Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Letter from the Editor

I don't really enjoy doing our gritty web-design work. I tend to let it stack up for a couple of weeks and then devote an entire afternoon to updating everything. One of the items that Eliza has been on me to add is a mention of the fact that each of the books included in our subscription packages come with a 'Letter from the Editor.' This letter could explain how we came to be introduced to the author, a history as a reader with the author's work, or just a general appreciation for the book.
One of the great distinctions for an independent publisher is the opportunity to interact directly with readers. Our idea as a press from the very beginning was to be inclusive and honest about who we were. (Someone had suggested once that we find an intern just to answer the phone and say we were busy, which is laughable to think back on now.) The intent of these letters was to include our subscribers, to allow them entry into the process of publishing.
Here is one example of the Letter from the Editor for Nog by Rudolph Wurlitzer, which we published in August 2009 (but which subscribers received when the book arrived from the printer in May '09):

"My first meeting with Rudy Wurlitzer was in a townhouse in the East Village. Two Dollar Radio was operating out of a cluttered loft in Bedford Stuyvesant, and Rudy was in town for a few days from Hudson, NY. Having no great suggestions for where we could sit down and chat about the prospect of publishing The Drop Edge of Yonder, he suggested we find a quiet room at the house where he was staying. The house turned out to belong to Philip Glass, and the entire time that we were speaking, Glass was plugging away at his piano in the room directly above where we spoke. It was surreal, and when I left I knew that something had happened that I would remember for the rest of my life.
"I loved the title Nog. And the blurbs and reviews that the book received at the time of its original publishing placed a profound level of significance on the work that would gradually be forgotten or eclipsed as time passed by all but an underground group of worshippers that rallied to the book, recommending it to friends, starting Facebook fan pages, and writing blog entries. It is an important book. As Pynchon said in his blurb, “very important in an evolutionary way,” and I’ve found Wurlitzer’s following novels, Flats and Quake (which we’ll be reissuing this fall), to be strangely prescient, especially in the wake of our modern natural catastrophes and instinctive human reactions to these.
"Wurlitzer is authentic. He is one of the few American artists that have traveled the highways and byways between literature and Hollywood frequently while remaining true to both his voice and his vision. It is our mission by reissuing his earlier novels to gain him the respect and the attention that we feel he deserves. He is, as Library Journal so aptly put it, “a major American writer.”"

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