Thursday, May 25, 2006

Almost daily, in my teaching life and out of it, I am reminded of the lamentable dearth of publishers interested in taking on slant fiction. Poets, bless them, realized years ago that some serious do it yourself was in order if interesting work was to have a place to live and circulate (and by God have the presses and prizes sprung up like mushrooms in a damp basement!); slant fiction writers (despite the great example of the Fiction Collective (now FC2) and others (like the folks at Starcherone, Omnidawn, Chiasmus, Clear Cut, etc.)) haven't been nearly as proactive. Some find homes with presses largely devoted to poetry or poetic prose (like Futurepoem, Krupskaya, Atelos...), some find spots with the longer-standing indies, a lot, alas, have trouble placing/can't place their work because there are only so many slots to go around. Every now and again someone with some experimental cred. gets a book taken by one of the big houses and everyone starts seeing big fat carrots in the sky. I've written on this elsewhere (see last Summer's Fence -- the one with the topless model on the cover), and will say again, that fiction writers who write weird shit, of any variety, need to stop imagining (I mean really) that they are the next Ben Marcus or something and that big house New York is waiting for them. It may be there, it may happen, but IT IS NOT waiting. And the reality is that the bigger indies only have so many openings, and that a lot of deserving people want a spot. Sure, we're not all meant to be publishers of journals or presses (I hear that a lot), but a few more of us better start doing something besides sending letters out to agents, etc. Otherwise, it's just going to get grimmer and grimmer for a field that is filled, from where I'm looking, with amazing younger/new fiction writers, who have very few places to go with their work. No?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Paul Jessup said...

You are 100% correct. It's the whole reason I started GrendelSong (http://grendelsong.com). Of course, GrendelSong isn't just about "weird shit", mostly because I like all kinds of writing, and I think the mag reflects that.

The first ish is a great example. Some of the work is experimental, some pulpy fantasy, some "bat shit" and some magical realism.

But I do think we need more good indie mags. And I think you need to do more than just post about people doing it in your blog as well and start a zine or publishing house yrself. Unless I'm a complete idiot, and you already have one that I don't know about.

5:53 AM  
Blogger Laird Hunt said...

Thanks, for this Paul -- I knew, of course, that suggesting we needed more publishing ventures friendly to experimental fiction would draw some "well, big talker, why don't you do it" suggestions. I've made it a point over the years to always contribute, in some tangible way, to furthering the work of others (to the health of the field). So, I've run a journal (PsaLm 151), a press (the original Heart Hammer), curated 13 issues of The Bestiary (a section of Garrett Kalleberg's estimable Transcendental Friend), and served on the editorial board of Futurepoem. So, many editing and publishing endeavors. I'm not currently in a position to start a press myself (new baby among other things), but I do review (for RCF and, more lately, Rain Taxi) pretty much incessantly, translate, and teach and otherwise champion experimental fiction.


Incidentally, you may have noticed, even in the early workings of this blog, that I have been including work from others, and it is my hope not just that that will continue, but that it will become, in some way, a more and more important part of the proceedings.

6:29 AM  
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