Few exceptions aside, the most compelling, challenging, absorbing literary art is being produced by small presses and their respective writers. I asked a number of writers, editors, and publishers to send me a list of small press books to look out for in 2016. Below you’ll find my own list, which is informed by Kate Angus, John Cayley, Lauren Cerand, Samuel R. Delany, Rikki Ducornet, Andrew Ervin, Lily Hoang, Sean Lovelace, Scott McClanahan, Hubert O’Hearn, Jane Unrue, and Curtis White.
Below you’ll also find lists from Jeff Bursey, Tobias Carroll, Gabino Iglesias, Janice Lee, Dawn Raffel, Nick Francis Potter, John Reed, Adam Robinson, Michael Seidlinger, Terese Svoboda, Jason Teal, Angela Woodward, and Jacob Wren. All the abovementioned people are small press heroes and great writers in their own right. My thanks to all of them.
Sir Thomas's skull supported by his books. Or was it the other way round?
“…the iniquity of oblivion blindely scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity.” – Urne-Buriall, page 84
Sir Thomas Browne wrote Hydriotaphia, Urne-Buriall or, A Brief Discourse of the Sepulchrall Urnes Lately Found in Norfolk in 1658. Just a few months ago New Directions reprinted the book with opening remarks by W.G. Sebald from his chapter on Browne in The Rings of Saturn.
The discourse is brief but other worldly. As Sebald says, it’s a “part-archeological, part-metaphysical treatise,” with the first three chapters presenting the urns and their contents, how world cultures have buried their dead, as well as references to Homer, the ancient philosophers and scientists and Dante. The last two chapters are more speculative–extended flights of fancy, meditations on existence, death and the possibility of worlds beyond ours.