A Very Productive Seasonby Nicolle Elizabeth
The small presses are coming out swinging this fall, respectfully. Works of note include Octopus Magazine and Octopus Books titles (co-edited by Mathias Svalina and Zachary Schomburg); publisher of indie press dynamo PANK Roxane Gay’s collection, titled Ayiti, from Artistically Declined Press, co-run by indie press writer Ryan W. Bradley; and the seasoned Paula Bomer’s collection Baby & Other Stories, out on indie press Word Riot, which had a recent mention in O Magazine. Flash fiction indie supertalent Kathy Fish has a collection coming soon from Matter Press. Michael Kimball’s Us from Tyrant Books is a must read out from another press to pay mind to. If you’re looking for a stack of interesting books to read this season, consider adding some of these titles to the pile:
Gay’s Ayiti is a collection about a Haitian immigrant growing up in the suburbs and it deserves recognition as a beautifully felt work which, while maintaining a certain cultural integrity, imparts a universal understanding of, simply stated, what it is to grow up.
Indie fiction mainstay and long-time Brooklyn Rail fiction contributor Michael Martone has a novel out through the art collective Fiction Collective 2 titled Four For A Quarter—it’s a moving, artful, and forward-thinking work. We follow the author through the seasons, through an obsession with fours, as it were, and through personal loss. It is a triumphant novel, both in structure and in content.
Mathias Svalina of Octopus Books has teamed up with Mud Luscious Press to publish I Am A Very Productive Entrepreneur, his own toothy, heady novella told in flash pieces, each of which could stand on its own as an individual poem. Each section opens with the words, “I started this one business…” and then proceeds to state the reasons why Svalina is a “Very Productive Entrepreneur”:
I started this one business that builds skyscrapers in your likeness…What says I am somebody more than 70 stories of you…I started this one business that turned single calendar dates into haunting melodies…I started this one business that sold parts of me to the highest bidders.
The work has a biting attitude which then grows into a deepening sense of profound personal exploration.
All works mentioned are available in smaller print runs than the larger publishing houses could offer, and while I would look forward to hearing they’ve all been bought up for re-pressing in that bigger realm, the independently-minded and concerned reader should make a concerted effort at reading these texts this season. All of the writers mentioned are bound to go far, and it would be, simply put, a pleasure to say, “I remember reading them then, they were always great.”