S P I N E L E S S  B O O K S

From the Editors’ Skulls

The Editor's Skull.

As I write this, the founder of Spineless Books is sleeping in my living room. He’s exhausted after driving 13 hours straight in a ridiculously overloaded car. Spineless Books is leaving Providence and a small Toyota has become a mobile box crammed with computers, CDs, books, disc golf discs, clothing, cassettes, food and remnants of food, empty coffee cups, and a driver escaping Ivy League New England.

I’ve been seeing a lot of William lately. Which is a good thing. I like to see William as often as possible, even if he’s just passing through and using Chateau Strattonius as a cheap flophouse. A couple of weeks ago, William appeared in an SUV that was carrying boxes of the latest Spineless Books publication, Fourier Series, by Josh Corey, the first winner of the Fitzpatrick-O’Dinn contest. There was also a large stack of book covers printed on thick, luxurious paper. Our mission was to cut the covers to size, fold them, then wrap them around the books.

Fourier Series.

Fourier Series

(To understand how this turned out to be a fairly complicated thing to do, you’ll just have to buy a copy of Fourier Series.) To help us with this task, Lorien Carsey (the Official Muse of Spineless Books) also drove to Cincinnati. After William figured out exactly what steps needed to be taken to transform the huge pile of potential book covers into actual book covers covering books, we set to work. You had your choice of three separate tasks, though each was mind-numbingly tedious, repetitive, carpal-tunnel-syndrome-inducing, and just plain boring. My criminal deficit in the music reproduction department (i.e. no working CD player with actual speakers) made things even more difficult, particularly for William and Lorien. It took us the better part of three days to finish all 400 copies, taking several desperately needed disc golf breaks to revive our assembly-line bludgeoned spirits.

Fourier Series wrecking crew.

Day 1

Though I groused and complained freely throughout the experience, I was actually elated, for a couple of reasons. First, it was a concrete example of the Art/Life Ratio I championed in my last Editor’s Skull rant. Art was happening in my apartment, all day long. For some, the dominant art form, the form all other arts aspire to, is music. For me, it’s sculpture. Preparing book covers for Fourier Series was a very sculptural experience. There was the huge pile of uncut and unfolded book covers that sat on the floor, taunting us and daunting us. Dealing with that pile was like facing a huge lump of granite and slowly whittling away everything that wasn’t part of the finished sculpture. The cutting and the folding also suggested sculptural activities. As the pile of unmanipulated covers shrank, piles of jacketed books grew. William, Lorien and I were building an edifice of completed books. That this sculpting was the final step for Fourier Series was most appropriate given that one of the book’s primary approaches is spatial (get your copy today to see what I mean). All and all, a most satisfying experience.

Day 3

The second reason I was elated was because this was a milestone event in the maturation of Spineless Books as a publisher. Let’s face it: there are those out there who would dismiss Spineless (or any other small press) ( i.e., “They’re not a “real” press; they just publish themselves and their friends.”). [This is true but only because we strive to make friends with people we publish—I didn't meet Mike Maguire until a year after Drawn Inward was published, when we taught our palindrome writing workshop at the Kelly Writers House at Penn.—Ed2]

So with the publishing of Fourier Series, Spineless Books provides the first evidence that it is a publisher “just like” other “legitimate” publishers. In other words, before Corey’s manuscript was chosen as the winner of the Fitzpatrick-O’Dinn Award For Best Book Length Work Of Constrained English Literature, no one in the Spineless universe knew who the hell he was or what he wrote. In essence, we discovered Josh, just as he discovered us, and strangers came together to jointly produce an artistic enterprise.

Fourier Series Triumpherate.

Christian Bök, Joshua Corey, William

I realize I am biased, but I believe we have produced a wonderful book. Check it out and tell me otherwise, if you dare.Dirk Stratton





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