At least, it’s going well from here — thank you! It’s busy as all get out but we are up to date to Thursday’s orders and by the end of today will have caught up again — unless there are too many orders to ship, woohoo, bring it! The post office says that US Priority Mail orders will still arrive by Christmas if ordered by 12/21, go for it!
Want some last minute present ideas? (OK, these are all going to be Small Beer books, I think.) Nothing here will stop the howling void of despair and depression taking over all from the electoral shenanigans but they will distract for various amounts of time:
It was a pleasure to encounter renowned SF and fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin’s book of essays, Words Are My Matter, and to hear her wise, informed, elegant, and occasionally testy voice discussing such joys as the early H.G. Wells classics such as The Time Machine and China Miéville’s Embassytown—which surely owes a debt to Le Guin’s own The Left Hand of Darkness, now out in a sumptuous new Penguin Galaxy edition.
Sit back (or go jog, or shovel some snow) and listen to David Naimon and Sofia Samatar chat about The Winged Histories on the Between the Covers podcast. The Winged Histories was chosen as one of the best books of the year by NPR — yay!
The Valley Advocate ran a 3-page spread on John Crowley’s The Chemical Wedding which included interviews with Crowley, illustrator Theo Fadel, and designer Jacob McMurrary. The paper edition had many illustrations. Meanwhile the book was reviewed on Tor.com.
See the Elephant had previously run a review of Jeffrey Ford’s A Natural History of Hell which much to my enjoyment began “Hellishly Good Stories.” Jim Sallis revelled in Ford’s collection in F&SF (“Formally Ford’s stories are object lessons in how to stage a narrative.”) Alvaro Zinos-Amaro reviewed it on IGMS and DF Lewis wrote reaction posts while reading the stories. Hazel and Wren also liked the book. What can I say? It struck a chord.
And Mary Rickert’s collection, You Have Never Been Here, came out so late in 2015 that a lot of people read it this year, i.e. Sallis (“Reading a Mary Rickert story quite often is like sinking through layers of such worlds. We begin in one place, blink, and open our eyes to somewhere—something—else.”) in F&SF and William Grabowski in See the Elephant: “Rickert’s work, its superbly subtle handling of deepest human yearning for something to heal the howling void behind our increasingly demythologized world, shows the ineffable power—and value—of fantastical storytelling.”
Tue 6 Dec 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., book fairs, Emily Houk, Holly Black, Jedediah Berry, John Crowley, Kelly Link, Leslea Newman, Mordicai Gerstein, Ninepin Press, Northampton, Rich Michelson | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin
This world continues to be crap — i.e. “Half of Detroit votes may be ineligible for recount” (great pop up on that page, btw — everyone needs an instant audio ad for viagra to start when they click on a link!).
So for a brief moment instead of that here are some photos from a couple of panels at the Northampton Book Fair this weekend. The fair was in the Smith College Campus Center which is a beautiful building just outside the center of Northampton. The events were in two lovely, airy rooms on the ground floor and there was an antiquarian book fair full of the most tempting things upstairs. Wow, so many pretty things.
I saw some of the 10 a.m. Children’s picture book panel readers: Rich Michelson gave a, wait, no, really, fascinating presentation on Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy, Leslea Newman read her new book Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed (you can listen to Ketzel’s 21-second composition here), and Mordicai Gerstein (The Sleeping Gypsy, I Am Pan) strode up and just started drawing away on the white board. That was fabulous. Here he is drawing Hera (he noted she didn’t trust Zeus) and his drawing of the god Pan:
I missed Heidi Stemple and Jane Yolen (what a line up that panel had!) as I had to split to prepare for John Crowley’s reading of The Chemical Wedding in the next room over at 11 a.m. John is erudite and smart and very funny — and, hey, we sold books, which is always nice. He read and then answered quite a few questions, as the reading was well attended, and afterward I met some more local book and nonbook people.
