BEA: The Publishers, Part One

I’ve arrived back in San Francisco. But with all the information I have to process, I’m not done with BEA by a long shot. To get a head start, I started listening to one of the minidiscs on the flight and transcribed the following notes until my laptop battery ran out. (DFW fans, take note. Major details on Consider the Lobster to follow.)

Please note that because my crap is still packed, I’ll be referring to the publishing houses as “they” and “them.” I did in fact speak with specific people, but I want to ensure that I spell their names right. So without further ado:

Again, I can’t convey how cool the people at Soft Skull Press are. Poor Richard Nash was sounding hoarse when Bud and I talked with him at length during the Independent Consortium party. By the time he got to PGW, the poor man was sans voice. But I did want to point to two nonfiction titles on the catalog that were introduced to me: Michael Standaert’s Skipping Towards Armageddon, a takeoff on Joan Didion’s famous book, is an expose that dishes the dirt on the Left Behind series. Equally noteworthy is a collection entitled America’s Mayor, which is critical of Rudolph Guiliani and examines his legacy before 9/11 (a mayorship that seems all too overlooked these days).

I hooked up with the folks at Tor to see if they had any emerging science fiction authors that they were promoting. What’s interesting is that, aside from the next Wheel of Time volume coming nout on October 11 and The Road to Dune (which will collect several previously unpublished Frank Herbert essays), Tor has shifted to an interesting YA emphasis with a new imprint called Starscape. The field is relatively new for them. And it’s a particularly interesting direction for Tor and for science fiction in general, given that Monkeybrain is also specializing in pure speculative adventure anthologies (inspired by the Chabon-edited anthologies for McSweeney’s). If I had to offer a prediction, I think we’re going to be seeing a good deal of books that pay homage to Heinlein-style juvenile fiction and a return to Golden Age-style speculative fiction in the next year or two. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. On one hand, part of me sees this as a backlash to the prodigious work of China Mieville and John C. Wright. But if both subgenre markets are allowed to flourish, then this is still a good sign that speculative fiction is alive and well.

At St. Martin’s, there’s a hot allegorical title coming in October. And David Maine (who may very well be a smarter Gregory Maguire) has a new retelling of Cain and Abel called The Preservationist. St. Martin’s is also publishing a TPB original novel called Away from You, wirtten by Melanie Finn. The novel tells the tale of a South African woman living in the States who has to go back to her home country and unravel a family mystery.

Not sure how much I got into it with my APE report, but Drawn and Quarterly has a lot of Joe Sacco-style comics journalism titles coming up. War’s End is a followup by Sacco to The Fixer. It’s a collection of two short stories set in Bosnia. [UPDATE: Jessa writes in to let me know that the Sacco pieces have been previously collected and are not, in fact, followups.]

There’s also Baghdad Journal from Steve Mumford. Mumford took three trips to Iraq and drew what he saw there. It’s due out in October. Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang chronicles a French cartoonist who went to North Korea to work for an animation company. He spent three to four months there. The D&Q folks assured me that it had a dark comic tone.

For more traditional titles from D&Q, Seth’s new volume, Wimbledon Dream, is “a complete departure from anything he’s done.” But then that’s the case with nearly anything Seth does. Even so, this volume is in the form of a scrapbook, but, unlike other scrapbooks, it tells a linear narrative. Michael Rabagliati has a follow up to Paul Has a Summer Job called Paul Goes Out, an autobiographical story about getting a first apartment in 1983.

Little Brown has several interesting titles. Rick Moody’s The Diviners is a comic novel set in the movie business about vanity, ambition and the frantic pace of lives. While we’re not all that crazy about Moody, this novel has been declared “ambitious” and has Moody using a broader canvas for his characters. There’s alos a first novel centered around a mother/daughter growing up in Tahiti. (I’ll have the exact name after I unpack.)

Finally, we come to David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster — also set to be published by Little Brown. Here’s what I found out:

  • The book comes out in January 2006.
  • It includes “about twelve” essays. (The title essay is, of course, the one that appeared in Gourmet.
  • The infamous “Host” essay will appear.
  • There will be an essay that DFW published under a psuedonym where he attended the Adult Video News Awards, confronted his own shame, and contemplated the desexualizaition of sex.
  • One essay’s on Updike, the other’s on Dostoevesky.
  • “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart,” the essay about the 14 year old girl tennis player that DFW knew better than any adult, will be there.
  • Apparently, there’s also an essay on language and culture in which DFW uses the publication of the American Usage Guide to talk about what gets put into dictionaries, who lets cerrtain words in, dictionary making, and deconstruction. DFW confronts the decay of language, and how it is enhanced by the publications of these dictionaries. The title page of this essay is in 4 point type and contains hundreds and hundreds of solaces he’s collected over the years.

Also from Little Brown, Walter Mosley has new Easy Rawllins novel coming out. Los Angeles 1967. Easy Rawlins meets hippies. The previous novels were Mosley’s father’s Los Angeles, but this one begins in Mosley’s own Los Angeles (meaning the one that he personally experienced). Apparently, when Mosley was a teenager in 1967, he used to drive to the Sunset Strip and want to be a hippie.

I am now about to collapse. More later.

Also, Mary Reagan (who I was glad to meet) has some great photos up. As does Nathalie.

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  1. If that usage/dictionary article is the one that was in the Atlantic a few years back it is worth the price of admission by itself.

  2. I think the usage/dictionary article was in Harpers and was titled “Tense Present: Democracy, English and the Wars over Usage”

    The AVN article was called “Neither Adult Nor Entertainment” – from Premier Magazine

  3. I don’t think the title is “ironic” in the way “readerof…” suggests. Those who read the Gourmet essay know Wallace made a sincere, if conflicted, plea to spare a few moments thought on the animal being cooked alive.

  4. Hey, Champ. David Maine’s Cain and Abel book is called Fallen. The Preservationist was a retelling of the Noah story.

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