Mr. Cotta had thick reddish hair topped by straight sideburns that almost made his head the head of a Napoleonic marshal. Unfortunately, instead of wearing funnel-necked coats, he followed the sillier and more ephemeral fashions, from khaki jumpsuits to tight black leather pants. And he retired his wardrobe so quickly that the only invariable thing about him was the coppery coat, of which he was very proud. From time to time he took a comb out of a pocket, reached for a mirror and the rebellious vibe in him was tamed. Despite his lack of success, his conviction that he harvested them without pause led him to behave like a divo, or as he liked to say, as a “first sword” or member of the “little bud.” In bowling to which he was invited, for example, he demanded a first class ticket, a suite room at the hotel and all expenses paid, for the payment of which he collected bills even when he bought a tie or a pen in the city visited. The amazing thing was that this attitude worked for him: his hosts, hearing him complain with such imperiousness and poise, became self-conscious and gave in to his whims, even though deep down they knew that his real importance did not match that of theirs. claims of him. She was like those ugly women who, by lineage or by character, go through life as if they were beauties and end up persuading not a few leading men that they are.
There was one element, however, that undermined Mr. Cotta’s illusory world, and that was money. No matter how much he freeloaded here and there, his earnings were meager, especially for the luxury train he was imposing on him.”the cream” literary with whom he aspired to rub shoulders. In a short space of time, his father died —which he secretly celebrated, since he was sorry to the others— and his mother—which really saddened him, but to the others he pretended to be stoic and whole. They left him an appreciable inheritance, consisting mainly of several flats in an unremarkable but wealthy city, from which he was originally from. He hastily sold them, and with the resulting fortune he set up a small and exquisite publishing house. As he was a studious and up-to-date man —he had already written his fanciful essay on Gordigorski, despite the fact that Gordigorski had never existed—, he hit on two or three titles that sold excellently, which made his label acquire prestige and many authors they fell into the superstition of believing that publishing in Enigma would open the doors of critical praise and reading passion. And so it happened, for a time: the originals were stacked in the offices of Enigma and Mr. Cotta had a choice, not only between novices but between consecrated ones. Several of the latter helped to increase its prestige and business, and some of the former were hailed as “budding giants of our letters,” critics often willing to make extraordinary discoveries and—if the gigantic is confirmed—to attribute them eternally. .
Mr. Cotta was greatly pleased with the power thus acquired: now that half the writers in the country begged him to publish them, he had occasion to take revenge on a few who had once made him ugly, or had not invited him to something, or a conquest had been taken from him. But Cotta did not want to succeed as a publisher of others, but as an author, which he had always dreamed of. And being a tireless man with boundless ambition, he was able to combine his editorial work with writing, and managed to extract from his computer what he himself judged a masterful text that the public would also devour. Trusting in the luck that his publishing house brought, he committed the inelegance of publishing himself in it, to see if the aura of his brand would rub off on him. But it didn’t: his masterpiece got lukewarm reviews, and Enigma’s warehouse was overflowing with sad returns from bookstores.
That unexpected bitterness (now it was difficult for him to deceive himself, because he had figures and therefore comparisons in his possession) led him to the greatest absurdity that a publisher can incur: he began to envy and detest his most successful authors, and, what is worse, to boycott his books. If reissues of a title followed one another, he lied to the writer, told him that his sales were going badly against appearances, and he pocketed the profits that would have corresponded to him. But this was not enough for him: if the impressions accumulated —even if they were “clandestine”, without the knowledge or benefit of the creator—, the truth annoyed him unspeakably. So, in a suicidal act, he chose to interrupt them. The booksellers asked him for copies, and he did not serve them, trusting that everything is temporary and that the readers would get tired of asking for an unfindable title and that, sooner or later, the demand would cease. With this he was harmed, because he stopped entering large sums of money, but he felt compensated by the disappointment of the author, who would see his sales languish and who he would gradually plunge into poverty. He deserved it, for stealing the limelight and for being arrogant. Mr. Cotta couldn’t stand the success of others, least of all in his own house.
Exclusive content for subscribers
read without limits
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.