Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New initiatives

You don't need me to tell you that all sorts of new initiatives in the book-publishing business are being launched on a daily basis. Here are a few which have come my way.

An outfit called Blood and Treasure has set up shop to publicise a new book called Institutionalized. This has the great virtue of being a comedy, so at least they don't take themselves -- or at least the world -- too seriously. You can download the first chapter and test-drive it free.

Then there's a new blog from That Girl Who Writes Stuff. If nothing else, That Girl has read and enjoyed some seriously weird stuff, and has links to some horrible dog-fights in the world of underground literature. She is a Noah Cicero fan, by the way. And also reads Carlton Mellick, so she clearly has nerves of some tough substance of the kind that used to be made in Sheffield. When I were a lad.

And finally we have the Mainstay Press. I take my hat off to anyone who founds a new publishing company in this day and age. Yes, I've done it myself. Sort of. (Kingsfield Publications, and if you're trying to find a publisher for your own book, please note the statement on the home page.) But it takes some money, more time than you could possibly imagine, and a great deal of effort. In return you get... well, frankly, not a lot. Except the satisfaction of doing the job well.

The Mainstay Press mission statement says that the firm 'publishes books geared to social change, along with other political books – fiction and non-fiction both. Mainstay books help readers understand the realities and possibilities of contemporary social and political life – the life of the public that is profoundly related to the personal lives of people everywhere.The politically progressive literary and popular works of Mainstay Press challenge the politically limited nature of American (U.S.) fiction, in particular, by exploring public realms of crisis today...' And so forth.

Serious stuff, you will understand. The three founders describe themselves as 'world class writers' and that's OK by me. Modesty, as I have often remarked before, is the enemy of talent. And they are certainly fearsomely intellectual, with several published works each.

The Mainstay web site offers a long and very high-powered essay on progressive political fiction, by Tony Christini, and there are other offerings on the same level from the other two founders, Andre Vltchek and Mike Palecek.

Well, another of my regular comments is this: The last great privilege of the Englishman is that he can still afford -- just -- to ignore politics. And I used to believe it. But I don't think I do any longer. Not with George Galloway on Celebrity Big Brother.

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