Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
Here’s what the Nouvella staff was reading (when we weren’t reading submissions!):
I don’t read nearly as much as I wish I did (writing a senior thesis is time consuming, who knew?) so I read most of these in erratic spurts throughout the year. Still, I think the fact that I finished them at all is a testament to their quality.
Dear Life by Alice Munro
It would have been blasphemy not to read Ms. Munro’s work this year, given her status as the 2013 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Dear Life centers on the fleeting moments that irrevocably change Munro’s characters’ lives, whether they be as dramatic as a spontaneous affair, or as minor as the pursuit of a specialist doctor in an unknown town. Each of her stories builds to a meticulous climax that leaves a sort of numbing, troubled reverie.
My First Summer in the Sierras by John Muir
Long before his activist fame, John Muir was a young Scottish immigrant paid to shepherd sheep through the Sierra Nevada foothills. Muir’s lush, even anthropomorphic descriptions of California’s flora and fauna make this short work surprisingly endearing and paint a vivid picture of California in the not-so-distant past.
Too Far to Go: The Maples Stories by John Updike
This collection of short stories should be depressing, seeing how it details the failing marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Maple. Somehow, though, this simply isn’t the case. Written over the course of 20 years, “Too Far to Go” is a masterwork that tidily, and hilariously, demonstrates Updike’s powers of empathy and snide observation. Though the doom of the Maples’ marriage is foreshadowed even from the beginning of the collection, the characters’ paradoxical love for one another develops and evolves until the book’s poignant ending.
Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote
Best read in Capote’s native New Orleans with a beignet in hand, “Music for Chameleons” remains a giant in the canon of short story writings. Capote can rarely escape a review without being deemed “lyrical” – but with good reason. The author’s wit and graceful use of language keep his personality-based stories feeling as vibrant as they did more than 30 years ago.
2013 was a fabulous year for fiction, and I read several books that won’t leave me anytime soon: Shani Boianjiu’s The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, an astonishing debut novel about three girls coming of age in the midst of ancient conflict, left me breaking out in goosebumps on overheated subway cars and pressing it onto anyone I came in contact with with missionary zeal. Another amazing debut work was NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, which I fasted for a day to read because I couldn’t put it down to make hot food. Established favorite authors also came out swinging: Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland and Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah both delighted me as much as I’d hoped they would, and Rebecca Lee’s Bobcat and Other Stories brought a Munro-like heft back to the short story form.
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. Reading this reminded me of the way I felt when I read The Bell Jar for the first time—a sort of possessive kinship that you feel (unreasonably) protective of. The novel is filled with this recklessness, a disregard that shape-shifts into loneliness, that betrays the characters in an instant. It is imaginative and expansive, and the main character, Reno, is a badass. And there are passages like this:
“Sandro said he couldn’t understand how his mother tolerated this ridiculous man in any capacity. I understood that she did tolerate him, and even why. She was lonely, and his ridiculousness was a form of vitality. It brought something to her life. In any case, men were that way, but I couldn’t tell Sandro that men were ridiculous, and since his mother was not a lesbian they were her only option.”
All That Is by James Salter. Here’s something I’ve noticed about James Salter novels: It’s very difficult to summarize most of them without making them sound very boring. It could very well be the summarizer and not the book, but when someone asked me what All That Is is about, it came out something like, “It’s about this man’s life. And love. And loss.” In the most literal sense of the phrase, I suppose James Salter leaves me a little speechless. I’d read somewhere that Richard Ford had to repeatedly put the book down after finishing a chapter and pace the room. I wish I’d known about this pacing tactic before I read it, because after certain passages, instead of pacing I would just sit there with the book resting against my chest, staring blankly at the ceiling. Pacing seems like a necessary activity for the blows Salter’s writing delivers again and again.
Enon by Paul Harding
Paul Harding’s 2009 debut novel Tinkers immediately became my favorite book when I read it a couple of years ago, so I was champing at the bit to dive into his second novel Enon when it was released this past September. While the somberness and relative darkness of Tinkers left me feeling calm and at peace, probably from the power of its spare prose alone, Enon left me feeling unsettled. The novel follows Charlie Crosby in the aftermath of the death of his 13-year-old daughter and the subsequent failure of his marriage. Observing Charlie as he sinks lower and lower and not being able to help him is painful. And while the novel ultimately decides to take it easy on the reader towards the end, it does not offer redemption. Enon was perhaps best summed up by Mr. Harding himself at a reading I had the pleasure to attend when he said – and I’m paraphrasing here – everyone thinks that tragedy and sorrow follows a predictable plotline where everything turns out fine in the end, and that’s not always the case.