Here’s one photo and perhaps a one-minute video I just tried uploading to Flickr:
I came back in the afternoon and — with mostly patient kid — sat in on the Ninepin Press celebration/reading where Jedediah Berry and Emily Houk read from, played with, and showed their current projects:
On the 10th of May 2016 we launched our first Kickstarter for a series of beautiful hardcovers of John Crowley’s new version of The Chemical Wedding and in the next 25 days 1,299 lovely, lovely people backed it. There were a few people who preferred to be actual Secret Backers so their names are not included here — and if you are a backer and you would like your name removed, please email me or send me a message through Kickstarter.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
David Lamp, PhD
Arturo De La Torre
Mary Kay Kare
Marie Myung-Ok Lee
Sonia [email protected]
Andre Cordeiro Valerio
Mark Van Name
Jaap van poelgeest
J. Van Wely
Brian Vander Veen
This Thursday night, November 17, come one, come all to the Abandoned Building Brewery in Easthampton, Mass., and join John Crowley and Theo Fadel for a reading, Q&A, signing of The Chemical Wedding wherein alchemical and zymurgical secrets will be spilled (although hopefully no beer) and the Brewery will open a cask of specially brewed beer.
Where: Abandoned Building Brewery, 142 Pleasant Street Unit, 103A, Easthampton, Massachusetts 01027 (back entrance of the mill — a little bit down from the fab Mill 180)
When: Thursday, November 17, 7 p.m.
What’s it all about? The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz! A 400-year-old book (novel? hoax? definitely a bestseller of its time) that John Crowley came across while writing Aegypt and decided it would be fun to make a contemporary edition of. And it is! It is a wacky delight and with Theo Fadel illustrating and Jacob MacMurray designing, it is a beautiful object.
Sure. But What Do Reviewers Say?
“Readers willing to surrender to its trippy rhythms and odd narrative choices will find many pleasures therein, from Fadel’s lively and grotesque drawings to Crowley’s erudite-yet-accessible footnotes. Especially interesting are the ways in which Andreae presents such a distinctive, funny, frightening and touching view of how the universe operates. Small Beer, Crowley and his collaborators have successfully mixed together disparate elements to create a strange literary concoction that fizzes with creative energy.”
— Michael Berry, Portland Press Herald
“The Chemical Wedding is full of outlandish set pieces—candles that walk on their own; a queen’s gown so beautiful it can’t be gazed upon—that might suggest an allegorical reading. But their imagery, as Crowley points out in his footnotes, is inconsistent: any allegory is defeated by the book’s sheer incongruity.”
— Peter Bebergal, The New Yorker
“John Crowley has consulted several older English versions, as well as living German advisors (Rosicrucian adepts?), and has come up with an utterly unpretentious working of this weird old parable which reads like a late-night barroom colloquy.” — Counterpunch
Not a print person? Get the audiobook here.
Got a moment? Here’s an interview in the Believer (is John a Belieber? You’d have to ask him) from a couple of years ago.
Can’t make it on Thurs
day? There’s one more chance to catch up with John: December 3 at 11 a.m. John will be at the Northampton Book Fair in the Smith College Campus Center, Northampton, Mass.
Hope to see you there!
Kirkus Reviews just released their fascinating and quotable review of John Crowley’s forthcoming The Chemical Wedding. The book is at the printer — the Kickstarter hardcover edition is almost done — and it will be great fun seeing this one out there in the world. The first printing of the paperback will be in red and black ink, too, as we ran some extra interiors after the hardcover print run, how nice will that be? It will be so nice, nay, beautiful.
The Chemical Wedding doesn’t come out until November but with the chill in the air early this morning that suddenly does not seem that far away, wow. In the meantime, enjoy the apples, the leaves as they start to turn, and this early take on the book:
“Gnostic gnovelist Crowley (Aegypt, 2013, etc.) goes to the well in this rendering of the Ur-text of Rosicrucianism.
