For the first time in CCLaP's history, I'm happy to say that we're now an entire year ahead in our publishing schedule, in terms of knowing which books in particular we'll be putting out; and that's letting us for the first time publish a traditional 2015 catalog for the general public, which you can download for free by clicking on this link. (Or to refer people online to this page in general, you can use the shortcut [bit.ly/cclapcatalog2015].) But I wanted to spell out everything in that PDF as a web page too, so that you don't have to do any downloading if you don't want; so here below is a look at every book we'll be doing this year and into the first half of 2016 as well. (Updated throughout the year as there are new covers and synopses to announce.)
Greetings once again from the fictional upstate New York town of Two Rivers, location of Ben Tanzer's other two story collections with CCLaP, 2008's Repetition Patterns and 2011's So Different Now. In these new stories, the citizens of this Sam-Shepardesque village are facing the prospect of the "Storm of the Century" and a massive flash flood. Instead of nobly rising to the occasion, however, the characters featured in these intense, probing pieces struggle with the same limitations and poor choices that have haunted them throughout these collections, resulting in the type of portraits of alcoholism, abuse and infidelity we've come to expect from this dark master of the American small-town soul. A brilliantly metaphorical look at the Great Recession of the 2010s, and a fitting end to CCLaP's "Hypermodern" series of small handmade hardback books, this latest volume of the ongoing series by Tanzer is considered by many to be some of the best work of his career, and you are sure to be both moved and horrified by the results.
"[Tanzer's] magnum opus.... Seriously my most fave CCLaP publication. These story cycles are kind of like a trilogy of concept albums, but instead of progressive rock songs, there's mind provoking and nerve twitching literature that seem to predict and expose the future and our human condition all too well." --Notes on the Shore
The runaway success of Fifty Shades of Grey made erotica mainstream, but can erotica really be written off as derivative fiction read by suburban moms for titillation? As Karl Wolff investigates in his new collection of essays, erotica belongs in a vast literary landscape, a genre that hides hidden treasures and rare delights. He covers erotica from The Song of Songs to Nic Kelman's girls: A Paean; from Gynecocracy to Matriarchy: Freedom in Bondage; from City of Night to Naked Lunch; Story of the Eye to Story of O; and a bawdy bouquet of graphic novels. The NSFW Files includes essays on erotica written by a Nobel laureate, an outsider artist, a surrealist, and a French prisoner, among many more. Most important, the essay collection offers an answer to the question, "What dirty book should I read next?"
Paul McCartney is not a celebrity himself, but works on the edges of that industry, unhappily toiling away at a tabloid devoted to famous deaths and the public's ongoing fascination with them. But one day he discovers a mysterious red button on a back wall of his new house, which when pressed causes the immediate death of a celebrity sometimes half a world away. And what does this have to do with the eyeball in a glass jar that his biggest fan has recently mailed to him? Find out the darkly hilarious answer in this full-length debut of British absurdist author Stephen Moles. A rousingly bizarro exploration of fame, identity and mortality, this novella will make you laugh and cringe in equal measure, a perfect read for existing fans of Will Self or Chuck Palahniuk. You might not think a book about death would begin with the word "life" written 27 times in a row, but then you have yet to enter the strange but compelling world of Paul is Dead. Best approached with caution and with tongue firmly in cheek!
It's 2039, and a political faction called the Lifestyle Party has risen to power under the Presidency of Deepak Chopra. The new government bans scientific innovation and introduces a set of policies focused entirely on maximizing personal happiness. So why is Grady Tenderbath so unhappy? Believing that he's fallen short of his professional potential, he buys a personal robot muse to nurture his talent and ego, while his wife Karen, a genetic scientist, becomes more entrenched in her lab. But just when Grady seems on track to solve his career crisis, he discovers a new problem: he's swooning for the empathetic yet artificial Ashley. Not only that, he's distracted by haunting visions of Karen transforming into...something else. Half speculative fiction and half marriage thriller, Rise of Hypnodrome explores how future generations might draw from the realm of epigenetic engineering to eventually control their own biology. Whether human or robot, the characters in this cutting-edge science-fiction novella have one thing in common: an irrepressible desire to evolve.