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
We’re in the business of publishing novellas so it’s only natural that one of my favorite books in recent history is a novella. Having first read Denis Johnson’s novel Tree of Smoke a few years back, which was impressive but long and psychologically taxing, I was hesitant to pick up Train Dreams – albeit a much shorter book – for fear of putting myself under the same mental strain. I was happy to discover though that Train Dreams is unlike Tree of Smoke in terms of complexity. The novella dreamily, but succinctly, follows Robert Grainier throughout his mostly lonesome life in Idaho during the first half of the 20th century. The big landscapes, wilderness, wildness and simplicity of life that can be found in the American West have always spoken to me and Train Dreams taps directly into that.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
I’m hesitant to write about David Foster Wallace. His presence in the general population’s consciousness has skyrocketed over the past few years – what hasn’t already been said about him or his writing? But, alas, I’ve never read a book as long as Infinite Jest so I might as well weigh in based solely on my pride in my accomplishment. I thought Infinite Jest was a thoroughly enjoyable read that takes place primarily in two locations: a children’s tennis academy and an alcohol/drug recovery house. While page upon page of prose without a single paragraph break does not cater to my short attention span, I found the book to be highly readable as it drew me into its flow. Foster Wallace has a way of intertwining his virtuosic stream-of-consciousness episodes with emotional punches that hit you directly in the heart. Whether Infinite Jest is a literary masterpiece or not, I will leave up to others to debate, but I do know that the chapter in which the friendly tennis game of Eschaton (look it up) melts down into slapstick chaos is the funniest thing I’ve ever read.
Monday, December 16th, 2013
All this talk about the novella form and where it’s going. Here’s how we’re handling it: The last two years, we’ve seen a thoroughly encouraging reception of our authors and their books that fall in this no-man’s-land of publishing. It’s been a terrific platform to introduce emerging writers to readers, and we can hardly wait to publish the novellas by up-and-comers that we’ve got in store.
It’s still the case, though, that it (almost) doesn’t matter who you are when it comes to getting a novella out there: for most publishers, novellas are about as welcome as a mouse infestation. Now we, on the other hand, think mice can be pretty cute, but more importantly, we think novellas are an important form. Essential, in fact. So as of 2014, in addition to publishing novellas by emerging authors through our Launch series, we will be expanding with our Enfant Terrible series to novellas by more established authors. We’re thrilled to announce that Elizabeth Kadetsky will be leading off the series with her novella On an Island at the Center of the Center of the World in the spring of 2014. For more information, the official press release follows:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Chris Czarnecki
INDEPENDENT PRESS NOUVELLA TO PUBLISH
NOVELLA-LENGTH FICTION BY ESTABLISHED AUTHORS
Los Angeles, Calif.—After two years of publishing critically-acclaimed novellas by emerging authors, independent publisher Nouvella will be expanding to publish novellas by established authors. The new series, Enfant Terrible, will consist of unruly, innovative, novella-length works of fiction by authors that have already seen success with more traditional forms such as the novel or short story.
“There is a void to be filled when it comes to novellas in the marketplace,” says Deena Drewis, founding editor of Nouvella. “Novellas have proven to be an excellent genre for raising awareness around emerging authors. But it’s still the case that established authors have a hard time finding venues that will even consider a 30,000-word manuscript, much less publish it as a stand-alone book—even in the wake of novels or short story collections that have done well with big houses.”
In keeping with its reputation, Nouvella will publish each Enfant Terrible novella as a 4 x 6-inch well-designed, collectible book. These pocket-sized books emphasize the form’s accessible length and can be taken anywhere. Each title will also be released as an e-book.
The first novella in the Enfant Terrible series will be On an Island at the Center of the Center of the World by Elizabeth Kadetsky, slated for release in early spring 2014. Kadetsky’s memoir, First There is Mountain, was released from Little, Brown in 2004. Her short stories have been chosen for a Pushcart Prize, Best New American Voices, and Best American Short Stories notable stories, and her personal essays have appeared in the New York Times, Guernica, Santa Monica Review, Antioch Review, Post Road, Agni, and elsewhere.
Nouvella was founded in 2011 by Deena Drewis, the former senior editor of Flatmancrooked Publishing. A boutique publishing house currently based in Los Angeles, California, Nouvella was established with the aim of publishing novellas—a form long ostracized for it’s not-quite-a-novel length, despite evidence over the years that it is an essential form for fiction (e.g. Of Mice and Men, Heart of Darkness, Brokeback Mountain, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Awakening, The Dead.) The press is run by Drewis and associate editor Emma Bushnell, along with a small editorial and design staff.
