2009 IPPY !

May 8, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

We are the happy recipients of an award from Independent Publisher–they’ve given the Independent Voice Award to our very own Lust & Cashmere! I got the following off the IP website, so you can go here to check out the full list of award winners (and learn more about IP).

Announcing the 2009 IPPY Outstanding Books of the Year

Special awards recognize the daring spirit of independent authors and publishers

For 26 years our mission at Independent Publisher has been to recognize and encourage the work of publishers who exhibit the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground, and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society. These medalists were chosen from our regular entries for exemplifying this daring spirit. Here are the winners of this year’s Outstanding Book of the Year awards, including two new categories established this year: the Independent Spirit Award recognizes the book project our judges found the most heartfelt and unique, and the Independent Voice Award recognizes the year’s most experimental, boundary-pushing voice among our fiction entries.

Posted by Nick Sarno

 

You have been teaching at a boys’ school for three years. You teach geometry. You describe circles and points and parallel lines. The boys like you because you have a boy’s smile. You draw circles on the board with vigor, using your forearm as the circle’s diameter. You execute the circle rapidly, with manic speed, supposing that your diameter might be less affected by human error if you describe its bounds as quickly as possible.
The effort makes your blond hair come loose and cling to the inspired damp on your forehead.

Despite your best efforts the circles you perform are always imperfect. This makes you sad. And as the inconsistent curvature of your formal circles persists your sleep has become similarly arduous. Your sadness has been deepening. You are disappointed in your lack of improvement.

One day you catch Simon Dobbs with a Playboy during an exam. You take the magazine away without saying anything; the room continues to scribble in the interim, furtive and beady eyes peering up to discover consequence. Your pupils scratch bare lead on paper. You remain impassive, flipping through the glossy pages of April, and turning the magazine for appraisal when perpendicularity demands. now you think of chicks. The bell rings and the boys shuffle toward the door, dropping tests on your desk before making their way outside.

You cough. Your cough is an ice breaker. “Mr. Dobbs, I’d like to speak with you a moment if you wouldn’t mind.”

Simon Dobbs puts his test on the desk. He is staring at the ground with hot cheeks.

“Look at me.”

“Yessir.”

“You must keep these two things separate. This is geometry,” you point to the circle you had described. For a moment its imperfections distract. You blink. “This is geometry,” you say again, pointing this time to the desk. “Geometry is not to be muddled by this.” You put the Playboy on the desk in front of the boy. “Vice versa. Do you understand? Vice Versa.”

“Yessir.”
“You don’t. You don’t understand yet, but,” you shrug boyishly, “maybe you will. I bet you might.”

“I hope so,” says Dobbs.

“You will. Here,” you gesture to the glossy. “It’s yours. Take it.” As an afterthought, you add, “I really like that spread. I thought it was pretty good.”

 

THE END

Posted by Nick Sarno

 

The following can be found in Lust and Cashmere. Lust and Cashmere can be found here.

