Tue 30 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

We don’t need Time to tell us who our heroes are but it’s nice that we agree on at least one: Kim Stanley Robinson.

He sees creating utopias as a technical challenge to his craft — they’re hard to do convincingly and interestingly. But he also sees them as an empty ecological niche in the imagination; if only to maximise cultural biodiversity, he wants that niche filled.

Winter: no. Winterpills: yes!

Mon 29 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

One of our fave local bands are on a short tour with Cake—although I think they’re headlining ye olde Iron Horse here themselves.

And there’s more Winterpillian good news: there’s a new album on the way, Central Chambers, only a couple of weeks away. Kelly heard them playing on the radio the other day so you can probably find that somewhere. The whole album seems to be online at Virb, although it will sound so much better live or at least on decent speakers.

  • Tuesday, September 30, 2008 in Winterpills in Albany, NY at The Palace
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2008 in Winterpills in Sayreville, NJ at Starland Ballroom
  • Thursday, October 2, 2008 in Winterpills in Baltimore, MD at Pier Six
  • Friday, October 3, 2008 in Winterpills in Waterville, ME at Colby College
  • Saturday, October 25, 2008 in Winterpills in Northampton, MA at The Iron Horse

Kelly on the radio

Mon 29 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Listen to Kelly (and a couple of other writers) talking about horror, love, and more and read excerpts from the stories in Pretty Monsters on WPR’s To the Best of Our Knowledge. She’s the third segment after Andrew Davidon (The Gargoyle) and Richard Hand (Terror on the Air!: Horror Radio in America, 1931 – 1952). You can choose streaming audio or a Real player file.

Come work by us

Fri 26 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Uncategorized, | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Hey, the Paragon Arts Building in Easthampton (whose website is about to be updated!) has spaces for rent. So, come on over to the shabby-chic artistic center of Ea-Ho (no, not really) where all the kids are renting spaces and making art not war. And, we’ll get $100 credit off our rent if you tell them we sent you. So, what we’re looking for is a about six new tenants a month, ok?


Thu 25 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

What about this graphic from the WaPo is unclear?

Under McCain, the richest people get the biggest cuts (by percentage and by dollar count).

Under Obama, the top 1% of earners will have to pay more taxes. 99% of people will pay the same or less. Which plan is fairer?

Isn’t that John Kessel?

Thu 25 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

John KesselCheck out the art on this poster (and go see the man himself if you’re Raleigh, NC) and then decide whether it is in fact Prof. Kessel’s profile pointing the way to the future.

Also on the web, Colleen pointed us toward Justin’s fantastic short story playlist: an online short story anthology picked out by Justin for Guys Lit Wire.

LCRW + chocolate

Tue 23 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 8 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

LCRW means Loads of Chocolate something something....LCRW update: we’re in the middle of thinking about being in the middle of reading and putting together a new issue of LCRW for publication in November. We have stories, drawings, horses.

One thing we are wondering about is whether those smart and happy subscribers who receive a bar of chocolate each time with their zine would mind if we sent out a lovely but cheaper bar this time (except for those whose subscriptions are about to expire) and a lovely but expensive bar next time? Any thoughts? We’d love to hear.

Besides the chocolate bar subscribers, another choice proving happily popular is Option 6, “Newness,” which for $89 comprises: a random chapbook; 4 issues of the zine and a good chocolate bar with each issue & all our fall 2008 books The Ant King and Other Stories (pb), The King’s Last Song, The Serial Garden, and Couch). Otherwise, about $107.

Bookshow follow up: 3 (of 3) [for now]

Mon 22 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Let the product do the talkingThe Brooklyn Book Festical was 1) great 2) too damn hot. In fact we’re not entirely sure we were there, it was so hot nothing quite made sense. We did catch up with innumerable friends and one of the fun things was that a certain trio of writers, Dan Braum, Nick Kaufmann, and Ben Maulbeck, kept arriving, disappearing, arriving, kvetching, disappearing, arriving (with cold drinks—saviors!), and so on.

Of course, anyone who hangs around a booth for too long is going to have to: sell books!

