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'solo/down' a Surprise Winner at This Year's IPPYs
We at CCLaP were greeted with surprise but welcome news last week -- Lauryn Allison's 2012 hit solo/down has just won the Silver Medal (or second place) in the Horror category at this year's Independent Publisher Book Awards! This is a highly respected prize among a lot of people in the literary industry, and the awards in general received over five thousand submissions this year; and then it's extra-surprising in this case in that Lauryn's book is not a traditional horror tale at all, but rather a psychological "body horror" story in the style of David Cronenberg or J.G. Ballard. Lauryn is likely traveling to New York on May 29th to accept her award, so I'll let you know soon if we're able to set up any last-minute reading opportunities for her that all of you locals can come out for. And in the meanwhile, a second printing of the book, now with shiny silver sticker, starts shipping out to bookstores next week! Our hearty congratulations to Lauryn for picking up this much deserved award.
'Sad Robot Stories' and 'Mountainfit' Get Official Covers
Well, what do you know -- we're finally starting to have the chance to get some of our book details done months in advance, instead of the usual weeks or days! Take Mason Johnson's coming novella Sad Robot Stories, for example, which we've only just begun editing on and won't be released until this August; but I'm happy to say that we now have an official cover, thanks to the talented work of photographer Don Solo. Just to give you a taste of what's coming, it's essentially an absurdist science-fiction story, set in the years after an apocalypse that wipes out the human race but leaves millions of happy robots behind, and the one single robot among them all who mourns what society lost when the human race was eliminated. It's funny and weird but also heartbreaking at points, and I think it's going to have a lot of people looking very differently at this popular Chicago comedic short-work performance artist. And then I'm also happy to say that we have the official cover together for Meera Lee Sethi's essay collection Mountainfit, essentially a mix of the photos she herself took while on the bird-research field assignment in Sweden she writes about in this book. And in fact it's soon enough to the book's June 10th release that we now have a pre-order page up (for those who want to guarantee that their shipment be within the first batch of handmade books actually ready as of June 10th), and also a more formal "dust jacket" synopsis, for those who want to know more...
In 2011, a tiny bird observatory in far western Sweden found itself hosting its first American volunteer, and Meera Lee Sethi found herself exactly where she wanted to be: watching great snipe court each other under the midnight sun and disturbing lemmings on her way to find a gyrfalcon nest. Mountainfit is an ecological field notebook, a keenly observed natural history of the life that sings from the birches, wheels under the clouds, and scuttles over the peat bogs of the Swedish highlands. And it is a letter, in 21 jewel-like parts, from a well-read and funny friend. Meera's vigorous, graceful prose communicates a wry understanding of how utterly ordinary it is to long for more out of life--and how extraordinary it can feel to trust that longing. Meera's intent was to create a book small enough to fit in your pocket and read on the train to work in the morning. It is that. But it's also large enough to contain a mountain or two.
Much more about both these books as the weeks continue!
Come to the 'Women Float' Release Party on June 7th!
And speaking of books that are now available for pre-ordering, don't forget that our next book, Maureen Foley's female relationship dramedy Women Float, comes out next week! We're frantically doing our last bits of editing right now, so to be ready for the official release on May 27th. Then just a few weeks after that, on Friday, June 7th, we'll be throwing the official release party for the book, in the southern Californian town of Carpinteria (just a half-hour outside Los Angeles, locals!); and I'm giddy to say that I too will be in attendance at this, my very first trip in my life to this area of the country. It's being held at the local bookstore Curious Cup (at 929 Linden Avenue), and will last from 6 to 8 pm, with free food and drinks being provided; it's being done in conjunction with the city's monthly "First Friday" downtown booster evenings, June's theme being the apropos "Surf's Up." If you're anywhere in southern California, you're a short car ride from this party, the first-ever chance for CCLaP's SoCal readers to meet up socially as a group, so I highly encourage you to come out so that I'll have a chance to meet you as well.
