast agent Sandra Dijkstra had two of them. It's by Lizzie Spender, daughter of renowned British poet Sir Stephen Spender, and is The Wild Horse Diaries, about rounding up wild horses in Australia. Ursula McKenzie at Time Warner U.K. got world English rights to a memoir by a young survivor among the many girls trapped by convicted Belgian pedophile Marc Dutroux; the testimony of the author, 20-year-old Sabine Dardenne, in fact helped put Dutroux away for life. This was bought from French publisher Fixot, and has already been sold in half a dozen countries. Overlook's Peter Mayer always tries to have a big book for the fair and this year it was The Hour of the Cat, a murder mystery set in New York in 1938 with far-reaching implications for the war to come. Author Peter Quinn wrote the much-admired Banished Children of Eve some years ago, and Mayer bought world rights from agent Robin Straus, and was selling foreign himself.
Volume 251 Issue 42 10/18/2004