Thursday, January 13, 2011

Small Beer Press

I love small presses and imprints. If a big publisher such as Harper Collins is a CBS or an NBC, then a small press like New York Review Books or Dalkey Archive Press is an HBO or a Showtime or an Independent Film Channel. You won't see their books as often on bestseller lists, so you might have to search a bit to find out about them, but if you want to read something a bit different, something you've never read before, small presses are a great place to start.

My particular favorite is probably Small Beer Press, who are located in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and who have, over the past decade, brought out a consistent string of great books. We have a number of nice examples here at the Urbana Free Library, so don't take my word for it, but go check some out--here are a few good places to start.

This is the first Small Beer Press book I read, back in 2003, and it blew me away. Interesting trivia: it was translated into English by none other than Ursula K. Le Guin.

Meeks, by Julia Holmes.
This was one of my favorite novels of 2010. Imagine a 1984 or Brave New World painted by Seurat or Monet, with music by Debussy, and secret police eating cake while they hunt down conspirators in the municipal park.

Fowler is probably best known for her novel The Jane Austen Book Club, but if you imagined all her fiction was similar then you would be wrong. She's funny and can be quite dark, a combination I love, as in the first story in this book, "Pelican Bar," which won both the World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson Awards.

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