Archive | June, 2008

A Compendium of Miniatures by Tiffany Lee Brown

Tiffany Lee Brown (writer) and Clare Carpenter (design and book)

Tiffany Lee BrownTiffany Lee Brown and Clare Carpenter produced a book this last spring, A Compendium of Miniatures. It is a hand-bound, hand-set letterpress 48-page book that was produced in an edition of fifty copies. It has already sold out. (Well, nearly sold out. There are still a few left.) The book itself is beautiful. It uses type cutter Frederick Goudy’s Deepdene (named for Goudy’s long-time home) a face informed by the end of the Arts and Craft movement and the demands of machine composition at the turn of the century. However, unlike the type he designed for the University of California Press, (Berkeley) Deepende is free of short descenders. The face is a great choice for a book that recalls the handmade, small press productions of the turn of the last century.

The prose snippets used throughout the book also recall early Modernist experiments. The book explores a very simple structure in 23 variations. Almost all of the entries in the book link a general abstraction, such as hope, love, or truth to a very specific and brief passage.

For example…

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My Books in Google Books

Matt Briggs's books on Google Books Search Three of my books are available through Google Books, Misplaced Alice, The Remains of River Names, and my book to be released soon by Final State Press, The End is the Beginning. The entire contents of each books is searchable. Large portions of books published by Final State Press are available. The Remains of River Names, offered through Black Heron Press, has a much more limited preview. It is weird to see keywords called out: Charlotte Bronte, Branwell, grunions, red velvet cake, Tony the Tiger, caffeine, dump truck, soft boy, lifeboat, peach fuzz, greenbelt, Lake Union, Seattle, skinhead, scullery maid, animal ears, black helicopters, Puget Sound, Crown Hill Cemetery

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Response to The Future of Books for Publishers and Booksellers

Richard Nash at Soft Skull was nice enough to post my response to a a speech called “The Future of Books for Publishers and Booksellers” by Mike Shatzkin that he’d linked to on his blog. I had wanted to post a comment in response (but the technology of comments for blogs is confusing which is one of the many reasons that hosted blogs such as Blogger are such a free and sweet deal.) My own blog runs on Moveable Type on its own server and my brief attempt to run comments here was such a horrible failure (I still have thousands of SPAM posts I’m lugging around) that I turned them off. I didn’t miss them, really, because only two or three people ever commented on my site. Instead more people (and those same people) email me, and posting relevant responses seems more in line with whatever I’m doing here which is mostly a kind of proto-blog anyway. My posts are too long and infrequent. But Soft Skull is interested in getting comments to work on his site. If you know how, maybe you could help him?

I also mention in my response something that Maria Massie, the agent for Lydia Millet and for a while Stephen Dixon, said to me about writers who publish too much. She said they should publish a book every six years or so, (or some time frame like that) so that each book could be an event. I think she was a fine literary agent and did what she could with my own work. And perhaps me for me she was actually telling me something — some writers should publish every six months. Other writers, well, we would all appreciate it if they took a lot longer, like forever. I don’t know. My consistently poor and peevish relationship with literary professionals has led me to believe that it is probably better if I approach the whole enterprise as an amateur effort.

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The Snowball Bush

Matt Briggs SeattleThe snowball bush blooms once a year. I’m never sure when it will bloom. For most of the year the bush sits in the middle of the lawn, a mass of stalks, dead leaves, and long grass in an island that I can’t mow. I would like to keep the entire lawn wild since I am not much of a lawn keeper. But it doesn’t become wild but instead feral. Blackberries briars spring up from the untended hedges. Cherry tree samplings appear near the crumbling limbs of the old tree between the house and the street. Succulent vines with sticky leaves and round leaves a lime color, a weedy green, grow up the edge of the fence. Instead, I keep the dandelions mowed. I keep the packets of weeds corralled in circles under the snowball bush, the misguided cinder brick planter someone used to hide the stumps in the middle of the yard. When we first moved into the house, there was a Michelangelo Venus standing on one of the old fir stumps. And the snowball bush was in bloom. In the first load of trash I hauled away the statue and threw her into the pit at the transfer station. A man drove a huge, house sized tractor from one edge of the pit to other crushing everything: old chest of drawers, elaborate wooden filing cabinets, bags of weeds, and Venus. When I returned home, the snowball as still in bloom seemed to lit the yard in the reflective light in the dusk. When in bloom even at a night, I can see by the reflective light of the bush. And then after a week of huge shapeless flowers they turn brown and scatter and the bush is a dark lump. I contemplate then pulling it out and turning that portion of the yard into an easy to mow slip of grass and dandelions. I haven’t done it yet because every spring when I think about pulling up the bush, I can’t remember when it will bloom and I wait until it blooms and by the time it does in late May, by the time the memory of the bloom fades, the yard is hot and yellow with the summer and pulling anything living out of the ground seems foolish.

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