Warning: Footnotes ahead!
Last year, a new small press out of L.A. sent me some of the most beautiful little books I've ever seen. Cloverfield Press publishes small pocket-sized books (they really are the size of a shirt pocket) with beautiful letter-pressed covers that fit like dust jackets around their simple-but-elegant chapbooks. Inspired by Virginia Woolf's Hogarth Press, the folks behind the press have published work by new writers like Portlander Mary Rechner as well as indie superstar Miranda July*. They are now taking pre-orders for a Haruki Murakami story that comes out in May. Beware: the print run is only 1,000.
Another Californian doing interesting things is Don Waters. Mr. Waters published a few books under the name Versus Press back in the early '00s. His latest endeavor is an impressive and strange CD release that swirls around a short fiction by Dennis Cooper. It includes music by Guided by Voices' Bob Pollard**, Richard Hell, New Wet Kojak***, and others. It also includes a deliciously creepy spoken word track by Mr. Cooper himself.
On the local front, Portland Alt-country-rock singer Willy Vlautin, a burgeoning writer who had a computer full of unpublished novels stolen once while on tour, is enjoying some well-deserved hoopla over his first *published* novel, The Motel Life. The book is about to be released in the UK, followed by publications in Australia, New Zealand, and France. And then, finally, in the states in early 2007. Go to his web site to learn more and check out his great band, Richmond Fontaine****, while you're at it.
* Miranda July recently sold a collection of her short fiction to a major publisher. Her stories have appeared on NPR, in the Paris Review, and elsewhere. Many of you already know that Miss July made Portland her home during most of her early indie film and writing days.
** Bob Pollard also did music for the intriguing new DVD/Theater/Internet movie release, Bubble (directed by Steven Soderbergh).
*** New Wet Kojak features Johnny Temple, the publisher of Akashik Books, who publish Dennis Cooper's "Little House on the Bowery" series.
**** Willy's band is endlessly compared to the literature of Raymond Carver.