Orest Godwin is ruining his long legacy three fingers of rye at a time. His lectures have become bizarre. He's smoking indoors. And he's begun to carry a knife. When Orest nearly burns down the campus destroying memoirs in his attic, the College has no choice but to dismiss him. After 50 years, a prestigious career is ended in a humiliating act of senility. Or so The Provost thinks. Orest decides he is no longer satisfied to be a known historian; he wants to be historic. So he cashes his pension, draws a new will, and vanishes. With the help of a failing Spanish student whom he has promised a fictional scholarship, he embarks on an adventure from northern California to the lawless badlands of Mexico to join a true rebellion. Armed with Wyatt Earp replica pistols and a case of rye, Orest and Augie trespass through a thousand miles of brothels, cantinas, jungles, diners, and motels, threatening those they meet along the way. If Orest can just elude the pimps he's crossed, the ranchers he's sworn vengeance upon, and kidnapping charges, he might just join his peasant uprising. At least while he can still remember where he is going. And if no one gives him a drop of mescal.
A darkly surreal yet absurdly funny short-fiction writer, Matt Rowan has been a Chicago local secret for years; but now this latest collection of pieces, all of which originally appeared in the pages of the CCLaP Weekender in 2014 and '15, is set to garner him the national recognition his stories deserve, a Millennial George Saunders who is one of the most popular authors in the city's notorious late-night literary performance community. Shocking? Thought-provoking? Strangely humorous? Uncomfortable yet insightful on a regular basis? YES PLEASE.
"Big Venerable reads like a collection of modern fables, peppered with workplace anxiety, mutating families, absurd quests, and faulty sages delivering self-centered advice. A very funny book from a very funny man." --Halle Butler, author of Jillian
Know thyself and nothing in excess. Just as the doomed sailors of Homer's Odyssey fail to heed one or the other of these maxims, and end up getting turned to swine or lured to their peril by the singing sirens; so too do the doomed characters in Joseph G. Peterson's new collection of stories fail idiotically in one way or another and end up, like those ancient sailors, facing the prospect of their own mortal twilight. Set mostly in Chicago and by turns gruesome, violent, comic, lurid and perverse, these stories are suffused with a metaphorical light that lends beauty and joy to the experience of reading them.
"For me Joe Peterson's voice is a fresh pair of feet on the very dusty road of contemporary American literature." --Dan Fante, best-selling author of 86'd
THE PUBLISHING EVENT NINE YEARS IN THE MAKING
In 2006, celebrated author Ben Tanzer began working on a series of short stories all set in the fictional upstate New York town of Two Rivers, most of them published in various literary journals over the years and eventually collected into the three small volumes Repetition Patterns (2008), So Different Now (2011), and After the Flood (2014). Now for the first time, all 33 of these stories have been put together into one paperback edition, highlighting the long-term planning of themes and motifs that Tanzer has been building into these pieces the entire time. Featuring dark character studies of childhood, middle age, and (lack of) grace under pressure, these stories are considered by many to be among the best work of Tanzer's career, and voracious fans of his short work will surely be pleased and satisfied to have these small masterpieces collected together into one easy-to-read volume. So take a stool at Thirsty's, order another Yuengling, and be prepared to be transported into the black heart of the American small-town soul, as one of our nation's best contemporary authors takes us on a journey across space and time that will not be soon forgotten.
"With great humor and the natural voice of your closest confidant, Ben Tanzer brings us stories set in our shared fictional hometown of Two Rivers, NY. With tenderness and heart, Ben brings us real people and their poignant, messy struggles, reminding us of the folly of our youth and the beauty in even our most mundane histories. Though my family left when I was small for the big city, Tanzer has given this reader the gift of a sliding door here, and I think you'll feel the same way, wherever you're from." --Elizabeth Crane, author of We Only Know So Much
"Ben Tanzer's stories are both familiar and surprising, a scarf and a knife. Stories full of people we know, love. People we don't want to know, don't want to love. Stories full of desire and sadness and almost. Stories over beers and tequila, stories inside sex and storms. Ben! He is one of my favorites for all sorts of reasons and one of those reasons is yes and another is hell yes." --Leesa Cross-Smith, author of Every Kiss A War
The brilliant literary debut of the "Millennial John Updike," this is a warm ode to the middle-class assholes who are ruining Brooklyn, which doubles as a pretty effective black comedy to boot. Set in one of the infamous new glass skyscrapers along the edge of Williamsburg, Falatko paints a complex and touching portrait of a young creative-class couple in transition, examining how the Great Recession has sometimes affected subtly bizarre vengeance on the newest generation of young professionals just now entering "real life."
Coming July 13th | cclapcenter.com/condo (not yet live)
AND COMING LATER IN 2015 and 2016:
September 14th: Title TBD (2015 "City All-Star" Student Anthology). Our second annual "city all-star" student anthology, it will feature over 400 pages of stories, essays and poetry from the best and brightest writing students in the entirety of Chicago, culled from over 20 institutions across the city and suburbs. This year's theme will be announced, and submissions begun to be accepted, on April 1st, 2015; write cclapcenter [at] gmail.com to be added to the mailing list for updates.
