27 June 2007


by Matt Rubinstein at 5:25 pm

ukvellum.jpgThis week I got a big literal sackful of the UK edition of A Little Rain on Thursday, which for cultural reasons is spelled (and pronounced) as Vellum over there. Of course, the book was first called Vellum and was runner-up for the Australian/Vogel Award under that name; “A Little Rain on Thursday” used to be the name of the first chapter. So I’ve always been torn between the two titles, and now I don’t have to choose. Would that everything were that simple.

Now the name of the first chapter has been replaced by a word in the book’s mysterious alphabet, and your guess is as good as mine. (Perhaps not quite as good.) I hope having two titles doesn’t confuse too many people. It didn’t seem to do Harry Potter and the [Philosopher/Sorcerer]’s Stone too much harm, though those names are admittedly more similar. Maybe a better example is The Sun Also Rises, known in the UK as ¡Fiesta!— let’s not think too hard about what happened to Hemingway.


I quite like the idea of the book having different titles. After all, it’s about a manuscript that everybody interprets in their own unique way. It’s like the mysterious infinite book that can never be read the same way twice in Borges’s The Book of Sand—which also would have been a good name. Maybe for the US edition.

This version looks great—hell, they all do—and feels even better; it’s got a rough texture that suggests old parchment, it really wants to be picked up—and maybe even taken home. The mysterious alphabet has been redrawn and looks terrific, and the whole thing is pleasantly scuffed and charred. The book’s classic (or else newfangled) title lives on in the UK release date: next Thursday, the 5th of July. You can pre-order it from Amazon if you’re in that part of the world.

4 Responses to “Vellum”

  1. Dani Abade Says:

    Not sure if I like Vellum. It’s kind of a title that helps the reader – I like to give them a bit of work. I would stick by your title in portuguese. But good luck in UK.

  2. Matt Rubinstein Says:

    Thanks Dani. There’s plenty of work for the reader in the book itself, so I don’t mind giving them a little bit of help up front! What is “A Little Rain on Thursday” in Portuguese?

  3. Dani Abade Says:

    In portuguese: “Chuvisco na quinta-feira”.

  4. Fiona Green Says:

    I LOVED the title. After reading the first chapter and the way it created that notion of the unsayable. “Woah (I said to myself), that was classy, classy, classy.”
    I’ve been promoting you to my mother’s book group. Think I’ve got you on the agenda for next month.

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