We sold some books, gave away button-and-tattoo sets that go with Pretty Monsters, Couch postcards, and got Vietnamese sandwiches for lunch (so that’s why people live in cities!) and at some point a reader was admiring the cover of Carol Emshwiller’s The Mount when Shelley Jackson came by and we asked her to sign the book. Shocked (hence the blinkage), Shelley obliged in a noble manner.

Shelley signingOn linking to The Mount on Powell’s, we find an irresistible urge to send people there to read the one review “ech1969” has written one review—it’s a corker!

Bookshow followup 2

Mon 22 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Pretty Monsters: Stories CoverLast week we dropped by the NEIBA indie booksellers association trade show in Boston where Kelly signed real and actual (and so pretty!) hardcover copies of Pretty Monsters—mostly for happy booksellers and librarians. If you’re crazy, you can get one straight off of Bookfinder right now from the peeps who took the freebies, got them signed, and want to overcharge you.

However, we’ll be getting this in stock here for Kelly to sign and selling it the way we regularly sell books: regular price and free shipping.

Jedediah Berry was also there signing a huge stack of early galleys of The Manual of Detection which comes out in February from the Penguin Press. More on that as the date approaches.

One of the more exciting books to see on the floor was the first US edition of Iain Banks’s The Crow Road, which is an Indie Bound pick (which maybe means you can read it at your local coffee shop and get a high five from the barista). The Crow Road is a great big novel—we’d have published it if we’d realized it hadn’t come out here, oops! It was made into a TV series a couple of years ago but, what do you know, the book, it is better. The rec here comes from a bookshop that we used to frequent (along with Curious and Archives) whenever we were in East Lansing, MI, for Clarion, and who at one point carried LCRW, so lots of love for Schuler Books:

“This delightful and complicated novel begins, ‘It was the day my grandmother exploded,’ and just gets better from there. Weaving between two generations of family secrets, with an innocence and charm that’s rare in modern fiction, I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much!”
–Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, Mich.

Bookshow followup: 1 of a few

Mon 22 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Way back in May at BookExpo in LA we ran a scavenger hunt (well, we suggested it and Ben Parzybok and the Black Magic Insurance Agency made it happen!) which involved

  1. Getting a quarter from us and putting it into the gumball machine to get a set of clues (and a sticker and some candy)
  2. Following the clues around the LA Convention Center to find a different set of stories than the obvious ones.
  3. Using your cell phone to get clues to get back on track after that all important wait in the line for Leonard Nimoy’s autograph.
  4. Getting recognized by the Black Magic Insurance Company stickers and receiving exclusive (ok, sometimes they weren’t exclusive) goodies from these fine presses:
  5. Tin House (who had Pinkberry gift certificates for Jim Krusoe’s novel Girl Factory (in which girls are manufactured in the back of yogurt shop), the hilarious “Republican family values book” You Don’t Know Me, and The Dart League King [which Kelly blurbed: “Sign me up as a member of the Keith Lee Morris fan club. His characters are as real, fallible, and surprising as anyone I’ve ever met, and his novel has all the textures of real life: precarious, tender, and utterly engrossing.”)
  6. Agate: copies of Where the Line Bleeds and, a favorite of ours, How’s Your Drink?
  7. Gray Wolf: who had toilet paper with aphorisms from Best Thought, Worst Thought printed on it
  8. Algonquin (handy doorhangers featuring a myriad of books including this nonfiction [cough] fave, An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England)
  9. Baby Tattoo: a free book! Tales of the Sister Kane by Christy Kane
  10. BEA Gumball Machine Winning PackageMacAdam/Cage: CDs exclusively available for participants featuring 3-5 original recordings by Linda Robertson (author of What Rhymes with Bastard?) singing and playing the accordion
  11. No Voice Unheard: temporary tattoos of their “heart and paw” logo (publishers of One at a Time and Thought to Exist in the Wild, books no animal lovers should miss)
  12. John Hodgman (not an indie press but he had irresistible and incredibly funny posters for his new book, More Information Than You Require
  13. Drawn & Quarterly: posters for Lynda Barry’s What It Is
  14. and of course us: postcards, galleys of Couch, The King’s Last Song, and The Serial Garden, chocolate (except we had to chuck a box of yucky Peppermint Patties—they were stale!), electric cars, tandem bikes, inflatable couches (because the only good couch is one that you can carry), &c., &c.