It was soft like a girl. Always small and soft like a girl. Sort of dirty like a girl, until I cleaned it. Now it was small and clean, but still soft. I looked for the girl, the one who went with the sweater. If I found her, she would have found it and she would wear it and it would be worn and she would be warm. When it would get cold she would rub the top of her arm and her elbow and cuddle with herself, with her arm, with the sweater. And the sweater would feel good, because of the soft grope. But I didn’t find her. I kept the sweater.
***
I can tell you this about Jonnie, when he’s out walking around and looking at the world through his blue doe eyes, he is looking for things to fuck. But you wouldn’t know it because he doesn’t know it; he takes it in stride-walks like a tourist. This is a story about blond Jon McManus
There was a particular night that embraced him. Blond Jon left his house for a party and knew the evening would be different. Already, he loved that night because he felt it opening up with promise: it was a rocking, fecund night. It teased him with possibility and his senses grew prematurely drunk by the rustling of night’s creatures that followed the wake of his path.
He arrived at the party. He had fun drinking and dancing with the sweaty mob of people he did and did not talk to. He made a good joke when he was outside cooling off, and when the people laughed he felt close to them. There was a girl smoking a cigarette who laughed too and he wondered if she might be the one to embody the night for him. He felt close to the world on that night, so close that even when the smoking girl went back to party without him, nothing was lost.
Bricks, bushes, and a cup of warm beer made his walk home. The night was around him in every way. The beer in his veins filled him with the night; it dissolved his singular identity, and together, Blond Jon and the night, met and mingled. Everything was wet so it glistened; everything he saw felt different because of the night. Blond Jon was as close to a blank slate as he could be, and he moved with a lumbering grace that would be forgotten in the morning.
The light changed on a bush where fabric absorbed it; a question rose in Jon’s mind. Jon McManus focused on that question and in doing so repronounced his singularity. From that singularity, other temptations were born. They swelled and multiplied inside of his head.
Blond Jon woke up, turned over, and saw the sweater in his closet.
***
McManus was a man-child: a big blond hockey jersey with Keds. He touched the people he met. He liked cookies and chocolate milk. He was a man-child with missing teeth.
***
With the party over and his roommates asleep, McManus took me out and laid me on the couch. Head still drenched with sweat and beer, he held me up against the light and contemplated.
Looking into his eyes I saw him fall in love. I saw those same eyes change. Without affecting his smile Jonathon’s eyes betrayed concern. Quicker than when he first picked me up, I was tucked back into the darkness of his trousers and carried to the bedroom. In the closet, underneath dirty laundry, I waited for morning. I thought I knew what would happen. Jonathon was not the first to find me alone at the end of the night.
Sure enough, he carried me down the cobblestone street the next day. Inside a storefront, I was brought in line with naval uniforms stinking of urine, vomit and semen from Saturday night. I was back on his bed before nightfall. A small lamp lit the room dimly and Jonathon rubbed my newness between the thumb and index finger of his right hand. With his left one he contemplated the homemade flyer he would Xerox and post. “SWEATER FOUND!” it said, “All inquiries to contact Blond Jon McManus.” And then, after a moment’s pause, he’d added his phone number.
The flyers were not posted for weeks. When they were, he posted them beneath other, older notices. And then, each night, McManus took me out of his closet looked at me as though he wanted more than ever to meet her.
***
Bow three times west. One. Two. Three. Three times south. One. Two. Three. East. Two. Three. North, just like someone taught me. Bless what you’ve got, someone said. I’ve got a dry cleaners wedged in between an abandoned building and McDonald’s. I’ve got some kids who don’t like to work and a dying mother. I’m outside with a smoking stick blessing what I’ve got. God bless what I’ve got. This chemical factory. These stinking suits. Again. Three times north.
Here comes someone. He’s tall. Taller than most doors where I come from. He’d be good for my daughter. He would help her with things. Like lifting boxes into the closet. He’s got something in his hands. He’s going to walk by me and go into McDonald’s for French fries. He looks confused. Maybe he’s lost. He gets there-to the door of McDonald’s, and then he seems less confused. He looks at me and I stop blessing what I’ve got. In his hands he’s got a sweater-all crunched up in a ball. Like he found it under a tire somewhere.
“I found this.” he says. I’m kind of amazed at that; it’s nice. “How fast can you clean it?” he asks, polite, but not friendly. He wouldn’t be good for my daughter. He wouldn’t listen to her well. She would get angry with him and come looking to me for help.
***
Allison was curious about who put up the fliers but was unable to bring herself to call the number. She was curious about who had her sweater. The bottom of the flier read: “Call Blond Jon McManus,” and then there was a number. The curiosity she had about her sweater made the name stick in her head. She would repeat it to herself, wondering whose name it was. She was only a freshman and she didn’t know many people so she didn’t know whose name it was. Finally, she asked her roommate, Dana. Dana was a freshman too, but she knew lots of people. She spoke to whomever she pleased and didn’t ever feel embarrassed. Her friends were always stopping by the room to look for her. Instead they always found Allison; Dana was a busy girl, and it was something her friends never seemed to consider. Instead they always nodded at Allison, both disappointed and polite.
When Allison asked Dana if she knew Jonathon McManus, Dana responded with a snort. She nodded her head wildly, as if to suggest what a character this boy was and how well she knew him and how fun everything was. She told Allison off-handedly that she would point him out sometime. Allison waited patiently.
One day, they were both leaving the room at the same time to go to class and they walked together. As they were walking across the quad, a big blond boy with very pale skin came out of Crispin Hall. Allison looked over at him and heard Dana speak the mysterious name, ‘Jonathon McManus. “That’s Jonnie McManus”, Dana said. Finally, Allison had seen him. Finally each of those familiar flyers could borrow shape from this grinning, big-handed boy.
After that, Allison watched him. It happened sort of accidentally. When she saw him in the cafeteria, she would sit two tables away, within eyeshot. She would sit alone, but she didn’t mind. While she watched him she would think to herself: “There’s Jonnie McManus and he has my sweater”. It was such a soft sweater. Allison wore it in high school and loved the way it felt on her skin. Sometimes she wore it without any under shirt so that she could feel the softness lying equally on all parts of her chest. She wore it to that party because it felt so good; she thought she would be safe in it even if the party got out of hand.
She puzzled over Jon McManus, and poked listlessly at her salad. That big boy seemed so different from her sweater; it was funny that he had it. She liked knowing something about someone else, even when that someone seemed so far away.
***
It was clear that the sweater had made a big impression on Jonnie McManus. He mentioned it in an all too off-manner to a large number of people. Inevitably those people found out from each other what Jon had shared with them about the female qualities of the garment. We all knew that he could not, and would not let it go. But Jon had really backed himself into a corner this time. He had been talking to a girl about the virtues of the sweater. He proceeded to describe the sweater in overflowing terms. Eventually, after sheepishly mentioning that he had tried the sweater on and found it too small, the girl asked the question that Jon should have seen coming.
Can I have the sweater?
What could Jon do?
He turned red and tried to make a joke out of it. When she kept asking for it he began to stutter. Finally, he just said no.
***
Jonnie McManus graduated from college. After accepting his diploma from the Dean, he packed up his station wagon and returned to Boston with his parents. He was living in the same house he had grown up in, and now, the lies had to be perfect.
For Jonnie, the perfect lie is pretty easy to understand. The truth is, for him, like a fuse box, and lies result when certain fuses get blown. The rest of the story is about a busted fuse.
***
Because it was so soft, even though it was too small, it was nice to touch. And I carried it around, in my hands; it was like having velvet fingertips. It was soft like a girl, a sweet soft girl. And I carried it around in the day like a sweater, but at night like a girl. Then I was in my father’s office, just sitting, with the sweater. It was in the day, but it was so soft. And it was cold. It felt like the night.
***
I have a son.
I don’t think he’s gay, but he has this sweater.
I think it must be from a girl he knew once.

