Saturday, 20 October 2012

Chocolate (and publishing)

The JC column in this week’s Times Lit Supplement gives a nice, and I hope helpful, mention to the new pamphlets. Five years ago I mentioned to JC that the design, indeed the whole mini-venture (inclusive of poetry, prose, whatever took my fancy), was modelled on Alan Ross’s London Magazine Editions of the late 1960s, early 1970s. But Ross, he said, did have this advantage: he married a chocolate heiress. (Have they all been snapped up?) I admit that the books might benefit from a push, the kind of push some chocolate money might facilitate, but I’ll admit too to a stubborn, even perverse satisfaction that the thing has survived for five years without any external funding.

Despite the presence of small-press books on the Forward and Booker shortlists this year, I don’t think anyone, rightly, has got round to defining what a small press IS: you just know one when you come across one. But talking about them, and what they are for, is fun, and anyone who wants to join in, please come to this event at the London Review Bookshop on Thrusday, 15 November at 7 p.m.: the panel has David Lea of the LR shop, Nicholas Lezard, Patrick McGuinness, Nicholas Murray of Rack Press, and me.

(I read a piece this week on James Laughlin, whose New Directions press, founded in 1936, published – in most cases for the first time in the US – Apollinaire, Djuna Barnes, Borges, Paul Bowles, Brecht, Camus, Céline, Lorca, Hesse, Jarry, Joyce, Kafka, Michaux, Henry Miller, Montale, Nabokov, Neruda, Pasternak, Paz, Queneau, Rilke, Sartre, Svevo, Valéry, etc. And brought back into print Henry James, Scott Fitzgerald, E. M. Forster, Faulkner, etc. Plus poetry by Pound, Williams, Rexroth, Patchen, Oppen, Reznikoff, Olsen, Duncan, Creeley, Snyder, Levertov, etc. He didn’t turn a profit for ten years. He had steel money rather than chocolate money, but who’s fussing. As the writer points out, ‘Money is usually wasted on the rich’, but in this case not.)

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