Topos Press Pamphlets are here
The first pamphlet in the Topos Press Pamphlets Series, Lucy Ives’s “Sodom, LLC,” is finally available for sale at Topos and at www.topospress.com. Funny how the littlest things can take forever to finish (maybe funny’s not the right word—sorry it took me so long, Lucy!). I first reached out to Lucy about an essay for the series in 2020 when I was living in Canaan, NY. Anny and I were looking for projects to keep us alive/connected to reality during lockdown, and I thought the pamphlets could be that—a way to connect with friends and circulate their ideas via mailable booklets. I was grateful that Lucy had an idea for the series and excited about the essay she chose to send in.
“Sodom, LLC” has a lot of what I love about Lucy’s writing. Droll, macabre, and visionary, it has her disarming combination of sincerity and irony that can make the ideas feel both intuitively right and totally strange all the way down. Another of the essay’s virtues: it supplies enough background that extensive reading of Sade is not a prerequisite for enjoyment. In that respect, “Sodom, LLC” is an ideal first essay for the series, modeling what I hope the pamphlets will do: Introduce the Topos reading community to challenging, maybe esoteric ideas about literature on friendly and inviting terms. As much as possible, I hope that these challenging ideas will come from within the Topos reading community (Lucy is a wearer of the Topos cap). We all have a lot to learn from each other.
Part of what took forever was figuring out how to produce the pamphlets. Our goals were to pay our authors (that’s an always/must), keep the price down, and break even on materials. We were printerless in Canaan and the outlook was bleak. The project picked up steam again early this year after Emily Costantino of TQR moved her Risograph printer into the Topos Press studio. She gave me a tutorial and then I spent about six months designing, printing, and assembling the booklet on spare evenings. I wanted the design to be reminiscent of a 1980s University Press title—you know, a generic pattern produced via computer graphics by a non-designer. Lucy supplied the idea of incorporating the Excel logo, which seems more brilliant to me every day (this morning I was reflecting on how the word ”cell” traverses its spreadsheet and prison contexts).
The Topos Press Pamphlets will be for sale online with a greater number at Topos. I have written at topospress.com that the pamphlets are “Ideal M-train reading”—available at the register at Topos—too cheap not to pick up with coffee—perfect to mull over en route to work or wherever.
I have more fun stuff planned for the series, and going forward, I hope to be keep things more on schedule. In an ideal, beautiful, perfect world, a world where I was not a layabout, we would publish four per year.