Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Gary Pulsifer’

Remembering Gary Pulsifer

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 26th March, 2016

Gary PulsiferThe American publisher, Gary Pulsifer, who died yesterday from cancer chose to spend most of his professional life in England, where he became a much-loved feature of London’s literary scene. Quite small and slight, he was a bundle of energy, with a waspish tongue that relished mocking the pretentious without being viscious. I met him through the novelist Francis King, at whose dinner parties Gary would keep up a running commentary on authors of the day, including special favourites such as Shere Hite, as well as giving devastating impersonations of figures such as his earstwhile employer, Peter Owen. Gary thrived on gossip, whether it was the latest goings-on within the tightly-knit expat community in Tangiers or the tempestuous domestic life of Britain’s royal family. He really came into his own when he founded Arcadia, which became one of the UK’s most interesting independent publishers, though one that often lived from hand to mouth. Finance was not Gary’s strong suit. However, he did have an eye for interesting new ventures, spotting the potential of Norwegian and other Nordic fiction long before this became mainstream. His personal life had its ups and downs, which is largely why he ended up living at the Retreat at Park Langley, where members of the book trade on limited incomes could roost. He seemed unperturbed by being surrounded by fellow residents who were considerably older than himself, and he relished the chance to garden in the Retreat’s grounds. Eventually Arcadia went into receivership, and not very long after it was bought out and relaunched he was dismissed. The official reason for this was financial savings, but Gary commented stoically that he could see it coming as there was not room for more than one big fish in such a small pond. While ending his days in a hospice, typically he left instructions that there should be no funeral, but I do hope there will in time be a giant wake, at which his legions of friends will drink late into a summer’s afternoon, while Gary emits his characteristic shriek of mock horror and delight from the beyond.

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Facebook, Reinstate Tom Brake!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 10th July, 2009

Tom Brake 2Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, was dismayed this morning to discover that his Facebook account has been disabled and that he has been removed as administrator of a number of Facebook campaign groups, without any explanation or warning. This move is perverse and should be reversed. Tom has been a model among London MPs in employing Facebook to engage with his constituents through electronic media and to reach out successfully to younger voters who tend to by-pass more traditional ways of campaigning. An excellent example of the effective use Tom and his team have made of the site was last night’s rally in Wallington to save the N213 night bus. As Tom rightly commented this morning, ‘Much of my casework comes through Facebook. The bizarre and heavy-handed decision to disable my account only hours after a protest organised through the socil networking site severrely disadvantages my constituents, who rely on the net to contact me.’

Tom Brake 3Tom had over 3,000 Friends on Facebook. I hope many of them will complain to the site managers at Facebook about this totally arbitrary decision, but so should other people who value Tom’s work and who also appreciate Facebook’s genuine contribution to social networking in its widest sense. A full explanation is needed. Did the exclusion come about after some sort of dirty tricks complaint from political opposition? Or because Tom acquired too many Friends too quickly (which is reportedly why the publisher Gary Pulsifer was kicked out of Facebook some time ago)? Whatever the reason, Tom should be informed and Facebook should acknowledge that they have made a mistake and immediately reinistate him.

[Postscript on Saturday: Facebook has now reinstated Tom, thanks. Apparently they were concerned that as he was sending regular messages to so many people in his network he must be a spammer. There’s a differece between political campaigning and spamming, guys, just as there is a difference between a Focus newsletter and a pizza flyer! Anyway, it’s good that the problem has been resolved.] 


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What Are Facebook’s Criteria for Expulsion?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 12th September, 2008

My friend, the publisher Gary Pulsifer, has been kicked off Facebook — for acquiring too many friends too quickly. Apparently, they have a set rate at which you are allowed to add people, though given how many ‘friends’ added Nick Clegg after he was elected leader of the Liberal Democrats, I am surprised he hasn’t suffered the same fate! It was a politician who persuaded me I should join Facebook: Steve Webb, MP for Northavon, who early on saw its benefits for connecting with electors, especially young people. He was right, and I have found it enormously useful, not only in politics, but in journalism, academics and keeping up with friends all round the world. But now I am nervous (well, maybe that’s putting it a bit strongly). How many friends can I accept each week before I am deemed to be bootable?

Dear Mark Zuckerberg, please can you elucidate: what are Facebook’s criteria for expelling people (other than fraudsters and scammers, of course)? And shouldn’t you let genuine compulsive networkers like Gary back in?

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Bringing Arab Literature to the UK

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 19th August, 2008

I’ve just received review copies of the first three titles produced by a new imprint on the London publishing scene: Arabia Books. Launched by two of the capital’s most adventurous independent publishers, Gary Pulsifer of Arcadia and Barbara Schwepcke of Haus, Arabia Books intends to bring out at least ten new fiction titles a year, as well distributing more than 50 additional titles of Arabic literature mainly acquired from the American University of Cairo Press (AUC). AUC has helped make known to a wider public such great Egyptian novelists at Naguib Mahfouz (who won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature) and Alaa Al Aswany (author of the wonderful The Yacoubian Building), but this new venture will bring a much greater range of Arabic-language novelists to the attention of the English-speaking world.

Arabia Books’ publishing programme does not get officially launched until next month, but that gives us critics time to get stuck into the three initial offerings: Ibrahim al-Koni’s Gold Dust, Hala El Badry’s A Certain Woman and Bahaa Taher’s Love in Exile. I have often thought that the West would understand the Arab world much better if more Arabic literature were available in English — and vice versa!

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