Personal friends have been slowly hearing more and more about this over the last few weeks, but I'm happy to announce to the general public that we're now just about a month away from the release of CCLaP's latest original book, which now officially has a title and a cover -- it's called solo/down and is by Lauryn Allison Lewis, already a staple in the local literary community and who readers have seen pop up here and there at past CCLaP live events. This is Lauryn's full-length literary debut, after a self-published chapbook last year called The Beauties that was a big cult success here locally; and given that she's a very naturally friendly and vivacious person who loves to help with the administrative and hosting part of area events, it always comes as a surprise to a lot of people that her writing style is actually pitch-black and transgressively surreal, with this newest being no exception. Here, let me just post the jacket copy for you below, and let you see for yourself...
It is perhaps the day after tomorrow, or maybe the day before yesterday. Two lone scientists work in isolation at a deserted vaccine laboratory, in what may or may not be an apocalyptic America beyond their locked compound, attempting unspeakable experiments in combining plant and insect DNA to produce crops that can defend themselves against attackers. One gets pregnant with twins. A minor lab accident mixes this DNA with her embryos, producing hideous monsters locked in an age-old battle. And that's when the mysterious Solo shows up and decides to make things really interesting. The Chicago Center for Literature and Photography is proud to present solo/down by Lauryn Allison Lewis, a dark and surreal body-horror tale in the spirit of David Cronenberg or J.G. Ballard, her full-length literary debut after the self-published and cultishly popular The Beauties in 2011. CAUTION: Not for the weak of either stomach or spirit.
Anyway, we've been working like dogs on this thing over the last two weeks, because Lauryn suddenly got this great opportunity to be a featured writer this week at the revered Miami University of Ohio, and so we suddenly needed something she could actually show off and sell while she was there, a full five weeks before the finished book will be ready and only ten days after she even turned in the first draft for the very first time. And so for those last ten days, we've been getting in there and ripping stuff up, and editing down a tight 5,000 words from the eventual 20,000-word novella; plus we decided on a cover, then I designed a cover, then sent the cover off to a color printing plant, and got the covers back, all in under ten days too; and I'm happy to say that Lauryn is heading off to Ohio as we speak with 50 copies of a special chapbook version of the coming full novella, around 24 pages of story for a quick five bucks to the several hundred people who will be attending one of her three public events over the next three days. (And in fact CCLaP had a curiously close relationship with Miami University even before this; our intern from last summer, Traci Kim, is a senior there this year, our "shadow editor" for Lauryn's book, Sarah Bradford, is also a Miami student, and it's the lit organization they both work at, Inklings, that is specifically bringing Lauryn in for these events.) It's going to be a busy coming four days for all of them, and Lauryn promised to take lots of photos and give us a full report when she gets back, so you can be looking forward to that very soon.
This is also giving us a chance to try something I've never done at CCLaP before, which is to let people pre-order a paper copy of the full solo/down if they're interested, to ship on the actual day of release, April 23rd; so if you're interested, just stop by the main online headquarters for the book, which both before and after release can always be found at [cclapcenter.com/solodown]. We still have a lot of work to do, but it's already aiming to be one of the most memorable books of the entire CCLaP catalog, and I'm excited about having the chance to present the entire thing to all of you in just a few more weeks. More updates soon!