Wednesday, January 6, 2016

when they battle in a puddle, it's a Peter Beagle puddle battle

What do we know about Peter Beagle? Well ...

After years of being fairly obscure and off the public stage, and fairly indigent too from what I understand, the once-prominent fantasy writer whose older work was still remembered had a late blossoming. He'd gotten a personal manager, Connor Cochran (known in fandom for decades, usually under his artistic pen name Freff), who was devoting himself to the energetic promotion of Peter S. Beagle and his works.

Most notably, he'd gotten the movie adaptation of Beagle's novel The Last Unicorn out of rights limbo. He organized a slow-scale nation-wide tour of screenings of the movie with Beagle in attendance. I went to the first of these, in San Francisco, three years ago and was stunned at the enthusiastic crowds and pleased at seeing Peter feted. It had become a cult movie while I wasn't paying attention. (It was the only time I'd seen the film since its first release, and not only had the suck fairy not withered it, it had if anything improved with age.)

With the same enthusiastic bounce, new Beagle books - new material, new collections of older material not previously reissued, new editions of old books - began blossoming from various presses, and I picked some of these up. There was an email newsletter which I got regularly for a while, though either it ceased some time ago or I fell off the mailing list.

So I was stunned to read this in the new Ansible: "PETER BEAGLE is suing his publisher Conlan Press and its proprietor Connor Freff Cochran; the long list of complaints filed in November begins with 'elder abuse' in various categories, fraud, defamation, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract ... Cochran claims the suit is frivolous." Followed by a comment to the effect that the publisher has become infamous for "delayed delivery and non-delivery" - I wouldn't know about that; I've never ordered anything directly from them by mail.

Yikes! At Conlan's website you may read: "Peter is facing a whole new kind of problem: his health. Those of you who have been following the Tour already know we had to suspend our shows last June because Peter was having major issues with his memory. Business and personal matters that he and I had worked on for years had completely vanished from his head, and he was also confabulating — recalling only fragments of events, then filling in the blanks with things that never happened. I certainly wasn’t going to ask him to continue on the road in that condition, so I pulled the plug. Due to continuing problems and Peter’s wish for privacy, his screening appearances are suspended indefinitely. A new version of the tour will launch in 2016 ... But Peter will be unable to attend or sign merchandise." (This is, by the way, considerably revised and somewhat expanded, though the essence is unchanged, from what it said yesterday.)

So what is going on? Whatever it is, it's very sad. Whatever else may be true, Beagle is a great author and - from my experiences with him - a really nice guy; and Freff really has done a tremendous amount of hard work to promote him. Ansible has a link, apparently to the text of the suit, but it's gone dead. I know no more than that, so I'm just passing on what's been written in public.

1 comment:

  1. It is sad to hear this news about one of my favorite authors. Regarding the "delayed delivery and non-delivery", I'm one of the people who, in 2005, ordered something from them specifically to get a signed limited-edition hardcover of Two Hearts. I'm still waiting to receive it. Every couple years they send out a note about their progress on delivering this, and they explain why it will be just a little bit longer. So I don't know what's going on behind the scenes, but it seems like they've had their share of problems.