we just got this super-sweet review/interview posted! you can read it here, or check it out on its original site here! Thanks Laura!

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Preserving our Independents: Green Lantern Press

By Laura Pearson | 12.10.08

Caroline Picard is the Director of The Green Lantern Gallery and Press, and–like the two Chicagoans featured in the last installment of Preserving Our Independents–she is busy. That is, in a creatively productive sense. In 2005, Picard established The Green Lantern in a building above the Singer Sewing Shop at 1511 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. The 1,200-foot loft space serves as a venue for all kinds of community art events–exhibitions, film screenings, readings, live music performances, even occasional “acro-cat” circuses and informal break-dance battles.

Besides being a gallery owner, Picard is–among other things–a painter, collagist, writer, and bookbinder. By establishing an independent press as part of The Green Lantern (now a 501(c)3 organization), Picard reinforced her desire to work across mediums. The Green Lantern Press publishes limited edition original fiction with an emphasis on “underdressed intelligence.” According to the mission statement, these are works that “relate old dusty books to contemporary experience without a lot of noise and pointing”–works like Nicholas Sarno’s God Bless the Squirrel Cage, Moshe Zvi Marvit’s Urbesque, and A.E. Simn’s Lust and Cashmere. The GLP also publishes Phonebook, a handy guide to alternative art spaces in the U.S.

A unique aspect of the press is its “slow media” approach: Books are printed in small, collector’s editions of 1,500. The first 500 books in each print run feature silkscreened covers designed by local artists. The remaining “no frills” editions are sold at a lower price, allowing the books to reach a larger audience. This is just one way that Picard, and her collaborators at The Green Lantern, approach their publications and projects with imagination and resourcefulness. Picard believes that many Chicagoans have these qualities in spades. “I don’t think I could have started [in any other city],” she says. “There is such a strong DIY tradition here. I was talking to a friend of mine once about how Chicago is like the Wild West, where anyone can come and set up a little shanty, put a sign out, and sell bonds. People will always come to check it out. They buy the bonds and, generally speaking, the bonds are legit. Sometimes they’re fake, and then people stop going…. But how crazy that people are always willing to give you the benefit of the doubt!”

I corresponded with Picard about the origins of The Green Lantern, book publishing as compared to co-op milk production, and future projects.

Laura Pearson: I’m curious about how you started The Green Lantern. Did it begin as an individual project or a collaborative effort?

Caroline Picard: The Green Lantern began years ago in a series of conversations that ebbed and flowed between myself, Nick Sarno, Jason Bacasa, and a handful of others who happened to be in the same bar or coffee shop at the same time. Depending on who was involved in the conversation, it tended to have different emphases, For instance, I remember sitting on a stoop with Moshe [Zvi Marvit] in Washington D.C. He suggested we one day buy a warehouse building and open a bar with live music for our friend, Peter Speer, who runs an independent music label called Colonial Records (at the time an undeveloped idea without a name). Moshe suggested we could fund the press with the bar, offer live music, and hang art on the walls. I believe we had just come from a lecture given by Noam Chomsky, after which Moshe (age 20 at the time) and I (18) shook the man’s hand and informed him that we wanted to start a revolution. Chomsky gave us his card. I think, somehow, opening the bar was tied into the revolution idea, but I can’t be sure.

A few years later, after college, Nick and I were roommates in San Francisco and the idea resurfaced. This time we thought we’d start a literary journal. We did the research, felt daunted by the economic prospects and, in all honesty, didn’t have the money. The house we lived in caught on fire; I moved to Philadelphia, another roommate moved to Florida, and the other two–Nick and Kate–stayed in the city.