October 12th: The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong, Leland Cheuk. At its heart a very sober look at all the injustices that Asian-Americans have had to endure over the years (from the railroad days of the Victorian Age to the forced camps of World War Two), but cleverly told through the darkly comedic filter of one particular family who lived through it all, each new generation's patriarch either corrupt and benefiting from the atrocities or cartoonishly inept and punished for it. A laugh-out-loud yet highly literary story of dysfunctional families, perfect for existing fans of Jonathan Franzen.
November 9th: The Wobble, Douglas Light. The nationally popular novelist, whose debut novel East Fifth Bliss was turned into an acclaimed independent feature film, creates a darkly comic yet poignant tale in his latest work. After the Earth snaps off its axis for seven seconds, Philip Heavy fights to regains some semblance of his old life. When the task proves impossible, he decides to takes a swim--around Manhattan. Battling the currents, a Federal assassin, and his own tormenting doubt, Philip forges friendships with fellow swimmers who join him in his quest for understanding and a way out of the river. With a razor-sharp voice that's been compared to Haruki Murakami, Light creates a bizarre yet believable world--one we can all relate to.
December 7th: The Fugue, by Gint Aras. From this Chicago-born Lithuanian-American author comes a major new contribution to Chicago's tradition of social-realist literature. Nelson Algren meets Leo Tolstoy in a 700-page saga that spans four generations of Eastern European immigrants, all living in the community of Cicero, the action taking place over 50 years and revealing a series of secrets that stretch all the way back to the Nazi invasions of eastern Europe. Each member of these complicated, fascinating families is profoundly affected by events often invisible to them. The Fugue is a major new publishing event in the indie-press world, and a book CCLaP will be heavily promoting as a possible dark-horse nominee for the National Book Award.
January 2016: Goodbye Pantopon Rose, by Mike Sauve. The first title of our new "CCLaP Erotica" imprint is a dark and surreal slapstick comedy with an urgent message about the evolution of lust in the digital age. Sarah Montgomery is a soup kitchen volunteer of singular altruism and bustiness who decides that having sex with her neck-bearded and virginal high school classmates is the greatest charity she can put forth; the resulting "sexual pay it forward" ring grips the town in an obsession when the increasingly perverse trysts produce medical and religious miracles, and eventually draw the interest of sinister forces. The second coming of Chuck Palahniuk...pun intended.
February 2016: The Peach King, by Steven Garbas. In this daring and smartly funny follow-up to his 2015 CCLaP novel Orest and August, and set in the same town as the former, an alcoholic high-school teacher becomes obsessed with his shut-in next-door-neighbor who recently committed suicide, eventually recruiting two strange teenagers to help in his comically inept detective work regarding the rooms full of random writings the recluse left behind.
March 2016: Death Leaders, by Kendra Hadnott. The full-length debut of this young local author, it's set in a near-future Chicago that has revealed the existence of the "Death Leaders," a quasi-angelic order historically tasked with keeping the world's population under control, without humans ever catching on. When our hero is assigned a 19-year-old single mother to kill through medical illness, it seems at first like business as usual, but soon it's revealed that one of their own is trying to destroy the organization (and the resulting human civilization) from within.
April 2016: The Moby-Dick Blues, by Michael Strelow. The newest title in our "CCLaP Crime" imprint, this contemporary noir is posited around a fascinating "what-if" from real life, about the sudden discovery one day of the long-thought-lost first draft of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, and the warring factions within a dysfunctional family who nearly destroy each other in their quest for control of it. Be warned, this is not a historical tale, but a fresh and dark thriller set within the world of rare-book collecting.
And finally, Joe Peterson keeps telling me I should do this more, so let me also take a moment to share online the page from the PDF listing our growing listing of accolades, including being recently lauded by Bookriot for being one of the top-five indie presses in the United States to be "absolutely killing it." We are killing it these days, frankly, and I don't worry about sounding like I'm bragging when I say that, because we all know that that mostly boils down to just how many really amazing, astounding authors we have sending us manuscripts these days, the biggest reason we've been able to expand out to a full year ahead in our schedule. We accept submissions all year long, so feel free to send us yours by writing cclapcenter [at] gmail.com, remembering as always that we do not accept poetry, short-story collections, or children's/YA literature. We have some really amazing books to share with you this year, and I hope you'll have a chance to come by all throughout 2015 and read them all, especially since every ebook is completely free to download in their full form.