A Weekend at the 21st Independent Small Press Book Fair, with Pamphlet
This weekend, the Fiction Circus shared a table with Fractious Press at the 21st Annual Independent Small Press Book Fair at the New York Center for Independent Publishing in Midtown Manhattan.

It was sort of fun. We gave out two boxes worth of pantyliners with our website address scrawled on them in festive, colored permanent marker, and we gave out copies of short stories and novel pitches that we printed up at the last minute using stolen supplies.

Early in the day, one educated man with many rings on his fingers and dark, deep-set eyes knocked over the stack of pantyliners I had built-up on our table like Babel and literally swept aside our cheap printed matter onto the floor. He leaned forward, and growled at me:

"What is this foolishness? Who are you people?"

Luckily, the good people at Fractious were there to intercept him, or I would have told him my ideas about "THE FUTURE OF PUBLISHING" and he would have had a heart attack and died.

We also handed out hundreds of copies of a fine pamphlet written and illustrated by Mr. John Thornton, author of "The Man Who Hates Fun" a cartoon that is free for you to read online. Here is the pamphlet in its entirety:

The Independent Book Fair itself was kind of hokey, kind of desperate, kind of cold. You have to take yourself six times as seriously if you are a striving, dead-end small press, because no one else will take you seriously at all.

It was strange. I kept wondering how come nobody seemed to believe in their products or was having much fun, and then I realized that none of the authors were there: just the publishers.

And publishers are pretty boring people. If you point at a publisher's tie or blouse and ask them "how come did you get that dirty spot," they will look down every time, expecting an embarrassing stain. If you thump them in the nose for looking, they will not laugh or smile: their eyes will mist up with despair, they will shut them (dislodging twin fat tears), and they will say:

"You tricked me. You tricked me AGAIN. You are a shameless blight to everything decent we have built. We built something beautiful and good, and then your generation -- with your video games, computers, and limitless privilege -- you destroyed everything, EVERYTHING! You get out of here. You go away, and leave this last good thing to us. We just want to publish books. We just want to be good people with goodness in our hearts and ink on our sleeves."

I also got to hold a copy of Robert Bolano's 2666 that somebody brought with them to our table. Man, that book is pretty! It is more dense than a Burmese thousand-layer pancake! If you carry that book around by hand without distributing its mass in some sort of satchel, at the end of the day you will need to soak your aching fingers in vinegar and massage them with heated rosin.

It smells good, too, and the pages are all thin and creamy and cool. I want it. I am physically in love with that book. If I go to prison for stealing it, will they let me read it in prison?

Posted by miracle on Mon, 08 Dec 2008 05:46:22 -0500 -- permanent link

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