Obviously, things don’t turn out the way one expects, though I think this is generally for the better. We’d always been interested in independent venues and culture, and it was probably only a matter of time before one of us set up shop someplace. The literal beginning of The Green Lantern happened somewhat arbitrarily. I had lived in Chicago for a year, house-sitting. I decided I would stay in the city more permanently and needed to find a more permanent place to live. I looked at various apartments–dark garden places with sketchy landlords and high price tags. In the midst of this, I happened to walk past the Singer Sewing Machine Shop. Above it, there was a For Rent sign. I went to look at it and realized that it would be cheaper to run a space than go to grad school. It would also be more efficient to run an apartment gallery than to rent a single apartment and a studio (I was painting at the time). So I took the place. The next day I called Nick and asked him if he wanted to start the press with me. That was it.

LP: Were there other small publishers that you looked to for inspiration?

CP: I don’t know. Featherproof, certainly. McSweeney’s. Even the not-so-indie New Yorker magazine.

We got our business model from Slow Food organizations. I worked for a year at The Cowgirl Creamery, an artisan cheese company in California. For that year I helped make 350 cheeses a day (their production has gone way up since). The Slow Food movement has enabled mom-and-pop dairies to stay open. By becoming organic, they are able to control their price points, and thus thrive outside of the rubric of co-op milk production, which, from what I understand, is a real machine that streamlines production to such an extent as to squeeze out the little guys. I really liked this approach, because it showed how innovation and creative thinking could create new avenues of economy that then liberate the individual within the corporate system. Obviously, The Green Lantern has a long way to go before we get to such a point. I hope we can though.

LP: GLP publications are lovingly designed! I understand you’ve chosen different silkscreeners (Mat Daly, Alana Bailey) to design the covers. Any specific artists you’d like to work with in the future?

CP: This year we’re working with Nick Butcher from Sonnenzimmer. I don’t know who we’ll work with next year, but I like the idea that each year is a kind of screen-printer’s residency.

LP: What’s next for GLP?

CP: I’m working out the exhibition schedule for 2009/2010 this January. We will be publishing a few smaller books, in editions of 100–200, a long prose poem by Devin King that references The Odyssey, a translation of Rimbaud’s “A Season in Hell” by Nick Sarno (the proceeds of which will be donated to a children’s hospital in San Francisco), as well as a reprint of The North Georgia Gazette, a newspaper published in 1821 by a fleet of English sailors who were trapped in the Arctic for nine months. Our edition will include the original manuscript, as well as an excerpt from the Captain’s journal, some annotations kept by the transcriber, Lily Robert-Foley, and contemporary artworks by Jason Dunda, Daniel Anhorn, Rebecca Grady, Deb Sokolow, and Nick Butcher, who will be pressing a 7-inch record. This book–it’s probably our most ambitious project–is due for release in February, in an edition of 250. Nick Butcher is also going to be making the covers.

The next book we’re gearing up for is an original novel by Terri Griffith, due out this spring. Next fall, we’re going to release a book called The Concrete of Tight Places, by Justin Andrews, as well as a collection of short stories by Ashley Murray.

Which, I guess is to say, we’re going to be really busy. In the best way.

LP: In keeping with the final question of my last column, what are three words you’d use to describe your independent publishing experiences in Chicago?

CP: Wide open. Supportive.

Ravaged Love

October 28, 2008

Q:  I met this sweater.  It is soft like a girl.  I want to know:  is it wrong to be in love with a sweater?  I don’t know what to do.  It torments me in my darkest hours.  I can’t help it.  When it’s not around, I can’t think of anything else.  And when it is around, I have to touch it, to rub it against myself, stroke myself with it.  Once after I came in it I rubbed it against my father’s face while he was sleeping.  Our relationship has never been quite the same since.  If you ask me, I think he’s jealous of the sweater.  What should I do?

– all knotted up.

 

A:  Get rid of the sweater immediately.  It is a terrible threat to your health and sanity.  Dispose of it in a black bag.  Tie a red string around the bag to close it up and leave it at the Lincoln statue at the corner of Western and Ashland at 3pm tomorrow exactly.  Don’t ask why.  Just do it.

 

 

Read Johnny’s full story in Lust&Cashmere by A.E. Simns now available from The Green Lantern Press.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0978575660

posted by caroline picard

Lust & Cashmere, a choose your own adventure tale about a man who falls in love with a sweater is available for $20. Please visit our website: http://www.press.thegreenlantern.org/catalogue.html or spdbooks.org for more details.

and terribly, terribly,

i found myself wrapped up in the garment for once i had put it on, i found i could not take it off

and further, though i struggled to rid myself of its dark presence

i found i didn’t want to let it go

the terror of lust

and loathing in one