Received a message

I received a message from someone whose portrait I took for Expectations. Here is a translation (with the Russian original below):

Dear Simon,

First of all I want to thank you for the effort and inspiration that you put into your book about us. I received enormous pleasure reading and leafing through Expectations. Some people thought that the pictures are sad, but for me joy is often brought through more melancholy portraits rather than jolly ones. That is because they are genuine, not forced. You created a beautiful, living book. You didn’t sound a single false note, even though you poeticised our grey everyday life. Thank God, Ukrainians have at last raised themselves from their knees, and bit by bit, slowly but surely are bringing some kind of order into the country. And also I am grateful to you that, despite all the horrors, inconveniences and disasters which you encountered in the CIS, you weren’t afraid of us (and there was reason to), you respected our people, and weren't afraid to use the word love.

Your book is an important documentation of a stupid and cruel epoch. Soviet power is so arranged that it can’t stand clever, independent personalities. This accursed power is even now flowering in Russia and Belarus. The system only acknowledges personal devotion, and not professionalism. May he be a bastard – so long as he is our bastard! Well you know what happened to those who allowed themselves relationships with foreigners. You know, I too fell under the millstone of the KGB... [Some personal details removed]

I tell all my friends about your book. I hope that when you come and visit us, that you will meet the young people, who thanks to you know the history of our country better.


Дорогой Саймон! Сначала хочу поблагодарить Вас за труд и вдохновение, которые Вы вложили в свою книгу о нас. Я получила неимоверное наслаждение, читая и листая « Expectation”. Некоторым людям показалось, что снимки грустные, а мне часто радость приносят именно печальные портреты, а не веселые. Потому что они истинные, не постановочные. Вы создали красивую, живую книгу. Вы не взяли ни одной фальшивой ноты, хотя и опоэтизировали нашу серую будничную жизнь, за которую стыдно. Слава Богу, украинцы наконец-то поднялись с колен и понемногу, медленно, но уверенно наводят в стране порядок. А еще я Вам благодарна за то, что несмотря на все ужасы, неудобства и беды, которые приключились с Вами в СНД , Вы не испугались нас, не возненавидели ( а было за что), Вы уважаете, не решусь сказать любите, наших людей.

Ваша книга – это важный документ глупой и жестокой эпохи. Советская власть так устроена, что не может терпеть умных, независимых личностей. Эта проклятая власть сейчас процветает в России и Беларуси. Система признает только личную преданность, а не профессионализм. Пусть мерзавец – зато свой! Ну, а что было с теми, кто позволял себе отношения с иностранцами Вы знаете. Под жернова КГБ попала и я. [personal details removed].

О Вашей книге я рассказываю всем знакомым. Надеюсь, когда Вы приедете к нам, Вы согласитесь встретиться с молодыми людьми, которые благодаря Вам лучше будут знать историю своей страны.

I received the first copies of Expectations today!

This afternoon two substantial packages arrived for me - the first copies of Expectations! Another thirty-odd pallets will be on their way to me in the next few days.

It's a strange feeling finally to hold the finished product in my hands, after all that work, sometimes worry, long conversations into the night, and bouncing ideas back and forth, and the occasional light bulb moment, usually around 4 in the morning when I knew I had to get out of bed and find a pen and paper or I would never be able to sleep.

The book makes it all worth it. It is, I think, and I am certainly biased, gorgeous. That's in no small part due to Kehrer Verlag's meticulous attention to detail, and of course, Nanni Goebel's design skills. If you have ever looked at any of my Room with a View pictures you'll know that I am into minimalism, geometry, clean lines. But more than that, the cover design is laden with symbolism. I'll do another post about the cover and the thought behind it when there is a moment, but in the meantime, here is the (cover of the) book, Expectations, ta da!:

Printing the book - in Heidelberg

So Expectations the book is now printed. There is still the bookbinding to go until I have the final product in my hands, which will be just a couple of weeks' time.

The week before we had signed off on designer Nannie Goebel's gorgeous design. The cover is going to be just what I love - clean and modern and geometric but with an important symbolism built into it that nicely summarises the whole concept of the project - and at the same time it will be eye-catching.

I went over to Heidelberg to visit Kehrer Verlag's offices and then spent a day at the printers. The printing was a new experience - nearly 14 hours working with these impressive 'Heidelberg' machines working on one sheet after another, checking colour balance and other aspects of reproduction under a loupe before launching full production of each sheet. What particularly impressed me was the resolution of the prints, what is achievable with this offset printing process on these giant machines (I estimated it was 40-50 feet long) - I had never realised what fine detail they're capable of resolving.

I brought a set of sheets back to my hotel room and next day (after a good sleep!) cut them up with scissors to get a rough impression of how the book will look, then went round town examining the prints under every light I could think of, in cafes, rooms, outside, in buses and later in airports - ensuring that the prints are going to work. The ideal viewing conditions are bright-ish open shade, but it will work in less ideal situations too. My conclusion - it's going to look good!