Printers Row Lit Fest this weekend marks the halfway point of our year. Come by our table at Book Fort this weekend, and hear us gush about what's up next. Be sure to spend the next couple months depleting your summer reading pile to make plenty of room for Chicago's next wave of incredible stories & voices.
Patrick Wensink's Fake Fruit Factory, due out this September. It's a stick-slapping, gut-punching comedic novel about the eccentric small town of Dyson, Ohio. When NASA determines an errant satellite will crash there, the town's young mayor uses the ensuing media circus to attract tourism and save his bankrupt rust belt community. Unless, of course, the satellite completely wipes it from the map. Featuring a motley cast of characters who are the heart of “America’s Boringest City,” Fake Fruit Factory hilariously captures the peculiarities of small town life through the story of a wacky community finding its place in contemporary America.
In October, we're publishing Vanessa Blakeslee's debut novel, Juventud. While praise for her short story collection Train Shots abounds, we're expecting just as much excitement for this searing novel: The only daughter of a wealthy landowner in Santiago de Cali, Colombia, teenaged Mercedes Martinez knows a world of maids, armed guards, and private drivers. When she falls in love with Manuel, a fiery young activist with a passion for his faith and his country, she begins to understand the suffering of the desplazados who share her land. Tragedy strikes in a single violent night, and Mercedes flees Colombia for the United States and a life she never could have imagined. Juventud explores the idealism of youth, the complexities of a ravaged country, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.
November brings about two works exploring sound & the ever-present voice—
In teeming detail, Dave Reidy's The Voiceover Artist explores brotherhood and family: Since his youth, Simon Davies has suffered from a crippling stutter inherited from his father. Overshadowed by his charming younger brother, Connor, Simon doesn't speak for eighteen years, but harbors a secret dream to become a famous voiceover artist. Once Simon finds his voice, he must learn to live alongside Connor, or continue to suffer silently on his own.
Later that month, we're pleased to present My Kind of Sound: The Secret History of Chicago Music from Plastic Crimewave's Steve Krakow & edited by JC Gabel. Featuring a foreword by Roger "Jim" McGuinn of The Byrds and an afterword by Jim DeRogatis of Sound Opinions, this collection is culled from over ten years of weekly Chicago Reader columns. My Kind of Sound will be "The Secret History of Chicago Music" compendium.
The new year welcomes Dark House Press's latest effort, Paper Tigers, a novel by Damien Angelica Walters; sinister and dark, like you've come to expect from Curbside's neo-noir imprint. At its heart, Paper Tigers is a ghost story about a disfigured young woman and a photo album that isn't what it seems. A haunting, touching, and hypnotizing novel, this haunted house and its residents will lure you in, and never let go.
Our first, full-color graphic novel is due out this February. From the minds of Chicago's Illustrated Press, Kedzie Avenue: Stories Drawn from a City Street offers a look at everyday life on a single street in twenty-first century Chicago. Drawing on a year's worth of reporting and interviews with a wide range of Chicagoans, the book weaves personal narrative, journalistic reportage, and frame-by-frame illustration into a complex portrait of an American city.
Rounding out our catalog is one of our most expansive projects yet—a collection of stories, posters, and ephemera contributed by the community of fans, former bartenders, bouncers, and performers, retelling the eclectic history of one of Chicago's landmark music venues: The Empty Bottle. The Empty Bottle Chicago: Twenty-Plus Years of Piss, Sh*t, & Broken Urinals is edited by John E. Dugan, featuring a foreword by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.
"With its plain brick facade and Old Style sign hanging out front, the 20-year-old Empty Bottle looks more like a plain Chicago townie bar than the city's most consistent punk-and-indie-rock club – not to mention the free jazz, skronky pop and other out-there genres it books. Chicago promoter Andy Cirzan calls the 400-capacity club "a kind of communal space for adventurous musicians and their fans." —Rolling Stone, "The Best Clubs in America"