After a chemical romance, why not a chemical wedding? Christian Rosencreutz was playing with a dangerous combination of elements, or perhaps Platonic solids, when, four centuries ago, he concocted a strange symbolic tale involving a quest in a land where, in an imposing castle, a king and queen are to marry. But odd things are happening, as our protagonist learns over the course of his eight-day journey to this wacky place; for one thing, there’s a bird fed on a very special kind of blood, “the blood of the beheaded royal persons, diluted with the waters we had prepared,” which causes the thing to grow visibly and measurably even as it imbibes. If that sounds like a chemical reaction to you, then it’s for good reason; Rosencreutz was an alchemist of note, and this odd novel was meant to impart his teachings. Or was it? Crowley casts doubt in his introduction on Rosencreutz’s sincerity, noting that the book was, in his words, a ludibrium, “a word with more than one shade of meaning: joke, play, nonsense, ridiculous thing.” Elsewhere Crowley ventures the view that the book is the world’s first science-fiction novel, but he leaves that claim half-defended and imperfectly at that. (Yes, it’s a novel. Yes, it has science. That does not make it science fiction.) Like certain prophets closer to our own time, Rosencreutz makes it clear in this heavy-handed allegory that his brilliance is not for the unwashed and that he’s not allowed to reveal all he knows (“I’m still forbidden to tell it… and other things that later I was told I shouldn’t reveal”). Crowley undoes some of Rosencreutz’s formality with his loose, slangy rendering, making the joke seem even jokier. Literature it’s not, but it’s a fine specimen of literary-ish mumbo jumbo.
A curiosity, but just right for the budding New Age-inclined alchemist of the household.”
In between the things I’m not doing here is something good about a book coming sooner than soon! (This is not Jeff Ford’s book which comes out next month!)
Words Are My Matter is in the top 10 of the Publishers Weekly Fall 2016 Adult Announcements: Essays & Literary Criticism. Yay!
25 days ago we launched our Kickstarter and in about 3 short hours it will be done. It’s been interesting to see the last minute changes a lot of backers are doing. One person will switch to a different reward, freeing up one of the limited rewards and boom, 2 minutes later, that one’s taken again. Fun also to see how many people are ordering two, three, or five copies.
Today to celebrate, after picking up the kid — who, happily, has of course no idea about any of this — I am going to the Florence Pie Bar and Evolution Cafe to get some desserts. May have to stop at the beer store, too. Then we will head off up into the hills to try and find John Crowley and celebrate the forthcomingness of the hardcover edition!
Episode 22: In which Jedediah Berry and John Crowley discuss John’s new edition of The Chemical Wedding by Christian Rosencreutz: A Romance in Eight Days by Johann Valentin Andreae. The book is illustrated throughout by carpentrix-artist Theo Fadel, and designed by Jacob McMurray.
Subscribe to the Small Beer podcast using iTunes or the service of your choice:
Wow, what a day!
It was just before Easter Sunday, and I was sitting at my table. I’d said my prayers, talking a long time as usual with my Maker and thinking about some of the great mysteries the Father of Lights had revealed to me. Now I was ready to make and to bake –
Instead of “a small, perfect unleavened wafer” as Christian Rosencreutz was going to do before someone tapped him on the shoulder, I baked some banana chocolate chip muffins. (Reviews at breakfast this morning were uniformly strong.) Nearly a hundred backers stepped up and backed the book and overnight backers kept appearing. Now the Kickstarter has broken $10,000, 1/5 of the way to making this book happen.
Besides “The First Day” — the Kickstarter Exclusive Hardcover — and a couple of the limited editions, these rewards have proven popular:
- The First Day plus: MFB Cards, the book plus a limited edition set of Magic for Beginners Playing Cards with illustrations by Shelley Jackson
- The First Day plus: LCRW ebooks — the book plus 22 LCRW DRM-free ebooks in the format of your choice: pdf, epub, or mobi
- The First Day plus: Endless Things — the book plus a first edition hardcover of Crowley’s Endless Things, signed with personal inscription by author.
We added a few more of each, although with some of the rewards (T-shirts, limited edition books), once they’re gone, they’re gone.
In between there were other things to do, kid had to be gotten from school, meals eaten — although I worked through a scheduled lunch with a friend, sorry Julie!, so rearranged it for today. Today there were other things, always things, and soon the kid will be out of school again and then there’s an appointment later. Hmm!
Thank you if you’ve backed it. If not: I hope you’ll consider it or spread the word. We have some nice bonuses planned!
Here we go!
