Rust Belt Bindery is “a book bindery that’s committed to producing and distributing new work as well as repairing and rebinding existing objects. Working collaboratively with artists and writers, Rust Belt puts out limited edition works of fiction and artist books.” I found out about Rust Belt Bindery when their literary editor, Blake Kimzey, sent me a copy of Ashley Farmer’s “Farm Town,” a beautiful chapbook of poems replete with hand-colored illustrations from Meredith Lynn. Here’s one of Farmer’s poems, “Gone to Waste”:
Our Island of Epidemics
By Matthew Salesses
40 pp. PANK. Paper, $10.00
Our Island of Epidemics is a collection of short, interconnected fictions that offers readers the collective consciousness of an island people who suffer from short-term memory loss, unrequited love, obsession, upstoppably growing hearts (or farts), delirious joy, confused identities, ganglions, lost voices, fainting, creativity, laziness, hunger, dissociation, magic, unusual growth, illogic, overpoliteness, teeth falling out, etc.
Salesses’s skill in laying out these epidemics, these individual stories (or chapters), is that each seems new, richly imagined, and different from the other epidemics. This may be one of the most difficult tricks to pull off in a book organized around a series of epidemics that come in succession, one after another. To surprise readers, to reward their curiosity and defy their expectations, is the particular task a book like this faces, and Salesses makes it happen—confidently and with style.