The Gonq Press and The Algonquin Bookshop

How do I even start this post?  This is a project that I have been developing for YEARS now, but I’ve always been very precious about the details (to avoid judgment/dismissal and jinxing, to keep from risking the unique edge the idea has by sharing it with the wrong people, or too many people… I sound like quite the little curmudgeon, don’t I?)  You know how it is when you’re this invested in an idea for so long…

blogbloglogo

I’m running a crowdfunding campaign to start up the Gonq Press.  We’ll be leasing an on-demand book printer (an all-in-one printing/cutting/binding unit that spits out a store-quality bound trade paperback– the Espresso Book Machine and Xerox Perfect Bind are two options– and they’re AMAZING and WE’RE IN THE FUTURE) to create curated series of public domain works, with really gorgeous letterpress covers designed by Toronto illustrators and artists.  All of the perk levels above $25 receive books (of your choice), as well as other goodies like getting snail mail, memberships to the store (see next paragraph!), and definitely some fun stuff like stickers and buttons thrown into every shipment.

Step two: opening The Algonquin Bookshop.  Yeah, I’m that person who wants to open a bookstore in the age of fatalistic articles announcing the Death Of The Printed Word.  I have some really good reasons why this is actually a GREAT idea, and why I am particularly well-suited to it.  I’m going to do a post exclusively about this part of the plan (and there’s a section about it on the crowdfunding page), but the crowdfunding campaign is just for the Gonq Press, so let’s get back to that…

We’re starting with two series of five titles each: The Blurred Line Between Fiction And Memoir, and The Lesser Works.  When we hit $5k, we’ll release the winning series of the contest we’re running**, either Selected Faulkner, Colonial Adventuring (I bet you’re terribly curious what’s in there…), Early Canadiana, or Contemporary Poetesses, and then a full set of The Chronicles Of Narnia will be released when we make it to $10k (those are going to be insane gorgeous).

Faulkner is winning hard right now, and I’m a little sullen about it because it’s not where my heart lies, but holy cow are there a lot of Faulkner superfans out there!

The Blurred Line Between Fiction And Memoir letterpress covers for on-demand book printing with the Gonq Press

The Blurred Line Between Fiction And Memoir

The Lesser Works series letterpress covers for on-demand book printing with the Gonq Press

The Lesser Works

**the contest!!!  Vote for which of the four series you’d like us to produce by commenting here, or on the IndieGoGo page, or tagging me on Twitter, and be a donor of any amount (no minimum), and we’ll choose one winner at random to receive a free set of the series we wind up releasing.  Free books, guys.  Come on.  All you gotta do is comment, and contribute a coupla bucks.

How can you help?

Contribute *any* amount– large donations are great, but so are small ones.  The number of people who support our campaign is a concrete number of “investors”/customers to be able to use to secure traditional funding for the bookstore.  The perks for some of the higher amounts are pretty sick, though :)

Share share SHARE (please)– sharing on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and/or blog is a huge deal.  The more exposure we can get, the more support this campaign can find.  Sharing on FB and whatnot is great, but specifically sending a note (with the link) directly to people you think would be interested is one of the most powerful, active things you can do to contribute– I think a lot of us just skim over links people post in statuses on Facebook.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions at all, and recommendations/tips are ALWAYS welcome.

<3

 

The Prodigal Blogger Has Returned…

Stupid Kitten's chubby self, with a sliver of my ASOIAF direwolf thigh tattoo

Life happens, right?  Here are some updates:

  • My job is great, but intense.
  • I quit my job!
  • I quit my job (on good terms) because I am working towards creating The Gonq Press and The Algonquin Bookshop.  Been running a crowdfunding campaign for it– my next post will go into more detail :)
  • My boyfriend and I are both platinum blond/e now.  One of us looks like a total skid, but I won’t tell you which.
  • I have read disturbingly little in the last few months, due to various factors too boring to go into here that also have a lot to do with why I wasn’t blogging (stress/busyness, depression, anxiety, laziness… you know the drill.)  Now reading I Was Told There’d Be Cake: Essays by Sloane Crosley because my sister-in-not-law-but-you-know-what-I-mean gave it to me for my birthday, and it’s WAY up my alley.  Reminds me a bit of Night Terrors.
  • I’m listening to A Song Of Ice And Fire in audio (having read the series once, and being obsessed with it, of course).  I have this to say about it: holy shit I love these books/Roy Dotrice pronounces Brienne’s name like “Bry-een” and it irritates the hell outta me/I may have gotten a big ol’ direwolf tattoo a few weeks ago/I am developing a crazy long ranked list of my favourite characters, and Sandor Clegane is for sure in the lead.  Actually, my number one is a group package of Tommen, Ser Pounce, Lady Whiskers, and Boots, and THEN Sandor Clegane.
  • If you’re reading this…

I’m at my job til September, and the crowdfunding runs for another 16 days, so I’m excited to be back on here but not committing to full time again yet, BUT come September, I’m scheduling out special blogging time every day, so be prepared to get sick of me and my foul mouth.