You may or may not know that for a while we’ve been working on publishing a fabulous edition of a book originally published in 1616: THE CHEMICAL WEDDING by CHRISTIAN ROSENCREUTZ, A Romance in Eight Days By Johann Valentin Andreae in a new version by John Crowley.
The important news is that you can now order the hardcover on
There are many reward levels available — some expensive, some not, some goofy, some unique. What you most need to know is: we’re offering The Chemical Wedding in four states: an ebook, and three hardcover editions — the only hardcover editions of this book that we will ever produce. For ease of finding, the reward levels are titled The First Day, The Second Day, and The Third Day. All the hardcover editions come with the DRM-free ebook edition.
Whether you choose to back the project or not, please help share the news of the launch and help make this idea of a beautiful book a reality. If there’s anything we can send along that might help with that, please drop me a line.
Click the image below to see a full size version of Jacob McMurray’s case design:
And here is our Kickstarter video, made by Jedediah Berry:
Jacob MacMurray is locking up the design of John Crowley’s The Chemical Wedding one piece at a time. The Kickstarter approacheth!
Final typesetting after a second round of proofing. Jacob McMurray has designed a beautiful book, including using a suitably fabulous illustration by Theo Fadel for the cover. We should have the Kickstarter going in a couple of months and then a 400th anniversary trade paperback(!) edition available this autumn. Details will be here and here.
Good news for those of you following the long evolution of John Crowley’s The Chemical Wedding. Jacob MacMurray is deep into the design and the book has just come back from the proofreader. More updates as we have them!
We are very happy to note that work continues apace on John Crowley’s The Chemical Wedding, a book that in his introduction John calls “the first science fiction novel.” His aim in producing this new version, he says, “was simply to make this, one of the great outlandish stories in Western literature, accessible to readers in the context of no context.”
In January of this year John introduced us to the weird and fascinating woodcuts and prints of Theo Fadel and since then Theo has completed most of the illustrations (one for each day that passes) for the book.
We expect to publish The Chemical Wedding in 2016 (making it an 400th Anniversary Edition) in a number of states: 1) a slipcased signed, limited edition accompanied by a unique woodcut, and 2) a trade cloth edition. Depending on interest, we may produce a signed, lettered state with a portfolio of sketches and prints from the artist.
We will start taking preorders once we have the whole book in hand.
In the meantime, here is the full title page:
THE CHEMICAL WEDDING by CHRISTIAN ROSENCREUTZ
A Romance in Eight Days
Johann Valentin Andreae
In a new version
May 2016: Kickstarter exclusive editions (lettered, numbered, and hardcover) and trade paperback edition and ebook editions announced. The Kickstarter will go live in late April and will be announced here. Edition pricing will be available then.
Update: pricing added.
4/22/16 update: The Kickstarter is expected to launch in the first week of May. We will send an email to all commenters on this page as soon as it launches.
6/3/16 update: Kickstarter funded!
Meta for You & Me by John Crowley
My friend and fellow Small Beer-ite Elizabeth Hand sent me the following link to an article in the NY Times about the nature of metaphors and how they are implied by consciousness, and inherent in its operations.
I thought this was very intriguing, and I especially noticed the following:
“We can learn that a certain combination of sounds put together by Tchaikovsky represents Napoleon getting his butt kicked just outside Moscow. And that the name “Napoleon,” in this case, represents thousands and thousands of soldiers dying cold and hungry, far from home.” (NY Times)
Which reminded me immediately of this:
“The Spanish general Spinola, the Spider, left Flanders with his army and moved toward the Rhine and the Palatinate. Soon Mainz had fallen to him (in stories of war, cities fall at the advance of generals, but it’s not so; metonymy and synecdoche don’t do the fighting and dying, the soldiers and the townspeople do, one at a time, and not in a sentence but for hours and days.)” (Endless Things, John Crowley, Small Beer Press, 2007).
Of course we writers and professional deployers of them know that metaphor rules, and also know that what the world thinks is real is metaphor concealed. I think that the greatest illusion we live under is to think (we don’t even think it, we just assume it) that the language-system and the actuality-system are in one-to-one correspondence. We probably couldn’t live if we didn’t believe it, and it’s close enough most of the time that we can get along.