Nouvella’s publishing model is an innovative reflection of the evolving demands of print and digital media. Each pocket-sized book is designed with an emphasis on both literary and visual aesthetics—they are lightweight, meant to be read on-the-go and look great on a bookshelf.
Authors of the Launch series books have gone on to sign major publishing deals with houses such as Little Brown, St. Martin’s Press and Riverhead, and to receive awards and accolades such as the National Jewish Book Award for Outstanding Debut Fiction and an Amazon Best Book of December.
Nouvella will expand upon its successful Launch series with the Enfant Terrible series in an effort to bring greater awareness to the novella and to provide a publishing venue for manuscripts of this essential form. Manuscripts may be submitted via http://nouvella.submittable.com. Agent queries may be sent to email@example.com.
More information is available online at. www.nouvella.com.
Sunday, September 22nd, 2013
Nouvella is an independent publisher dedicated to novellas by emerging authors. The press utilizes the LAUNCH program, wherein the reading community can invest in the career of an emerging author by purchasing a “share” in the author during a designated one-week period. For every share purchased, the patron will receive a limited edition, hand-signed copy of the novella, a letter from the author, and an e-book version.
The books are small, designed to fit in your back pocket or your purse, to take with you wherever you go. Two hundred “share” packages are available during the author’s LAUNCH week; after the week is over, the book will be available for its list price on the site. It will also be available via Small Press Distribution and various booksellers.
Our authors have gone on to sell books to Riverhead and Little, Brown, and our novellas have been featured as the Amazon Best Books of December Debut Spotlight and have been awarded the National Jewish Book Award for Outstanding Debut Fiction.
Nouvella is looking for an unpaid, part-time Public Relations Intern to assist with traditional and new media during book launches. The position will last six months, for 5-10 hours a week, and has the opportunity to extend. This is a telecommuting position, though preference will be given to candidates in the Los Angeles area that have the ability to meet with staff members periodically.
We are looking primarily for college students majoring in publicity and marketing, but if you are a college grad and couldn’t be more perfect for the job, we want to hear from you too!
- Draft press releases
- Liaise with press and bloggers to coordinate author interviews and reviews
- Participate in marketing strategy meetings and campaign implementation unique to each launch
- Other marketing assistance as needed
Basically, we’re looking for someone smart, reliable, passionate, and good at what they do—someone who can bring fresh ideas to the table and who is constantly engaged with the literary community. Bonus points for those that are eager to talk about what they’re currently reading (and sometimes baseball) in our weekly staff emails.
How to Apply
If this sounds good to you, please send a resume and one-paragraph cover letter in the body of your email to editors (at) nouvellabooks.com with the subject line “PR INTERN.” We look forward to hearing from you!
Friday, April 19th, 2013
…editorially speaking. Nouvella has recently added a couple of super sharp editorial assistants to our masthead. Without further ado, Eve Gleichman and Melissa MacEwen. (And Emma and I did the questionnaire too, because we didn’t want to feel left out.)
Last thing I read that was so good, not only did it knock my socks off, it stole them forever: Tenth of December by George Saunders
Currently reading: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Favorite novella: Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
Favorite libation: Earl Grey
If someone absolutely forced me to recite some poetry, I would recite: From the desk of Derek Walcott: ”I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones/The black rain, the white hills, when once/I loved only my happiness and you.”
Last thing I read that was so good, not only did it knock my socks off, it stole them forever: Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion. I read this in California during the summertime; I will never forget commuting an hour and a half on the train to my internship every day and daydreaming about the Santa Ana wind. My senior thesis will be partially inspired by this book, that’s how much I loved it.
Currently reading: McSweeney’s 42; Underworld by Don DeLillo. About to start The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis.
Favorite novella: I honestly haven’t read very many novellas; I’ve been meaning to read The Eye by Vladimir Nabokov for a while now.
Favorite libation: Red wine. Yes, I’m a snob.
If someone absolutely forced me to recite some poetry, I would recite: “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe (my grandfather and I are both obsessed and we’ve both memorized extensive portions of it).
Last thing I read that was so good, not only did it knock my socks off, it stole them forever: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. Every time I picked up my copy I was excited to dive back into the turbulent lives of my new friends. The novel unfolds more like life than a story with a beginning, middle, and end does. It follows five friends from their meeting as teens at an idyllic arts camp in the Berkshires as they grow from their ironic adolescent selves through all the stages of adulthood into their late fifties. Wolitzer masterfully guides her characters on their own individual paths as they discover what comes of early talent and how relationships evolve with age and circumstance. It’s one of those fat books that still isn’t fat enough; you want to keep continuing and continuing so these characters can enjoy longer lives than the ones Wolitzer has given them on the page.
