We / On Friendship

This morning I signed a contract with Laguna press for publication of Zarko’s and my book titled We / On Friendship. My half of the book will be translated into Serbo/Croatian. Zarko’s half is already in his native language. They will print 2500 copies.

We is our third book, after Repetitions and Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary (both available through Amazon and other booksellers in English and in Serbo/Croatian). We was scheduled to be published in English in the US this spring—we had page proofs in hand—but the publisher cancelled the agreement (more about that story at some point). So now, page proofs in hand, we’re looking for a new publisher for the English version. Wish us luck!

Here the draft cover (designed by Mark Olson):

Here the text we wrote for the cover:

This book describes a friendship, or, better said, it explores a friendship, or perhaps we should say it documents a friendship, celebrates it, performs it, a friendship that began in 1994 in Tübingen, Germany, the university town where philosophers Hegel and Schelling and poet Hölderlin were once roommates, a friendship that deepened when we crossed the Austrian/Yugoslav border to follow a character in Peter Handke’s Repetition for our book Repetitions, that matured when we traveled up the Drina River with Peter Handke and drove through south-western American landscapes for our Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary (of which a reviewer claimed that it was a two-seater with no steering wheel, a claim we contested by pointing out that the car had two steering wheels), a friendship informed by relationships with Marina Abramović, Era, Julije Knifer, Nina Pops, Alex Caldiero, Sam Rushforth, and above all Peter Handke—the hero of our books and the author of works we have translated and that have translated us.

Žarko’s genre-stretching stories assert that their realities are narratively constructed, that gender, Aristotle’s unities, and even punctuation! are, subject, to, authorial, whim. Scott writes an “approximate biography” of his friend Žarko and offers “An Amicable Correspondence” between Žarko, sonosopher Alex Caldiero, and himself. Letters by Goethe and Schiller augment the correspondence and when Schiller, approaching the end of his life, hopes that he and Goethe “can walk together down as much of the road as may remain, and with all the more profit, since the last companions on a journey always have most to say to each other,” we understand him well.

And here the first paragraphs of my half of the book—which follow’s Zarko’s half:

Žarko transports us to a South Sea island and asks what I’m writing. Your biography, I answer. He outfits me with a cigar. Takes me to hear John Zorn. Bathes me with Monique.

Although a reader may be excused for supposing the previous account a “figment of the imagination,” let me assure you that every word Žarko Radaković has written is true. As St. Nietzsche taught us in his extra-moral treatise, truth is a mobile army of metaphors.

Žarko watches me write, writes about watching me write. He assumes I’m working on his biography. That’s impossible here, at this table on the South Sea island he has imagined. The closest I have come to an island in the Pacific Ocean was by proxy. Bob Abbott, my young father-to-be, navigated a B-29 bomber from the islands of Tinian and Iwo Jima to pound the hell out of Japan. Žarko’s father Mirko Radaković fought Nazis in Yugoslavia during that same war. Both men returned home alive, courted and married our mothers, Ljubica Pantic and Janice Hilton, and we were born in 1947 and 1949 respectively.

I decide to move us from Žarko’s fantasy island to my home in Utah. Embraced by Wasatch Mountains and overlooking the shallow lake nestled in Utah Valley, I can approximate Žarko’s life in a familiar setting. At the end of the novel Pogled (The View), Žarko’s narrator asks: “Who are we ‘here’?” Who is Žarko? I will ask. Who is he “here,” in my space, in my time?

…traveling with Zarko, writing with him, translating Peter Handke’s work with him, visiting him and Anne in Cologne and Belgrade—these have been highlights of my life for more than three decades.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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6 Responses to We / On Friendship

  1. mynxxxe says:


    Get Outlook for iOS


  2. Mark Bailey says:

    Congrats, Scott! Put me on the list for a first edition signed copy of the English version. Coming to our shores soon, he says with crystal ball at hand.


  3. alex caldiero says:

    as we say in the old country: when the apple is ripe it falls. congrats to you and Zarko.


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