Liz Hand responded to my response with the following quote from Leon Wieseltier, for whom the language/reality problem must be sharp:
“Metaphor is the juxtaposition of disparate elements of the world in which an unsuspected commonality, an illuminating partial likeness, has been discovered, and the more unlikely the juxtaposition, the greater the consequent sensation of the unifying of the world; and so the range of a writer’s metaphor is a measure of the range of his cognition.”
That’s a sort of assertion of belief—belief that the commonality is not in the words and the corresponding brain areas tickled, but in “the world.” A faith, maybe. I share it—most of the time.
… send us an email and we will send you some books! Even thought the calendar is on the wall next to the fridge (mmm, beer) I just turned the page over today from November to December and discovered that we missed John Crowley’s birthday on December 1st— Darn! Happy Birthday, John!
And, last week, one of the things they recommended was to read Kelly’s story “Louise’s Ghost.” Who are these people? They are awesome and we want to send them some books!
Karen Joy Fowler has a great essay about writing Wit’s End on Powell’s blog (Wit’s End is just out in paperback, read now!). She does life in the connected (pre-collapse? c-cough) 21st century very well:
A lot of my novel is focused on privacy, and what that means in the age of the internet. This includes things like the creation of the author persona, the mediated fake intimacy of the net, and a new kind of accessibility of writer to reader.
|“IT’S PROBABLY CENTRAL TO THE NATURE OF FICTION ALTOGETHER, TO TRY TO ENTER INTO LOST WORLDS OR ENTER INTO ‘THE LOST’ IN SOME WAY.”|
|Reasons to get involved with the science-fiction crowd:
They speak Latin
They respond promptly to blogs
Their untamed romantic impulse
John Kessel on the podcastery and the radio:
In the first week of May I’ve had two interviews that are now available for your listening. In the first, by Douglas Lain, author of LAST WEEK’S APOCALYPSE, we talk about science fiction, politics, utopia, some of my short fiction, and my twenty-year-old novel GOOD NEWS FROM OUTER SPACE). It’s available at Dietsoap, Doug’s quirky website, along with other recent podcasts.
The second interview was on the May 7 edition of “The State of Things” with Frank Stasio on WUNC radio, 91.5 FM in the Research Triangle. We talk about “Pride and Prometheus”, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen. Here’s the link.
And another thing worth reading on Powell’s, this time an essay by Lisa M. Hamilton, author of Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness:
Writing about farmers has taught me a lot about how to be a witness. In simplistic terms, it’s because not much actually happens on the farm. Most days in the lives of farmers I know are composed of unremarkable tasks repeated over and over: milking one cow after another, weeding up this row and then down the next. Any writer who expects to swoop in, get a hot story, and then swoop out, will likely come away empty-handed.
I’ve learned that, to write about farmers, one must instead slow down to that rhythm of repetition. The writer must sit in the combine as it chugs along in concentric circles, taking hours to close in on the center of the field, only to pick up, move to the next field, and do it all over again. Being witness means a willingness to pass the same barn or tree or fencepost two dozen times and continually try to learn something new about it.
Women in this time period were almost always buried in their wedding dresses, because these were the nicest pieces of clothing they owned. I grew up in New England surrounded by old graveyards, and often picnicked and played in them. For this book I went back and spent time there and took many names for characters from the headstones.
Go wish John Crowley a Happy Birthday—but let’s not depress him any more than the Writer’s Almanac already did. Wonder if this means John will be on Prairie Home Companion one day? (And, what would he sing?)
It’s the birthday of the writer John Crowley, (books by this author) born in 1942 in Presque Isle, Maine. His most famous novel is Little, Big (1981). It’s a fantasy story, full of fairies and enchantment, but it’s also an epic saga of a New England family, complete with historical details. The critic Harold Bloom chose Little, Big as one of the books that changed his life. He said, “I have read and reread Little, Big at least a dozen times, and always am startled and refreshed.” John Crowley has a cult following, and his novels always get great reviews, but they still don’t sell very well, partly because they’re so hard to categorize.