Ok. It’s some months later. Everyone who made it all the way round the scavenger hunt received a raffle ticket and we kept those in a box. We pulled one out, and it was from a cool indie bookshop in Brooklyn, Word Books.

Last Saturday at the Brooklyn Book Festival we met Luca from Word—which reminded us that perhaps we should send out the pile of even more goodies we’d gathered from the presses above for the winner. So now we have the package together and it goes in the mail on today. Or tomorrow!

One more thing marked off the To Do list. Yay, just in time for tea!

Listen to The Ant King

Thu 18 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The title story of Ben Rosenbaum’s collection The Ant King, is part of this weeks’ StarShipSofa podcast (starting around 35:00):

Stan went to a group to try to accept that Sheila was gone. It was a group for people whose unrequited love had ended in some kind of surrealist moment. There is a group for everything in California.After several months of hard work on himself with the group, Stan was ready to open a shop and sell the thousands of yellow gumballs. He did this because he believed in capitalism, he loved capitalism. He loved the dynamic surge and crash of Amazon’s stock price, he loved the great concrete malls spreading across America like blood staining through a handkerchief, he loved how everything could be tracked and mirrored in numbers. When he closed the store each night he would count the gumballs sold, and he would determine his gross revenue, his operating expenses, his operating margin; he would adjust his balance sheet and learn his debt-to-equity ratio; and after this exercise each night, Stan felt he understood himself and was at peace, and he could go home to his apartment and drink tea and sleep, without shooting himself or thinking about Sheila.

I know you’re a big mouth but what are we?

Wed 17 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Publishers Weekly introduces our new imprint, Big Mouth House, to the world in a nice piece that also mentions Kelly’s new collection, Pretty Monsters:

When Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, founders of Small Beer Press in Easthampton, Mass., first considered publishing children’s books several years ago, they had a problem: the name of their press sounded like a brewery.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Beer? Anyway, it’s true: we are slowly and carefully opening out a new imprint for readers of all ages: Big Mouth House.

The Serial GardenThe first title comes out at the end of October, The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories, by the late Joan Aiken that has 4 previously unpublished stories. There are illustrations by Andi Watson and introductions by Garth Nix and Joan Aiken’s daughter, Lizza Aiken. It’s a Junior Library Guild pick and we got the best and most generous quote for it:

“Joan Aiken’s invention seemed inexhaustible, her high spirits a blessing, her sheer storytelling zest a phenomenon. She was a literary treasure, and her books will continue to delight for many years to come.”
—Philip Pullman

At some point soon the Big Mouth web site will become better and we’ll put up more about forthcoming books, guidelines (queries only, no picture books for the foreseeable future), and so on.

For the moment, The Serial Garden is Big Mouth House: one book that is so lovely and has been such fun to work on that we can’t wait to get it back from the printer (the proofs are due tomorrow!).

Preorder it: here, Powells, Local Bookstores: Yours, Ours, (ebook available soon from us and Fictionwise).

Wall Street Journal on Palin

Tue 16 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

from the depths of pre-election desperation, some honest words from the Wall Street Journal. Yes, that old left wing bastion, the Journal:

Leave the fantasy land of convention rhetoric, and you will find that small-town America, this legendary place of honesty and sincerity and dignity, is not doing very well. If you drive west from Kansas City, Mo., you will find towns where Main Street is largely boarded up. You will see closed schools and hospitals. You will hear about depleted groundwater and massive depopulation.

And eventually you will ask yourself, how did this happen? Did Hollywood do this? Was it those “reporters and commentators” with their fancy college degrees who wrecked Main Street, U.S.A.?

No. For decades now we have been electing people like Sarah Palin who claimed to love and respect the folksy conservatism of small towns, and yet who have unfailingly enacted laws to aid the small town’s mortal enemies.

Massachusetts peoples

Tue 16 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

It’ primary day: Go vote!

The Serial Garden . . . on film

Tue 16 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Some mornings are just that bit crappy so to wake up and watch this was indeed cheering. These kids, they are having the fun:

Gidney, Zombie Plans, Cringing, Nothing

Sat 13 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Go get Craig Gidney’s new collection Sea, Swallow Me, and Other Stories—and help pay the man’s medical fees! (What kind of country accepts 10-15% of its citizens as a permanently uninsured underclass? This one. Vote for Obama and a new national health system.)