Judy Blume and Gay Prison Sex, Together at Last
There's been two new acquisitions recently to CCLaP's rare book collection: a first-edition copy of John Cheever's brilliant 1977 swan song, Falconer, a tender gay love story set within a men's prison of all places, written just a few years after Cheever finally came out himself for the first time in his life; and a "first-edition" copy (but more on those quotes in a minute) of Judy Blume's seminal 1970 Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret., one of the very first books to even inspire the term "Young Adult" that now so thoroughly pervades our culture. And in fact, this particular copy of Margaret, which I specially ordered online, highlights both the unique challenges and special opportunities inherent in a brand-new field of book collecting, namely of first-edition Young Adult novels; because the simple fact is that few people have even bothered throughout history to collect YA novels until our times right now, and that with kids as the original owners of these books, most of them get really beat up really quickly, meaning that there is a much smaller total pool of such books available in the public at large, which is going to make them rapidly increase in value over the next twenty years, as this genre becomes more and more important to literary history in general. My copy, for example, isn't even a true first edition -- there literally was not a single copy of such available at either ABEbooks.com or eBay when I was shopping -- but rather a first printing of the "Book Club Edition" put out a year later, and with a front page that's been completely ripped out, scratches on the dust jacket, and other various problems. Yet it was the absolute nicest copy of the book I could find on the entire internet the other week when I ordered it; so for younger collectors like me who are just starting out, you'd be wise to be seeking out as much as possible these days the first editions of such formative YA authors as Blume, Betsy Byers, S.E. Hinton, E.L. Konigsburg, Roald Dahl, Madeleine L'Engle and more.
Oh, and why was I special-ordering a Judy Blume book in the first place? Well, because Blume is actually the guest of honor at this year's Printers Row Book Fest here in Chicago (June 7th and 8th), and I'm hoping there will be a chance at some point that weekend to get her to sign my copy. And it was this particular title that had such an enormous impact on me as a kid (as it was with so many of my fellow Gen X males), which is why I wanted to track down a copy of this specific book versus all the other excellent ones she also put out in those years. Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes in a future update!
Newest Reviews and Features
Praise for Eleanor Stanford's Peace Corps memoir Historia, Historia just continues streaming in, months now after its original release -- the latest is from APT magazine, who had this to say: "Historia, Historia captivates. It speaks to truths that go beyond ourselves; the truths of love, marriage, friendship, and strange lands....It is a memoir of both pain and delight, of dreams both soured and realized. Stanford is a master, and Historia, Historia is a memoir not to be missed." Wow, thanks, APT! We're sending out review copies of Women Float and Mountainfit as we speak; so if you run a litblog, or are just a frequent poster at places like Goodreads, drop us a line and we'd be happy to shoot you an ebook ARC.
Last Week at the Blog
It's been several weeks since our last update, so here's a list of everything we've published at the blog since then, in case you missed any of it...
Travis Fortney reviews Jac Jemc's My Only Wife
Travis Fortney reviews Michael C. Hurley's Once Upon a Gypsy Moon
Yair Ben-Zvi reviews Anthony T. Simeone's Connecting Two Worlds
Yair Ben-Zvi reviews Chad Kultgen's The Average American Marriage
Karl Wolff reviews Boston Noir 2, edited by Dennis Lehane and others
Travis Fortney reviews Diana Wagman's The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets
Yair Ben-Zvi reviews Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles
Karl Wolff reviews Christopher Davis' The Conduct of Saints
Photos of the day: rskm | Owen Luther | Emily Howell | Kubra Sagin
And On the Horizon...
Well, as mentioned, next Monday sees the release of our second original book of the year, Women Float; then after my trip to southern California for the release party on June 7th, just three days later we'll be releasing our third book of the year, Mountainfit on June 10th. And then sometime within all of this, we'll also finally be releasing the long-delayed book version of Karl Wolff's CCLaP essay series, On Being Human, which originally ran here at the blog monthly through 2012. Then after that, we're taking nearly the entire summer off from publishing, simply so we can concentrate instead on getting as many of our existing authors out at live events during the warm weather as possible, as well as hosting a number of live events throughout the city ourselves. And speaking of which, we've been on the search for almost two years now for a highly socialable and enthusiastic local who might want to come in and be our new events coordinator, with the goal of scheduling and running at least one show a month in the city if not more; we have resources and money ready to dedicate to this, and venues that have been almost begging us to come do events, just that we literally can't find anyone who wants to put in the considerable time and energy to make these events happen (and happen in a satisfactorily professional way, the crucial thing to note here). If you're a young scenester in Chicago with nothing to do this summer, and might be interested in trying to get four fun literary parties finished and under your belt by the time Labor Day rolls around, please just drop me a line at cclapcenter [at] gmail.com and let me know. Sorry that there are still sometimes long delays between these newsletter updates; but I have to admit, being kept busy with so many book orders is a problem I very much enjoy having. --Jason Pettus, CCLaP Executive Director