A recent article in the Atlantic heralded the value of independent publishers as vehicles for promoting creative and original literature, and honestly, we couldn’t agree more! It seems a natural fit for an independent bookstore to be enamored with independent publishers, but allow us to reiterate a few of the points from the article and count the ways we love the indies presses:
Indie presses are small but loud trumpets. Right now, amid the sea of literature, indie presses are finding the most unique and adventurous voices in prose and verse. And not just in contemporary literature, either. Several smaller presses are re-discovering classic works that has been neglected by other publishers and are offering them again for new readers to enjoy.
Indie presses are free! Their small size is actually a big benefit, allowing for tightly curated catalogues and a boldness to publish work that isn’t always for every reader. The larger publishing houses have to produce works that appeal to the wider, reading public. A great, well-written story is still a great, well-written story, but indie presses don’t necessarily share the same restrictions. They can dwell in the strange or the experimental or the subtle – they can take the bigger risks – and still find a receptive audience.
Indie presses are local. Ahh! They live among us! Right here in our cities and towns. (But no really, Austin: A Strange Object, Write Bloody, Awst Press etc. etc.) Supporting them is supporting your neighbors.
Indie presses are, well, independent. There’s no million dollar book deals with the aim of producing feature films or miniseries for large multimedia companies (not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of thing). Just real authors grinding out real work.
So, in praise of all things small – all things quirky and gritty and especially independent – we celebrate Indie Presses, keeping our imaginations sharp and our literature fresh
This month we’re thrilled to highlight New York Review Books – a publisher immediately recognizable from the bookshelf for the familiar, uniform covers of their NYRB Classics Series – the flagship of their catalogue. Not your typical, college reading list faire, the Classic Series draws attention to authors often overlooked or underrepresented. And a large portion of these books are translated works, reminding us that a whole world of great literature exists beyond the English language that we don’t always get the opportunity to experience. NYRB also publishes a robust Children’s Collection – everything from preschool picture books to chapter books – that serve to introduce young readers to classic, endearing titles. Favorites here include The 13 Clocks by James Thurber and Esther Avrill’s Jenny and the Cat Club series. Offered in simple, pocket-sized paperbacks, the NYRB Poetry series provides eclectic collections of verse from talented poets around the globe. You’ll want to check out the collections from Silvina Ocampo, Sakutarō Hagiwara, and Alexander Vvedensky. And brand new for 2016, New York Review Comics delivers its first offering with Mark Beyer’s Agony – a revival of one of the great, underground comics of the‘80s and early ‘90s.
So come by the BookPeople, check out some of these fantastic titles from NYRB for yourself, and support your local, independent bookstore by supporting your favorite independent presses!
Thus Were Their Faces – Silvinia Ocampo
Thus Were Their Faces offers a comprehensive selection of the short fiction of Silvina Ocampo, undoubtedly one of the twentieth century’s great masters of the story and the novella. Here are tales of doubles and impostors, angels and demons, a marble statue of a winged horse that speaks, a beautiful seer who writes the autobiography of her own death, a lapdog who records the dreams of an old woman, a suicidal romance, and much else that is incredible, mad, sublime, and delicious. Italo Calvino has written that no other writer “better captures the magic inside everyday rituals, the forbidden or hidden face that our mirrors don’t show us.” Jorge Luis Borges flatly declared, “Silvina Ocampo is one of our best writers. Her stories have no equal in our literature.”
Dark, gothic, fantastic, and grotesque, these haunting stories are among the world’s most individual and finest.
Stoner – John Williams (A BookPeople staff favorite!)
The critic Morris Dickstein has said that John Williams’s Stoner “is something much rarer than a great novel—it is a perfect novel,” and in the last decade this austere and deeply moving tale of a Midwestern college professor has been embraced by readers all over the world. Here, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Stoner, NYRB Classics offers a special hardback edition of the book that also includes a previously unpublished correspondence between John Williams and his agent about its writing and publication
The School For Cats – Esther Averill
Jenny Linsky, the famous little black cat of Greenwich Village, has never been to school before. When her master, Captain Tinker, sends her to a boarding school in the country to learn the special knowledge of cats—manners and cooperation—she is a little afraid, among strangers, and so far from home. As soon as she’s settled in, taking off the red scarf that makes her feel brave, another student named Pickles, the Fire Cat, is up to his usual mischief, chasing smaller cats with his fire truck hook and ladder. When he chases Jenny, she runs away from school terrified.
Jenny soon realizes that the Captain would be disappointed if he found out she had left school. It’s then that Jenny decides to stand up to Pickles. She returns to school and when Pickles next tries his tricks, he’s surprised at the “new” Jenny. Pickles learns his manners and Jenny learns that not only can school be fun, but the friendships she makes there will last forever.
Agony – Mark Beyer
ENJOY THE ECSTASY OF AGONY. Amy and Jordan are just like us: hoping for the best, even when things go from bad to worse. They are menaced by bears, beheaded by ghosts, and hunted by the cops, but still they struggle on, bickering and reconciling, scraping together the rent and trying to find a decent movie. It’s the perfect solace for anxious modern minds, courtesy of one of the great innovators of American comics. Now if only Amy’s skin would grow back …