Currently reading: Mrs. Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light. Nonfiction is rare for me, but what’s a Virginia Woolf die-hard to do when she reads this essay on The Millions?
Favorite novella: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. My favorite novella, though it takes as long to read as a novel because of the sentences as dense and rich as a Burdick’s hot chocolate.
Favorite libation: Now I’m tempted to say Burdick’s, but that’s no fun. I will never say no to a nice basil gimlet.
If someone absolutely forced me to recite some poetry, I would recite: I am known to get through the third stanza of Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” no matter the interest level of my gimleted comrades-in-arms.
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Currently reading: All That Is by James Salter. It’s very Salter-y.
Favorite novella: We Don’t Live Here Anymore by Andre Dubus. I did my full profession of awe for Novella Month last year. Also: Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx.
Favorite libation: A greyhound. I also love champagne, especially celebratory and/or free champagne, which is very different than cheap champagne.
If someone absolutely forced me to recite some poetry, I would recite: “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, though I don’t think I’d get much further than “I met a traveler from an antique land.” After that, I’d have to resort to some Shel Silverstein.
Friday, February 8th, 2013
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and we are here to help woo your smarty-sweetheart. Or else creep out your smarty would-be sweetheart. Either way, these Valentines are the perfect thing to share with that bookish someone.
Have a better line? We want to hear it. Submit your best literary come-hither on Twitter using #LiteraryComeOns; the three best entries (picked by the Nouvella staff, as we enjoy V-day with our cats) submitted by Wednesday, February 13th will join our series of cards, and the winners get a free book (or tote bag) of their choice from our store.
Sunday, November 18th, 2012
And so we find ourselves at the end of another launch!—Well, okay, this is coming about a week late, but we were busy on the road for release parties in LA and NYC this past week. A big huge thank you to all who participated in the launch and came to the release events.
If you didn’t get a launch package, regular copies are officially for sale in our store. It’s also available through our distributor, SPD, which is where you’ll want to head if you’re a bookseller. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes are all carrying the e-book (and addition to us, of course, and we’ll love you the most if you buy direct). Amazon will be carrying hard copies soon, but apparently they were having issues last week, so stay tuned if that’s your venue of preference.
Lastly, the holidays are very suddenly upon us. We’ve got some neat stuff planned for holiday sales, so check back in for some Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals (by the way, does anyone else hate the word “cyber” as much as I do?).
Oh, and next on the launch pad? Derek Palacio with How to Shake the Other Man launching in late winter 2013. Start your search engines, friends. It’s going to knock your stockings off.
Thanks, as always, for being bookish and supporting our endeavors here. Happy cookie season!
Sunday, July 1st, 2012
So summer is here, which indicates the arrival of any number of liberating things, but chief among them is what we book-ish types refer to as “summer reading” (which, in my opinion, means nothing other than you get to read whatever you want.) Last month, in honor of Novella Month, we compiled a list of recommended novellas via Twitter, so if you’re looking to bolster your summer reading with some medium-sized fiction, the list is here. Thanks to all who participated; we had a terrific time discovering all the novellas we didn’t know about, and we’ll be announcing the three winners of Nouvella subscriptions shortly, so stay tuned.
In other news, while we’ve mentioned it here and there over the last few months, we’re thrilled to officially announce our next title: A Familiar Beast by Panio Gianopoulus. Our second novella of 2012 will be coming your way mid-September, so check back with us soon for more details. In the meantime, you can follow @panio on Twitter, where he keeps a Game of Thrones-centric feed (which is really the best kind of feed.)
And speaking of new things: there are changes afoot at Nouvella! We’re pleased to announce that we are now officially distributed by Small Press Distribution, which means easier access for bookstores and for the general reading public. Initially, for our first two releases, physical copies were only available here during launch week and later, at a select bookstores, but we realized that a good number of readers who found out about the release post-launch were having a heck of a time tracking down a physical copy. Which made us sad. So from here on out, launch week will work a little differently: “share” packages will be limited to 300, and for a set price, each investor will receive a signed and numbered 1st edition copy of the book, a handwritten thank-you note from the author, and an e-book. After the launch week is over, copies of the novella will be available for their list price through the site, through the SPD website, and through various booksellers. More books = more reading = more happiness. (So if you didn’t get a copy way back when, The Last Repatriate and The Sensualist can be secured through the SPD site now; booksellers, check out the booksellers tab for store discounts.)
