Starting January 1st I'm gonna be going to work at an independent publisher here in New York called Other Press. They've got this swank office with all the standard accoutrements: a fridge, a fax machine, office furniture, a supply closet, network printers, a conference room, the whole nine yards. It's on Park Avenue in the the 30s, meaning I'll be able to stare at the Chrysler Building whilst cogitating on exactly how one is supposed to "market" serious literary fiction in a country of 300 million distracted souls -- my friend K. says it's easy: just find the few thousand aficianados who give a hoot and get in touch with them directly. You know, the needles in the haystack. I'm sure gonna try, any way I can.
The whole company is comprised of sixteen people and two of them are interns. They're all whip smart, which means I'm not gonna be able to get away with dishing any shite. They'd be onto me in a sec. They also love books. You ask 'em what they're reading for pleasure and they start talking about Blood Meridian, Pnin, Mrs. Dalloway, Pamuk, Peter Stamm, Alice Munro, Speak, Memory, Liar's Club, hell, it gives me the chills to listen to their enthusiasms. It's gonna be like working in a great indie bookstore, where everybody is a real reader and a real friend, no matter how screwy their personal habits. That excites me.
Taking this job also means I can afford my rice and beans every day. That excites me too -- I was worried about having to have my pants taken in. Of course I'll still be in the terrarium, thinking big thoughts about little things and vice versa, especially on those morning commutes into the City, imagining the fat cats in company cars who go into the tunnel and stay in there all day, under the lordly Hudson, sipping cold coffee out of their travel mugs, doing deals on their handsfree cells, breathing in that lethal air, delaying their inevitable migraines with a palmful of pills. Then seeing them come out in the late afternoon driving in the opposite direction, eyes fixed on the tail-lights in front of them, gray, drowsy, headed back to the fabled burgs of suburban Jersey -- Wayne, Chatham, Mahwah, Saddle River, Little Silver, Franklin Lakes. They're living their lives and so am I. Reminds me how effin big the terrarium is.
I'll have a lot more to say about Other Press down the line. I know they're a great outfit, they only publish a couple of dozen books a year, and they're about as far removed from "corporate" publishing as is humanly possible. For now, I feel like I struck a rich vein in a dry country. Maybe tonight I break out the bubbly.