This is a collection we were gong to buy anyway and this offer from publisher Steve Berman was so irresistible that a check was dropped in the mail today:


Rather than just a royalty, I’d like to offer a pre-pub sale that would give him the entire amount. Yes, I won’t even keep my costs and, since 10% of my profits were to be donated to the >Carl Brandon Society, if you purchase a copy of the book before publication, I’ll still make that pledge. So, $13 goes to Craig and $1.30 goes to Carl Brandon. Books will be sent out via media mail at my cost.

If you’ve already ordered a copy through Amazon, I want to thank you. But that won’t help Craig for months. Plus, I’ll make sure Craig autographs your copy before it is sent out.

I’d prefer payment be sent via check, but you could Paypal it if necessary to lethepress AT aol DOT com. The price is only $13 per book.

Lethe Press
118 Heritage Ave
Maple Shade, NJ 08052

Other good things on the web: Kelly’s story “Some Zombie Contingency Plans” is now online as part of John Joseph Adams’s huge new anthology The Living Dead. Coincedentally there was a nice review of Magic for Beginners over at The Fix. And Strange Horizons recently ran Richard Butner’s weird and lovely(?) story “The Secret Identity.”

Did anyone watch the first episode of “Fringe” without spending a lot of time cringing? So many weird and bad things. Best and most hopeful interpretation is that it was a prequel tacked onto the show and that the actual show will be better. Seems over optimistic.

However, to make up for that, the second volume of M.T. Anderson’s second Octavian Nothing is absolutely fantastic.

Sunday in Brooklyn

Fri 12 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

blurrybuttons.JPGWe’ll be at the Brooklyn Book Fair on Sunday from 10-6. 10 AM seems a little early, but coming somewhat early in the day may be advisable as we will be selling all books for same price: $10! (We’re not going to bring the hardcover editions of The Ant King or The Baum Plan, but we’ll have plenty of the paperbacks.) That includes Geoff Ryman’s The King’s Last Song and pretty much everything we have in print — even The Best of LCRW and the Harcourt paperback of Magic for Beginners. For big spenders we will have (recycled) canvas bags. For really big spenders, Small Beer Press is available!

buttoneering.JPGWhile Kelly’s new book won’t be out, we will have tiny thing to keep people going: buttons (yes, that flock there) featuring four of Shaun Tan‘s interior illustrations for the book as well as “Pretty Monster” temporary tattoos.

Kelly and Holly Black have also produced their first collaboration: a 4-letter tattoo. Pick yours up at the fair!

Anyone dressed as a zombie gets a free button. Anyone dressed gets a free button. Anyone ina  dressing gown gets two. Anyone undressed gets appluaded.

I.D. the thing

Thu 11 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

. . . and we’ll send you an advance copy of Kelly’s new collection, Pretty Monsters:


Music to work late to

Thu 11 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Liars and PrayersShould you find yourself working late some night soon, whether you’re operating a piece of heavy machinery, such as a button-maker, or doing some final work on a book, either way you’ll find that Thalia Zedek‘s new CD Liars and Prayers works very well to help drown out the noise of the band a few down the hall or to incite an appropriately deep trance to work in.

Zedek sounds a bit like Leonard Cohen, a bit wall of sound, a bit pub band: it’s definitely a lively and fascinating mix. And: timely or not, but here is a smart woman talking about politics. There are a couple of tracks on her myspace page: go listen.

Bloomsbury Academic

Wed 10 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Bloomsbury’s recent announcement about their new Creative Commons-licensed line provides a fascinating point of entry into the possible future of niche-interest books:

Bloomsbury Academic will be using a radically new model. All titles will be made available free of charge online, with free downloads, for non-commercial purposes, immediately upon publication, using Creative Commons licences. The works will also be sold as books, using latest short-run technologies or Print on Demand (POD).

Until we all have Instabook printers on our desktops (just as photo printing became dispersed onto desktops instead of centralized), this seems like a great model: insure the work is available to as wide an audience (online, libraries, etc.) as possible and also provide the option of buying the physical text.