Lastly, in case you are somehow follow us on Twitter and don’t follow Electric Literature (I think there are maybe…3 of you), we’re pleased as pie to announce that we are a partner for their new venture Recommended Reading. It’s a terrific, community-curated project that aims to deliver one incredible story to the literary masses once a week. They’re about a month and a half in, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, you’ve got a healthy archive to look through already. What this means for us is that we’ll be excerpting novellas in Recommended Reading before they’re released. It’s what the French might call “super chouette.”
Other than that, we hope you all have the loveliest summer and that it’s not too sweaty (unless you’d like it to be.) We’ll be rolling out more on A Familiar Beast before you know it, so keep your antennae turned our way.
Monday, February 27th, 2012
AWP has arrived, as it inevitably does, and off we go to fulfill all those drinks-at-AWP promises. We don’t have a table this year, but a bunch of lovely presses and publications will be hosting copies of Matthew Salesses’ The Last Repatriate. You can find them at:
American Short Fiction
You can also send us an e-mail or a Tweeter and we can set up a special drop off, like we’re doing something illegal. Matt will also be manning the FRINGE booth on Friday from 3 pm-4pm, so go on and get your book signed.
For those of you that are curious about our next book, you can sneak a peek at Daniel Torday at least twice:
Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m Daniel will be on the following panel:
R115. A Room with a Review: The Art of Literary Criticism
(Andrew Ciotola, Mindy Kronenberg, Daniel Torday, Scott Parker, Christina Thompson)
Wiliford A, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Literary journal editors discuss the ethics, mechanics, and value of reviewing.
He’ll also be reading on Friday at 5:00 p.m. at the
Syracuse MFA alumn reading, GRAIN OF SALT.
Center for Book and Paper Arts
Columbia College Chicago
1104 S. Wabash, 2nd fl.
Come and acquaint yourself with the work of our next author. See him in his natural habitat. Get excited for The Sensualist.
Safe travels, friends. We’ll see you soon.
Saturday, January 7th, 2012
Happy New Year, Nouvellaers. Twenty-twelve has arrived and so far our year has set out skipping. First case in point: we are absolutely thrilled to announce the release of our next novella, The Sensualist by Daniel Torday. We don’t want to divulge too much too soon, but we’re busy behind the scenes right this very instant, getting ready for a mid-March release. In the meantime, read up on this Dan fellow (web hint: Five Chapters and 52 Stories). You’re going to want to get in on the ground floor on this one, believe you me. Stay tuned for more details.
And now for a bit of news from the Flatmancrooked vault: In celebration of selling out of the second edition of Edan Lepucki’s If You’re Not Yet Like Me, we are offering the very last of the first-edition copies (we came into a few extra copies after a shipping mishap during the October 2009 launch.) Head over here for more details and to get one of the 15 remaining signed copies.
Lastly, I wanted to reiterate my thanks for all the support this last year. The release of our first Nouvella title, Matthew Salesses‘ The Last Repatriate, went terrifically. Some great write-ups have gone up at The Stage and at Ethel Rohan‘s blog, and it appeared on “best of” lists at Big Other and NANO Fiction. If you’re still itching to see Matt read and/or pick up an illusive hard copy, you’re in luck: he’ll be reading at Brookline Booksmith on Wednesday, January 18th at 7pm, along with Elizabeth Searle, author of Girl Held in Home. The following week, on January 23rd, he’ll be at “the sexiest reading series in Cambridge” at Literary Firsts, 7pm, Middlesex Lounge. Precisely one month later Matt will be doing the Writers Series with Margot Livesey at Salem State University (that’s February 23rd, 7:30pm). And finally, the web’s coolest fiction contest (so says I): “My Protagonist is Matt Salesses.” It’s essentially exactly what it sounds like, and it’ll be judged by Matt Bell (How They Were Found), Laura van den Berg (What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us) and Steve Himmer (The Bee-Loud Glade). The winner will be announced at/around AWP, and prizes include various books.
Thanks for checking in. As always, more exciting news soon.
Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
Nouvella is looking for a social media and public relations intern. The ideal candidate will be an avid and engaging Twitterer and Facebooker. She or he will also have strong composition skills and the ability to write knock-’em-down-drag-’em-out press releases. Familiarity with the literature and publishing industry is a big plus. Internships are unpaid and last for four months with the option to extend. Expected workload is anywhere from 4-10 hours a week, depending on where we are in terms of releasing a book. Please e-mail a CV or resume to the editors along with a brief explanation of why you are interested in and qualified for the position.
-Your name on the masthead!
-Weekly, mostly morale-boosting e-mails from the editors
-Drinks, if we ever meet face to face
-A killer letter of recommendation reflecting your killer work ethic
Thanks in advance to all applicants; we look forward to hearing from you.