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Indiespensable Display CaseBelow you'll find a showcase of surprises included in past Indiespensable shipments.
We had a hard time deciding what goodies were worthy to be packed side by side with David Small's amazing Stitches. Finally, it came down to this: pair Small's gorgeous images with beautiful words. Sarah Hall's How to Paint a Dead Man, a paperback original long-listed for the Booker Prize, fit the bill beautifully. Then we thought, why not hear more from Small himself, who, in his interview with Dave, so eloquently expressed the motivation behind his masterpiece? Hence, the inclusion of the interview card. It should also come as no surprise that we have a soft spot for Merge Records, a scrappy independent record label celebrating its 20th anniversary, and so we happily added a sneak peek into Our Noise, the book celebrating their achievement.
Poor Claudia? Nothing poor about it. This small, local press turned out an elegant little volume, chock-full of illustrations and works by Portland's up-and-comers signed by them, too! with the first edition of their sure to be popular Bucket Book lit journal series. We also learned a new trick with this volume: entice authors with bacon-maple bars from Voodoo Donuts. Jessica Anthony noshed hers while patiently signing a thousand (really 1,000!) author cards for us. (She earned that pastry.) Clever design by Lenore combined with juicy tidbits revealed Q&A-style ("Turkey in the Straw"!) make it one of our favorite cards yet. Finally, we gave subscribers a challenge, how to fill the 16-ounce void presented by our new Powell's pint glass. We imagine you discovered (and possibly invented) dozens of tasty libations to do the job. Why not, share your favorites! We're always looking for delicious new ways to achieve maximum refreshment.
Everybody's talking about the scoutbooks. Could they be Indiespensable's best gift so far? Dunno, but they may be the most useful. Dressed in Nikki McClure's gorgeous, paper-cut illustrations, one comes lined, a second with graph paper, and the third with blank pages. Following our crow theme (whose inspiration was an interloping bird in The Twin), we custom-printed an excerpt from Lyanda Lynn Haupt's fascinating Crow Planet. And we jumped at the chance to share a sneak peak at three novels (1, 2, 3) that McSweeney's will be publishing this summer, even if those aren't crow's feet on the cover.
How do you follow gourmet chocolate? With basil, apparently. When Kim introduced us to Garden-in-a-Bag, we thought, Cool little did we know that the herbaceous goodie would prove almost as popular as the confection in Volume 9. And because Algonquin has been such a stellar Indiespensable partner (see Volume 2), we decided to round out the box with another literary treat from the Carolina-based publisher: a chapbook featuring "Me and Big Foot," from Jill McCorkle's forthcoming story collection, Going Away Shoes. We do harbor quite a Big Foot fascination round these parts.
"Quick," went the cry in our office. "Let's include Alma chocolate before the summer heat makes shipping it too complicated!" And so it was done. In Volume 9, subscribers received a small box of delicious confections to enjoy while admiring their limited edition, autographed, 56-page hardcover chapbook of "A Day's Pleasure," the first section of Glen David Gold's forthcoming novel, Sunnyside. But we couldn't tease you with just the start of the book; that's why we also included an advance copy of the complete novel more than a month before its publication. But wait there's more? Yes: two original stories from Amplified, a new collection of short fiction by great songwriters.
Sometimes rarely, but it does happen you don't want to read. Must you abandon the couch, however? Heavens, no! Not with more than three hours of DVD goodness curated by the fine folks at McSweeney's: Wholphin is a DVD magazine of short, independent films. (A wholphin, in case you're wondering, is a cross between a whale and a dolphin.) And while you're lounging in flannel pajamas, admire Andi Watson's beautiful cover art in our limited edition print autographed by Couch author Benjamin Parzybok.
Nothing satisfies in winter like delicious, organic, free-trade chocolate from Dagoba in Ashland, Oregon. We worried, however, that some subscribers might be a bit overzealous upon opening the package, so we included a limited edition Powell's mug (not available in stores), just in case. Understand, there's a reason why they call it hot chocolate. Use the mug, people, not your hands!
"Going down the crow road," we learned from Iain Banks, is a slang expression for death. Our Halloween edition of Indiespensable, then, quite logically brimmed with fatality. Dearly Departed features 15 original songs by some of Portland's best bands, each inspired by a resident of the Lone Fir Cemetery. Meanwhile, we were inspired by Graeme Thomson's book, I Shot a Man in Reno: A History of Death by Murder, Suicide, Fire, Flood, Drugs, Disease, and General Misadventure, as Related in Popular Song, so we asked the publisher, Continuum, to reproduce the epilogue ("The Forty Greatest Death Records") in 'zine form and Graeme was kind enough to pen a special introduction for our subscribers. Volume 6 also included a deck of our famous (well, in the way that your corner pizza joint claims to be famous) Indiespensable cards.
What better complement to Miriam Toews's great road trip novel than a pocket atlas? And what's a road trip without a bumper sticker from your favorite independent bookseller? While you're cruising some blue highway, enjoy another installment of Indiespensable cards. But wait until a rest stop to unfold the John Hodgman poster. His taxonomy of complete world knowledge WILL SURELY BLOW YOUR MIND (and send you careening off the shoulder).
Our first Portland-centric box featuring the only hardcover edition of Monica Drake's critically acclaimed debut, Clown Girl introduced subscribers to another local artist with a bright future, Aron Nels Steinke, whose Super Crazy Cat Dance is a joy for readers of all ages. Of course it was the rubber chicken keychain (to match Clown Girl's jacket photo) that got all the attention. People do love goofy toys. And author cards.
Two signed first editions in one box?! It's true. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle would go on to become 2008's mega-selling debut; Indiespensable subscribers got copies long before the buzz. (Dave will tell you that The Outlander is just as good a novel, if not better. But do not trust Dave. He's irrationally infatuated with Canadian authors.) Two novels that's a lot of reading. But we were so excited about Ecco's forthcoming State by State collection that we also included a 107-page sampler. And another deck of cards.
Around the time we shipped Mudbound, Anchor Books published Ian McEwan's latest novel in paperback. Would readers of Hillary Jordan's debut enjoy On Chesil Beach? We thought they would odds were favorable, certainly. So we added a DVD of Powell's very first Out of the Book film to subscribers' packages. And set number two of the author cards.
Volume 1 featured our first-ever batch of Indiespensable cards. In the die-cut deck, readers found three fancy author trading cards, an interview with Lydia Millet, and more. But it's the cookie they won't stop talking about. All this time later, it remains the gift that subscribers reference most often. Thank you, Elephants Deli, baker of delicious shortbread cookies dipped in mint white chocolate. You see, our debut Indiespensable selection, How the Dead Dream, featured an elephant on its cover. So we thought... Well, we'll let you connect the crumbs.