For the moment, people do a ton of reading online (hello NY Times, Blogistan, etc.) so our distribution model is still mostly the same as publishing last century: make a pretty book and send it out there to be read and enjoyed. Since 99% (ok 99 point something-or-other) of our sales are physical, paper books, this is what we’re sticking to. (And, it’s great fun working with authors and artists to make books.)

Looking ahead (or at least sideways) quite a few of our books are available as ebooks and some are out there as free CC-licensed texts that can be played with, shared, sent on, etc., and maybe provoke the reader to look up those authors in the future.

The King’s Last Song – Chapter 1

Tue 9 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Free Stuff to Read, Novel Excerpts| Posted by: intern

“Oh you who are wise, may you come more and more to consider all meritorious acts as your own.”
Sanskrit inscription on the temple of Pre Rup,
translated by Kamaleswar Bhattacharya

“As wealthy as Cambodia.”
Traditional Chinese saying


You could very easily meet William.

Maybe you’ve just got off the boat from Phnom Penh and nobody from your hotel is there to meet you. It’s miles from the dock to Siem Reap.

William strides up and pretends to be the free driver to your hotel. Not only that but he organizes a second motorbike to wobble its way round the ruts with your suitcases.

Read more

Publication day

Tue 9 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Geoff Ryman, The King's Last SongGeoff Ryman’s The King’s Last Song comes out today: send us pictures when you see it in the shops!

Or you can buy the ebook right now at Fictionwise—and there’s a 15% discount this week—or from us.

You could get carried away: Laura’s Book Group from Edinburgh, who just won the 2008 Penguin/Orange Broadband Readers’ Group Prize, dined on deep fried crickets while reading it. (If you do that, definitely send us pictures!) 

The King’s Last Song

Tue 9 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Books| Posted by: Gavin

The King’s Last Song is an immersive novel of epic proportions that interweaves two Cambodian stories: Archeologist Luc Andrade discovers an ancient manuscript inscribed on gold leaves but is kidnapped — and the manuscript stolen — by a faction still loyal to the ideals of the brutal Pol Pot regime.

Andrade’s friends, an ex-Khmer Rouge agent and a young motoboy, embark on a trek across Cambodia to rescue him. Meanwhile, Andrade, bargaining for his life, translates the lost manuscript for his captors.

The result is a glimpse into the tremendous and heart-wrenching story of King Jayavarman VII: his childhood, rise to power, marriage, interest in Buddhism, and the initiation of Cambodia’s golden age. As Andrade and Jayavarman’s stories interweave, the question becomes whether the tale of ancient wisdom can bring hope to a nation still suffering from the violent legacy of the last century.

The King’s Last Song was originally published in the UK by HarperCollins. This new edition has an new extended afterword by the author, “A Reality Check on The King’s Last Song,” in which Geoff Ryman notes how both his sources and experiences added to the writing of the novel.

Read Chapter One.

About the author.


“Modern Cambodia, portrayed here, is still a wreck, beset by memories of mass murder. Like William the motoboy, everyone concentrates on escaping poverty and rising above their station. Surprisingly few, though, dwell on vengeance; there is a new generation, Ryman seems to say, capable of the stratospheric feats of the country’s legendary royalty.”
Washington City Paper

* “An unforgettably vivid portrait of Cambodian culture past and present.”
Booklist (starred review)

The Khmer Times


On the web:


  • Cover art © Pablo Carral Vega (from Corbis) and Jeremy Horner (Panos).

*** Pretty Monsters

Mon 8 Sep 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Pretty Monsters: Stories CoverPretty Monsters has pulled in a couple of starred reviews! Online from Kirkus in the Sept. 15th edition:

Although some of Link’s work appears in other YA and adult short-story anthologies, this is her first collection wholly aimed at a young-adult audience. Weirdly wonderful and a touch macabre, the nine short stories take readers into worlds wit

Then Publishers Weekly:

Readers as yet unfamiliar with Link (Magic for Beginners) will be excited to discover her singular voice in this collection of nine short stories, her first book for young adults.

Which together with the earlier Booklist review gives the book . . . three starred reviews!

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