Sometimes the big idea is to make something small.
Launched by Joshua Rothes in the year 2019, Seattle Independent Publisher Sublunary Editions Initially mail a new work to readers each month. The venture has now grown to publish books the website describes as “little volumes of erotic literature” edited and designed by Rothes, an archival series of books, as well as a quarterly magazine called “Firmament.”
says Jacob Severing, who translated the first Sublunary book and is now an assistant editor Empyrean Sublunary Seriesan archival line that includes the earliest, and often public domain, work of writers such as Gertrude Stein, Thomas de Quincey, and Laurence Stern.
“We try not to specialize. I think we are interested in the anomalies of literary history and just try to broaden our understanding as readers of what great neglected works are,” says Severing. “The first books in the Empyrean series were based on the idea of making this little book that you can really fit in your pocket and weigh absolutely nothing.”
Sublunary’s slim, pocket-sized paperback books are undoubtedly attractive: well-designed, often small works of translated literature, books can be as brief as Julio Cortázar’s 40-page Letters from Home or relatively robust as 140-page “None.” Body” by Christina Tudor Sideri.
To the reader, bite-sized action can feel like a welcome respite, oddly proportioned to short attention spans.
And Books Can Pack A Lot: A 90-page book “Family Friend” by Yves Raffy (translator by Emma Ramadan and Tom Robertge) presents the harrowing Hitchokian Noir story about a single widowed mother trying to get the authorities to listen to her concerns about her husband’s cousin, a sex offender. A convict thinks he will act again after he shows up at her door after his unexpected release from prison.
Sublunary announced this summer that it will publish a “missing” work by Henry Miller. Miller has composed handwritten and illustrated works—”intimate long book letters,” according to the publisher—for writers such as Lawrence Durrell and Anais Nin. The forthcoming publication, The Book of Conversations with David Edgar, is said to have been in private hands and has not previously been published.
“Obviously he wrote four, five, or six of these little books for his friends during this era in Paris,” Severing says. “The book has some beautiful watercolors in the book – it’s a one-man presentation book – and I think the book will feature some artwork.”
As Sublunary moves forward, they continue to experiment—like Siefring’s occasional live Twitter reads that can include anything from Baroque spiritual writing to occasional interruptions from his children.
So as the footprint evolves, will these delightful pocket-sized versions still be? Severing suggests that some growth may be on the horizon.
“We have more than two volumes coming out in the fall,” he says. “It’s 800 pages.”
Looks like we might need a bigger pocket.
just last week, You mentioned a little coincidence related to the bookAnd this week we have more (and I didn’t include the two books I read again this summer – novels written decades apart on different continents – both referring to Warren Zevon’s 1978 song “Werewolves of London”).
Ah-hoo, er, anyhoo, here’s something interesting about how inspiration works: In this week’s main book section, we featured Stuart Miller interview with Rashid Newsonwhose novel is set in New York City during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s “My Government Means To Kill Me,” a style Newson says was inspired by Mark Z. Danielowski’s book House of Papers.
“I think of it as an editor writing the margins,” Newson says. I read a book called House of Leaves. [by Mark Z. Danielewski] In college, I almost failed because I started reading during finals and couldn’t leave this book. There was a character called the editor who would come and correct what you were told and I loved that.”
We ran too Diya Chacko’s conversation with RF Kuang About her new book, “Babylon: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Occult History of the Oxford Interpreters Revolution.” The novel is an obscure historical fiction about magic, translation, and academia…it uses footnotes inspired in part by “House of Leaves,” according to Kong.
“House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielowski. It’s a very long book that includes a lot of wordplay in footnotes and textual experiments,” says Kwang, who explains more in this week’s book Q&A below.
Have you read House of Leaves, and if not, are you thinking about it now?
Do you have any questions or book suggestions to share? Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it may appear in the column.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Why does RF Kuang have a “Bangers Only” reading rule
RF Kuang is the author of “Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution,” published August 23 by HarperCollins, as well as The Poppy War trilogy. For more Ms. Kwang, Read Dia Chaco’s interview with her About the novel, translation and more.
Q: Is there a book or books that you always recommend to other readers?
It depends on the reader. I try to make recommendations to people just that I think they will love, but the book that I really like and recommend to most of my friends is “The Idiot” by Elif Bauman and its sequel, which are just some of the funniest, sweetest, and decisive. Campus novels you’ve read before.
Q: What are you reading now?
I’m trying to finish the movie Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov.
Q: How do you decide what to read next?
I have a “Bangers Only” policy. “Bangers Only” refers to books that I know will pay off, which means I end up reading a lot of classics.
That’s because I have very little time to read for fun, given the amount of time I have to read for coursework and the amount of time I have to spend writing. So I was trying to fight through the books, even if I wasn’t interested in them. But now if something didn’t immediately take over me within 10 pages, I wouldn’t read it.
Q: Is there a book you are nervous to read?
“House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski. It’s a very long book that includes a lot of wordplay in the footnotes and textual experimentation. I really like texts that go beyond what storytelling can do, and what you can do with the words on the page in terms of how they’re arranged – just new ways to engage with the reader beyond the traditional sentence.
So I try to finish it constantly, and I keep getting halfway through, but there’s just this creepy horror that comes along. It’s a very bad book to read when you’re alone, especially at night, and it always bothers me and I can’t finish it.
Q: What unforgettable book experience – good or bad – would you like to share? (a book you loved or hated, or a book you read in an unforgettable situation)
This summer, I didn’t get any fantasy books that I really liked. Then Neil Gaiman’s adaptation of “Sandman” just appeared on Netflix. I went back and started re-reading comics again, and I’ve been obsessed for two weeks now. All I want to read.
I often think about why Neil Gaiman’s own way of doing fiction is so attractive, and I think it’s because he’s not genre-bound at all. He takes whatever lore he likes from various stereotypes, puzzles, thrillers, and psychological horror. He just plays with them, breaking all the rules.
As someone who’s been writing fiction for a long time, and has been a little upset about that kind and feeling like there’s nothing interesting, going back to these decades-old comics and feeling fresh and excited is really cool. So I’m just sitting with that for now, trying to understand how Neil does what he’s doing and wondering how I can replicate that.
Margins and history
Television writer Rashid Newson says his novel, set at the beginning of the era of AIDS, is a “call to action.” Read more
Amy Netfield, who announced the harassment at Google, tells her story. Read more
Check out our interview with Taylor Jenkins Reid about her novel “Malibu Rising.” Read more
This week’s bestseller
Bestsellers in local independent bookstores. Read more
What’s next in Bookish
The The next free Bookish event will be on September 16th With guests Barbie Latza Nadeau, Andy Burwitz and Ron Shelton who will be joined by host Sandra Tsing Luo.