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How We Assembled Indiespensable #14

(Editor's note: In lieu of the traditional "How We Assembled" letter, we chose to stay true to the epistolary nature of our featured title. Here are the two letters that we wrote and sent out with each shipment.)


Dear Indiespensable Subscriber,

We're not sure how to pinpoint when we first fell in love with Sam Savage's superb new novel, The Cry of the Sloth.

This is the special Indiespensable edition, designed by Coffee House Press.

Was it the arch, hilarious, disturbingly existential voice of Andrew Whittaker, the protagonist? Was it the fact that the book is written as a series of letters, rental ads, grocery lists, and plaintive and barbed pleas to fellow writers? Was it that we sympathized with Andrew's plight to sift good literature from bad, while ungrateful tenants sob on his couch or throw rocks through his windows? In the end, it all adds up to the fact that Andrew is an unforgettable character, and Savage is an extraordinary writer. Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, calls the novel a "scathingly funny epistolary pastiche," and we wholeheartedly agree.

We hope you enjoy The Cry of the Sloth as much as we did, and we'd love to get a letter (electronic, scrawled on the back of a bar napkin, handwritten and wax-sealed, however you like) letting us know what you think. You can also read Jill's conversation with Sam Savage to find out more about how he came to write the book.

Best wishes,

Jill, Megan, Heidi, Kim, and Michal (the Indiespensable team)

P.S. --- Enjoy your sticker!


Dear Coffee House Press,

Congratulations on your 25th anniversary! Here's to many more years of publishing books that shape our national consciousness while strengthening a larger sense of community.

After our initial conversation about featuring Cry of the Sloth, we were awed by your enthusiasm to be part of our 14th installment of Indiespensable.

When we shared our interest in featuring a story from Brian Evenson's Fugue State, and you came back to us with the idea to make it this unique, interactive presentation piece -we knew we'd hooked up with the right folks.

You took a story about a box, made that story into a box -- AND had it signed by the author! We're certain our subscribers will treasure such a collectible (though we understand if they consider keeping it far from their bedside.)

Huge thanks for designing, setting and printing a poem from Let's Not Keep Fighting the Trojan War: Selected Poems 1986-2009 by Edward Sanders, abridged for this special edition broadside. Truly an elegant gift, it's hand-set, printed on a Chandler and Price press from the 1920's on 100% cotton rag paper (you can iron it!) from the Arches papermill in France. We're tickled pink to share this very special piece with our subscribers.

It has been a pleasure to work with you on this project, and we wish you all the best. If you were here, we'd squeeze you.


The Indiespensable Team

÷ ÷ ÷

A collective of high muckamucks, the Panjandrums largely spend their time in competitive Bananagram duels and negotiations regarding Pie Friday — not to mention painstakingly designing each installment of Powell's subscription club, Indiespensable, with the help of independent publishers and local merchants. From time to time, they find it entertaining to give you a look at the hows and whys behind the what. But, if you're yearning for more, send questions, suggestions, and random anecdotes to (They especially like stories about pets, babies, and pie fillings.)

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