Small Presses

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Small Presses

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abr. 17, 2010, 1:09pm

Here's a very small press with a big footprint: The Pushcart Press, a one-person operation, run by Bill Henderson on Long Island for the last 38 years. The annual Pushcart Prize anthology seems to be the main attention-getter, but Pushcart has published numerous fine books, and won several prestigious awards. Details at the press's website (

My favorite Pushcart Press book is an odd one for an online cataloger, because it is vehemently anti-computer. Minutes of the Lead-Pencil Club, subtitled "Pulling the Plug on the Electronic Revolution," is edited by Henderson, with contributions from a number of authors, and is an entertaining corrective for me when I spend too much time on my computer and not enough with my books.

Editat: maig 4, 2010, 4:07am

Lord Acton: A Study in Conscience and Politics, a biography of the Victorian political thinker ("Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absoloutely.") by Gertrude Himmelfarb, was reprinted in 1993 by the ICS Press, of San Francisco. ICS stands for the Institute of Contemporary Studies, a think tank in Richmond, CA, near San Francisco. ICS, founded in 1974, thinks about political and social reform and has published several important books on these topics. The Lord Acton biography was the first of Ms. Himmelfarb's many noteworthy books on Victorian thinkers. Scholarly but (slowly) readable, it was originally published by The University of Chicago Press in 1952, then by Phoenix Books in 1962.

Editat: maig 4, 2010, 4:19am

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Editat: maig 4, 2010, 5:03am

The Sutra on the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings, is a very short traditional Chinese Buddhist text published as a chapbook by Parallax Press in Berkeley, California. In addition to the Chinese text (one page), the book contains an introduction and commentary by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk. The sutra was translated from Chinese to Vietnamese by Nhat Hanh, then the sutra translation and commentarial material were translated to English by Diem Thanh Truong and Carole Melkonian. Parallax has published many of Nhat Hanh's works and focuses its efforts on him and the Buddhist mindfulness meditation he teaches. Parallax has also produced a range of other books on mindfulness, Buddhism, and related topics. The press operates with a very small staff who produce high quality books.

(Touchstones not working for me today.)

maig 10, 2010, 2:43pm

I don't know if Klutz Press, of Palo Alto, CA, counts, since it was bought by Scholastic in 2002. Scholastic is huge. It publishes Harry Potter in the United States, enough said. Klutz is mainly known for its first title, Juggling for the Complete Klutz by John Cassidy. This book comes with 3 cubic beanbags, and is supposed to teach you to juggle. It works for many people. My brother, for instance, learned to juggle from this book. I, however, did not. But I didn't try very hard. They have a number of other gimmicky titles, all packaged with related objects. Like many another Silicon Valley startup, they haven't done too badly for themselves.

Editat: maig 20, 2010, 4:13pm

New Directions Publishing has generally been known for its avant-garde authors, but the book I have in my hand is by a third-century CE writer, Clement of Alexandria, a Christian educator during the Roman Empire. Selections from the Protreptikos is a chapbook, little more than a pamphlet, with a rough paper cover and only 27 pages, beautifully printed in Italy. It contains an introductory essay by the famous Trappist monk Thomas Merton and Merton's translations from the ancient Greek of several passages of Clement's work The Protreptikos (Exhortation). Merton's essay is very learned and takes up about half the book. The translated excerpts are lyrical and somewhat incantatory in tone.

New Directions was founded in 1936 by a sophomore at Harvard, James Laughlin, who ran it out of his dorm room. He seems to have had plenty of funding, because the press did not make money for its first decade or so. He also had stellar connections in the modernist literary world of the time, knowing Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and especially Ezra Pound who gave him the impetus to go into publishing. Laughlin wanted to be a poet, but Pound told him he'd need a day job, he didn't have the talent to be a poet. Laughlin actually went on to produce a number of volumes of poetry of his own, but he is mainly remembered for publishing an astonishing roster of international modernist and avant-garde luminaries over six decades before passing away in 1997. The press is still going strong, searching out and publishing new and experimental authors from throughout the world.

Editat: juny 13, 2010, 12:25pm

The Scarecrow Press, a subsidiary of Rowman and Littlefield, in Latham, Maryland, publishes The A to Z of Fantasy Literature by Brian Stableford. This is a handy and thorough medium-sized reference book in dictionary format. It focuses on English-language writers, but lists writers in other languages as well. It is heavy on information, light on opinion, which to me is a virtue in a reference. The fact that it is written entirely by one person, himslelf a science fiction/fantasy author, leads me to be a little wary of his objective judgment. I have not, however, come across any instances where I could accuse him of bias.

The volume contains a detailed chronology, an introduction by the author, and a reasonably thorough bibliography. The things I like best about it are the completeness of coverage and the recent publication date (2005).

(The computer that is doing the Touchstones feels that the A to Z of Fantasy Literature is really The Hobbit. I guess that's OK. The Hobbit is a pretty good book, as I recall, and will probably be around much longer than any of the A to Z Guides.)

Mr. Stableford has also written The A to Z of Science Fiction Literature in the same series. This is the A to Z Guide Series, consisting in more than 70 A to Z Guides to a wide variety of subjects.

I don't know whether Scarecrow Press is really a small press or a specialty press. It publishes mainly reference works for scholars and librarians and titles oriented to library management. According to its website: "For those curious about the Scarecrow name, it came about when company founder Ralph Shaw was explaining his idea for a new publishing venture to author and editor Earl Schenk Miers. Shaw knew that costs would have to be kept in control because he envisioned publishing scholarly books that were intellectually important, yet economically marginal. As Shaw described a company that would avoid excessive office costs, excessive editorial costs, general trade advertising, and the building up a staff, Miers broke in, saying, "You're talking about a scarecrow: it has no overhead, it pays no rent, it is not responsible for anybody's future clothing and shelter. It's a scarecrow!"

Anyway, these two guides by Stableford are worthwhile refernces for anyone interested in fantasy or science fiction.

jul. 26, 2011, 4:28pm

>1 anthonywillard: I, too, found it odd to catalog Minutes of the Lead Pencil Club online, during my break from other activities of the day, one of which includes finishing reading Slaughterhouse Five on my Kindle!

I do like to curl up with paper, and sometimes make marginalia, so paper books will always be first in my heart of hearts!