5 New Small Press Books I Can’t Wait to Read

by Treehouse Editors

Johannes Lichtman

Spring is shaping up to be an awesome season for small press books. Here are five (or, four, plus one big press book) that I’m dying to crack open.

(In order of release date)

  1. Amsterdam Stories by Nescio (NYRB Classics). I’m always excited for the chance to say “I read a foreign book!” It happens pretty rarely, because I’m lazy, but when the author is an early twentieth century Dutch businessman who wrote prose under a pseudonym that means “I don’t know” in Latin, well, then I’m game.
  2. Fires of Our Choosing by Eugene Cross (Dzanc). I’ve been pretty pumped about this one ever since Cross published “Rosaleen, If You Know What I Mean” in American Short Fiction. Like much of Cross’ fiction, it’s a brutal and surprising story that unfolds naturally, without the artificial first sentence hook that is the hallmark of so much contemporary short fiction. Add in the fact that the collection comes from Dzanc—the awesome home of The Collagist—and there’s a great chance of this book kicking ass.
  3. When All the World Is Old by John Rybicki (Lookout). I see the phrase “will break your heart” on the cover of too many books that only end up breaking my heart from the knowledge that I wasted 16 bucks. But trust me—this book will break your heart in the best possible way. Rybicki writes about his dying wife scrawling love notes to him on the shower door; after she died, the fog from his breath would make them reappear.
  4. Cataclysm Baby by Matt Bell (Mud Luscious). I first heard of Bell’s novella through word of mouth—as is so often the case with this champion of the indie world—and I thought the book was called, “Cataclysm, Baby.” The comma might have changed the meaning from intriguingly ominous book title to kickass song lyric, but, alas, it was not be. Regardless, Kyle Minor called this crazy-original book: “An apocalyptic abecedarium that is one part baby name registry, one part S. Thompson’s Index of Folk-Motifs, one part Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.” So what more do you need?
  5. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (Ecco). This book isn’t from a small press, but if you’ve read Ben Fountain’s first collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara—a set of exquisite novels hidden in the shells of short stories—you’ll know why I wanted to break the rules for it. I heard Fountain read an excerpt from a draft of the novel two and a half years ago, and I still remember his description of the beached whaleness of Texas Stadium.