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December 11th, 2013
bookslut @ :
Announcing Chicago's Orphan's Christmas (Turducken Salon)
December 27th, 7:00 pm
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
RSVPs REQUIRED: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, we are serving Turducken and other holiday treats. (BYOB)
A night for those of us without homes to go back to, or would just rather not. In that lonely lag where everyone else has scattered for holiday cheer. Readings, socializing, and very good food.
We promise zero Christmas music and no screenings of It's a Wonderful Life. (Although I do watch that every year, and cry like a crazy person from about minute ten to the end.) Just three talented writers and all the food you can possibly put in your body.
MATTILDA BERNSTEIN SYCAMORE is the author of The End of San Francisco, one of my favorite books of the year. Her writings on desire and community, of choosing a life on the margins, break my heart every time.
ZAK MUCHA is one of my favorite Chicago writers. He has a beautiful essay forthcoming in the next Spolia, and Heavyweight Champion of Nothing is one of those books that defy categorization and expectations.
CHARLES BLACKSTONE wrote a novel called Vintage Attraction and is the managing editor of a literary magazine called, um, Bookslut? I don't know, I've never heard of it.
* We are holding this salon in my living room, hence the being coy about the address. (I have a shitty ex-boyfriend with stalker-like tendencies, if you must know.) You'll receive the address when you RSVP.
smallbeerpress @ : Valley Gives 2013
As with last year, here in the happy valley tomorrow, 12/12 (a date that works in the UK and here!) is day of giving where local charities and nonprofits all collaborate in a day of fundraising and giving. Everyone has their list of fave organizations they support to whatever degree they can (more in a good year! a little in a bad year!). Here are a few groups we support and recommend:
Our basic recs (from our links) page: Greenpeace | Amnesty | Habitat | Partners in Health | Heifer | Franciscan Hospital for Children | Ronald McDonald Houses (Springfield, MA) | Children’s Hospital Boston | Worldreader | Kiva (great present for kids to see how they can make a difference) | Fistula Foundation
Recommended by GiveWell:
Nurse Family Partnership | Youth Villages | and the fascinating Give Directly
And a few more good local things—feel free to add more in the comments.
Northampton Survival Center
Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways
WFCR — which is part of NEPR now. You may have heard our ads on WNNZ, the AM station. One of the reasons I love them is their use of Stone Roses, Neko Case, and other great music in between stories.
If you know people with too much stuff (and if they already have all our books), gifts to any of these orgs make great holiday presents!
December 10th, 2013
bookslut @ :
What We're Reading
I consider myself a faithful monogamist when it comes to my reading habits: one book, one time. However, I found myself taking a more adulterous turn, when a package of three books arrived at my door, each begging me to read it first. The radical solution? A Mess of Greens became my morning subway book, Chasing the White Dog became my evening commute book, and The Weiser Field Guide to Ghosts became my bedtime book. What can I say, other than we humans crave variety.
Chasing the White Dog and A Mess of Greens explore the gendered sphere of southern staples; places where “woman” means a kitchen and “men” means back shed distilleries.
Both are hidden worlds, where secrets are traded, truths are told, and social norms and expectations get boiled down into rich, distilled liquor or runoff potlikker. Both books are eager to ask the question of whose food and why? As a southerner, I’m quite defensive towards the easy notions about our food being yoked into the realm of cheap Paula Deen spin offs and one-dimensional views of unhealthy trigger trinities of “fatty, salty, and fried.” Our food and spirits, as well as our attitudes toward such enjoyments, is so much more about class, scarcity, and how the legacies of slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow, pushed women together in kitchens and men into bootlegging operations.
Meanwhile, The Weiser Field Guild to Ghosts offers a lighter approach to the many spirits of history out there, less a dive into history and more a layman’s approach to the unknown. Ghosts too have suffered the pangs of being cast into one-dimensional boxes, suffering the affects of a culture that has little to no concern for the vast difference between ancestral ghosts versus a psychopomp. But like the previous two books, Buckland offers a link to the past if we are just willing to take it. “If death is the end of everything, if time stops dead in its tracks for the deceased, there would be no such thing as ghosts. But it is the very appearance of a ghost that signals that death is not the end; that some form of energy connected to the deceased continue.” If we can’t understand our pasts, how will we ever come fully into the present? More so, can we ever place our faith in the unknown?
All these books are chasing ghosts in one way or another: Watman is chasing the ghosts of white lightning, eager to revive the imbibing spirits of the South, Engelhardt is seeking the ghosts that haunt the cultural implications, memory, and misplaced nostalgia of southern cuisine, and of course, Buckland is the man that implores us to really look for and believe in the ghosts that walk around us. Each book is a small dedication towards walking backwards into a past, touching on the need for survival whether through blind faith in the unknown, tender biscuits made by hands hanging tightly to social norms, or keeping alive a great-uncles recipe for moonshine.
In our December issue, Coco Papy interviewed Trisha Low and reviewed Samantha Geimer's The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski.
December 9th, 2013
bookslut @ :
Image by Giovanna Garzoni
"I know the right word is 'widower' but everyone turns into a girl when the person they love most dies. Their bodies get small and they make small sounds. They don't know what to do."
Can we talk about how amazing Rebecca Brown is? I don't even remember how I first discovered her, it was just like her books were suddenly there in my apartment, tearing me apart.
So above is from her magnificent essay in The Stranger, and a friend valiantly brought me a print copy of this from her travels, just so I could have a version of it on my hands and not just on my screen.