<3 Beck

P.S. I didn’t realize how much I love and miss blogging until typing this post.

The Anti-Library

(Thanks to Redditor Tedbergstrand:)

Nassim Taleb talks references this in The Black Swan. He talks about Umbeto Eco’s “anti-library” and gives this anecdote:

“The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encylopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?” and the others – a very small minority – who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight read-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary. We tend to treat our knowledge as personal property to be protected and defended. It is an ornament that allows us to rise in the pecking order. So this tendency to offend Eco’s library sensibility by focusing on the known is a human bias that extends to our mental operations. People don’t walk around with anti-resumes telling you what they have not studied or experienced (it’s the job of their competitors to do that), but it would be nice if they did. Just as we need to stand library logic on its head, we will work on standing knowledge itself on its head. Note that the Black Swan comes from our misunderstanding of the likelihood of surprises, those unread books, because we take what we know a little too seriously. Let us call this an antischolar – someone who focuses on the unread books, and makes an attempt not to treat his knowledge as a treasure, or even a possession, or even a self-esteem enhancement device – a skeptical empiricist.”

Letting Your Geek Flag Fly…

Terry Gilliam—former Monty Pythonite and the director of Time Bandits, Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas—calls it “the most romantic novel about love and family I have read. It made me ashamed to be so utterly normal.”

This article on Geek Love by Katherine Dunn is really charming.  This book is weird as hell but also unbelievably beautiful and captivating.  Read it, will ya?

Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family’s most precious–and dangerous–asset. 

As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same. -goodreads

James Joyce and Nora: a filthy love story (in comic and video form)

Kate Beaton Hark A Vagrant James Joyce erotic letters valentine's day comic

So this is my favourite thing that ever happened.  Martin Starr (of Freaks And Geeks, among other things) doing a dramatic recitation of one of James Joyce’s filthy letters to his wife Nora.  I was guffawing at a couple of points.

Have you ever read Joyce’s collection of remarkably scatalogical letters?  Well, as you may remember, I read them much younger than anyone would hope for their children, and it has always really informed my view of the man.

 

Poetry Conversion: Valentine’s Day Edition!

harpercollins author valentines herman melville

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

-Fire And Ice, Robert Frost

So cheerful, youse guys!  Happy Obligation Day 2014.

Life: A Tragicomedy In A Million Parts

It’s been a while, huh?  I feel like I do this (“this”= no posts for 2-3 weeks at a time)  sporadically and then treat it as though it’s unusual.  Since I got my job back in October, it’s been really easy to get pulled away from Algonquin Side Table, and that breaks my heart a little.  Because I love it here.  The last couple of weeks have been intense, because on top of work stuff, I moved.  Some of you have already heard The Story Of The Move; for the rest of you, just know that it was an emotionally exhausting weekend filled with magical surprises (shitty, magical surprises) and was very short notice, so I only had a couple of weeks to get my act together.

Living with Jeff is beyond fantastic, though, and we’re in the middle of trying to merge our book collections.  Between us we had probably between 25-30 boxes of books, and we are incredibly particular about shelving processes… so although you can expect an extensive tour of my library, don’t expect it too soon.  Here’s a sneak peek: we shelve according to perceived subgenre and what “feels right” next to each volume.  Intuition is a slow way of putting things in a bookcase.

We also have the bedroom set up very simply– no shelving, no desks– and have instituted a No Computers In Bed policy.  I can already feel better reading habits creeping back in (just finished The Rebel Bookseller, just started Raising Steam), and I fall asleep so much more easily that I feel like an idiot for falling asleep to the glow of a computer screen for so long.

I care a lot about blogging here, and enjoy it immensely.  I have every intention of gettin’ back to it on the regular… life just gets in the way sometimes.  The rest of this week will be spotty, but check back in on me next week to see if I have my shit together yet, okay?