Excitement! DOUBLE RAINBOW EXCITEMENT! Today sees the release of not just one new book here at CCLaP, but two at the same time! First up -- So Different Now, the newest electronic collection of interconnected stories by our old buddy Ben Tanzer. Regular readers will remember that it was a similar book by Ben that kicked off the center's entire publishing program, Repetition Patterns back in 2008; and now here's volume two of what I hope will be a lifelong series of "story cycles" about this small, crumbling upstate New York town, called a "cycle" in the first place because the stories themselves aren't just random, but connected to each other in small, smart ways and with them meant to be read in a specific certain order. For those who only know Ben through his popular romantic comedies, there's a real dark side to his work as well that you've been missing out on; and these stories delve directly into that side of his work (almost all of them originally published through various literary magazines over the last three years), so strap yourself in for a pretty bumpy ride. As always, this particular ebook is being released under a Radiohead-style "pay what you want" system; yes, "pay nothing" is a perfectly valid option, and in fact is how the vast majority of CCLaP's readers interact with our books.
And then second -- the book I'm frankly a lot more excited about -- it's the long-awaited release of The New York Stories, a deluxe paper compendium of both Repetition Patterns and So Different Now put together, in this case under a cutting-edge "Victoriana meets Raygun" design style and featuring 30 illustrations by Chicago artist Laura Szumowski (six of them in full color and inserted via special vellum sheets). Like the "Hypermodern" books I've been releasing all year, these are handmade, feature a full Colophon and signature/provenance page, and are held together with external Coptic stitching; but unlike those, this is a full seven-by-seven inches in size, and with the covers made out of a faux-suede material instead of the usual fabric. Six months in the making, this is the first in an eventual series of CCLaP titles designed specifically for low sales to professional book collectors and hardcore fans, with a price to match -- The New York Stories is $75, just to warn you now, and with no electronic version of the illustrated edition existing. Oh, and hey, if you live in Chicago, don't forget that we're having a big fundraiser for the book in late January 2012; $100 per couple that night gets you not only the book itself, but free liquor and gourmet appetizers at a literal Victorian mansion in the Hyde Park neighborhood (exactly one block away from Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House), plus a special multimedia performance from the book afterwards, featuring local musicians and some of the city's best spoken-word artists.
Anyway, as always, some of the details surrounding these books are still to come soon, like the Amazon version, the Goodreads pages, and a more analytical essay from me about these stories; but for now, do make sure not to miss the latest episode of the podcast, also being released today, in which Ben and I talk for an entire hour about these titles, all the other successes he's been having in what's turned out to be a busy year for him (he had four freaking books released in a twelve-month period), his opinions about the current state of the Chicago literary community, and a lot more. And I definitely hope you'll have a chance to enjoy both of these books!