"But then I actually read some of the work (an autobiography called Story of a Soul, letters, poems). That word "little" she uses is about her awareness that most of us are never going to do huge, important things—we'll never be crusaders or heroes or write as great as Virginia Woolf; we'll never have to make a choice as hard as Sophie's or probably any choice that's truly a matter of life and death. We'll mostly just lead forgettable little lives. These are lives in which you'll be irritated by someone fidgeting next to you when you want them to be quiet, or by someone splashing water on you because they're clumsy. There will be times you'll want, if you're like Therese, to glare, or if you're like me, to throttle whoever is bugging you. But also, if you're like Therese, there will be times you will decide to not. Part of Therese's "little" way is to recognize that though you are both insignificant and often very petty in your head, you don't have to always act like that."
That's from her essay about relics and St. Therese, and reading it made me want to be a better writer and reader.
And I remember when I was reading her book The Last Time I Saw You, this line that burned into my head that I have carried around since: "Want will not undo itself."
And then in the new issue of Spolia, we got to publish an amazing poem by her called "The Thing."
they and/or it desired things
they and/or it saw or not saw
they wanted deep and longed and
wanted in the mouth
the thing had a mouth
It is creepy and messy and so wonderful.
You should be reading Rebecca Brown. I feel about her the way I feel about Kathy Acker, despite the difference in style and approach, just like they both have a direct line in. Maybe start here.
December 7th, 2013
markdoty @ : An Exemplary Sentence #3/Marvelous Statements Concerning New York #3
At night, when the big Broadway lights go on, when the lights begin to run around high in the sky and up and down the sides of buildings, when rivers of lights start flowing along the edges of roofs, and wreaths and diadems begin sparkling from dark corners, and the windows of empty downtown offices begin streaming with watery reflections of brilliance, at that time, when Broadway lights up to make a night-time empire out of the tumbledown, makeshift daytime world, a powdery pink glow rises up and spreads over the whole area, a cloudy pink, an emanation, like a tent made of air and color.
Maeve Brennan, "A Snowy Night on West Forty-Ninth Street"
December 6th, 2013
bookslut @ :
A little acidic remedy for those who maybe read The New York Times list of the ten best books of the year, or read Publisher's Marketplace:
"Oh yes, they're all at it now, you know. It's not enough to be stinking rich, land yourself one of the most powerful jobs in television and have two million readers paying good money every week to find out about the dry rot in your skirting-board: these people want fucking immortality! They want their names in the British Library catalogue, they want their six presentation copies, they want to be able to slot that handsome hardback volume between the Shakespeare and the Tolstoy on their living-room bookshelf. And they're going to get it. They're going to get it because people like me know only too well that even if we decide we've found the new Dostoevsky we're still not going to sell half as many copies as we would of any old crap written by some bloke who reads the weather on fucking television."
His voice rose almost to a shout on the last word. Then he sat back and ran his hands through his hair.
"So what's it like then, her book?" I asked, after he had had time to calm down a bit.
"Oh, it's the usual sort of rubbish. Lots of media people being dynamic and ruthless. Sex every forty pages. Cheap tricks, mechanical plot, lousy dialogue, could have been written by a computer. Empty, hollow, materialistic, meretricious. Enough to make any civilized person heave, really." He stared ruefully into space. "And the worst of it is that they didn't even accept my bid. Somebody tipped me by ten grand. Bastards. I just know it's going to be the hit of the spring season."
From Jonathan Coe's The Winshaw Legacy
smallbeerpress @ : Clarion 2014
Hey, want to spend 6 weeks in San Diego writing with some of the best sf&f writers around?
Applications are now open for the 2014 Clarion Writers Workshop. This year’s instructors are Gregory Frost, Geoff Ryman, Catherynne Valente, N.K. Jemison, Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer.
Applications are taken until March, but the application fee rises from $50 to $65 in mid-February.
December 5th, 2013
smallbeerpress @ : Holiday shipping 2013
Time for a quick annual reminder that holiday mail dates are coming up fast. Our office will be closed as usual from December 20 – January 1, 2014. (Of course, Weightless is always open.)
Here are the last order dates for Small Beer Press—which are not the same as everyone else, see note about the office being closed above. Dates for international shipping are here.
We ship all books media mail for free in the USA. If you want to guarantee pre-holiday arrival, please add on Priority Mail.
|Domestic Mail Class/Product
||Cut Off Date
|First Class Mail
|smallbeerpress @ : Where are they now: Heidi Smith
I worked in the el-hi (elementary and secondary school) textbook publishing industry in Massachusetts for five years, managing projects for clients such as Houghton Mifflin, National Geographic, and McGraw-Hill. The book projects ranged from 2-4,000 pages, with teacher editions, student editions, and various grade levels and subjects. We produced print books, online materials, CDs, interactive lessons, magnets, and other ancillary materials.
My next move was to Washington, DC, to work as an editor in nonfiction business trade publishing. I worked closely with authors and designers, producing at least eight titles per year as the lead editor. The editing ranged from copyediting to developmental and structural editing, depending on the needs of the manuscripts and authors. I also edited and wrote marketing collateral to support the books and the organization, and supported other editors by proofreading their books.
After working in the busy world of publishing, I’m looking forward to the next opportunity. Although I enjoyed textbook and nonfiction business publishing, I’d like to expand and learn from other markets.
After some amazing vacations to the British Virgin Islands and Tanzania, Africa, I currently live in Northern California, where I’m taking a deep breath and focusing on my own writing once again. I’m reading some great books, and working on freelance opportunities.
Heidi Smith volunteered for us back in the summer of 2006. Read more in the Where Are They Now series.