Endless Things actually sold ok. If we’re to believe Bookscan, it has outsold the paperback collection of Novelties & Souvenirs and will soon overtake the pb of Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land. More interestingly, The Solitudes has blown it out the water which bodes well for the whole series. Given the recent National Book Award win by Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country, maybe we can persuade John to rewrite the whole Aegypt sequence into one massive novel. Hmm!
“She had a curious childhood. She didn’t go to school until she was 12, she was brought up not in much contact with children at all. Her mother married her step father when she was 5. He was essentially a Victorian much in the same way as the books in the house. There were no children’s books, and there weren’t that many books for children in the 1920s, so she read whatever was in the house which were Dickens, Dumas and Austen.
LCRW 23 is at the printer. Yay!
Anyone online at www.readingtrails.com? (Not that we are, just looks like an interesting site.)
Just emailed our interior files from Endless Things to the Overlook Press so at some point (January!) the paperback will come out and all those readers who have been waiting to get the 4 book set can at last sign in relief. (We wanted to do this set but got outbid, c’est la vie!)
This has nothing to do with Trickster gods (excepting The Coyote Road, which has lots to so with it). Instead it is just a tricky headline to make you wonder what we’re on about now. It’s Locus finalist celebration day—thanks to John K. for the heads-up!
Chocolate bars for all!
It is excellent—and we are very grateful to each and every one of you who made your butler go vote—to see John Crowley’s unendingly brilliant Endless Things on there, along with The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 2007: Twentieth Annual Collection, and, and this is a lovely surprise, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Holy Xerox Printed Zine Batman! What’s that doing there? (Um, basking?) Guess we’ll keep it going after all.
The finalist list is a reminder that 2007 was a strong year, especially for men writing in this genre. That’s not snarky, look back at the list. Congratulations to Elizabeth Bear (“Tideline,” Asimov’s Apr/May 2007) and Connie Willis (“All Seated on the Ground,” Asimov’s Dec 2007; The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories, Subterranean), the only women in short fiction. SF novels are all men, then Fantasy, YA, and Debuts are all pretty mixed—and all are very strong categories (below the cut). Too much work to look at more except perhaps there should be a PR campaign by any women artists in the genre?
It will be fun to see who wins but the real winners, said without cheesiness—especially after serving on award juries—are readers who use this as a reading list to see what’s good out there at the moment.
John Crowley, who popped in to the WFC this past weekend for a reading from Four Freedoms and to sign a few books for the ardent multitudes, has a letter in the NY Times Book Review.
Ron Drummond, also in Saratoga, was carrying around a printer’s dummy or blank of his crazy beautiful 25th anniversary edition of Little, Big. It is huge! 7.5 x 10 inches, 3, maybe 4 inches thick. He also had some early, nearly-final copies of the first chapter. This is going to be one awesome object.
and other disingenuous titles. Actually, the London Review of Books. Has to be read on paper, one copy of which John will receive in, yes, Saratoga. Where much swapping of paper will occur.
Tomorrow in Ed Park’s L.A. Times column, Astral Weeks, he writes about Endless Things and the conclusion of the whole shebang:
The “Aegypt” cycle has always been about its own slow process, its private alchemy, its impossibility, but in the brisk “Endless Things” Crowley dismantles the machinery while dazzling us, showing how each part gleams.
Also, Strange Horizons are reviewing all the World Fantasy Award novel finalists—including The Privilege of the Sword.
Interfictions at Fantasy Book Spot.
Water Logic at the Feminist Review.
LCRW 20 at Horrorscope.
Greg Feeley writes up the Aegypt series in The Philadelphia Inquirer:
With Endless Things, John Crowley brings to a conclusion the quartet of novels, acknowledged by his present publisher as a single sequence titled Ægypt, upon which he has labored for the last 20 years. A highly ambitious meditation on fantasy and desire, mythopoeia, secret histories, and the greater significances (if any) behind the texture of everyday life, Crowley’s series began publication, with new volumes appearing every six or seven years, from a highly commercial publisher that maintained (for a time) the belief that his books could be not merely intensely loved by a small body of readers, but bought in large numbers.