karen lillis

The xerox machine: printing press of the people

Karen Lillis is currently serializing a memoir about working at St. Mark’s Bookshop called Bagging The Beats At Midnight: Confessions of an Indie Bookstore Clerk over at Undie Press. Her recent installment, titled “People Who Led Me to Self-Publishing,” discusses the inspiring and energetic figures she encountered, people who took artistic matters into their own hands by making sloppy, lo-fi xeroxed booklets that were sold on a special consignment rack at St. Mark’s. Karen reminds us that writers such as Anais Nin, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Kathy Acker, Gertrude Stein, and others all self-published at one point. There’s a certain magic about it—the immediacy of it, the openness, the way any wing nut or fanatic or obsessive outsider can be given an equal hearing on the consignment rack. No filtration or editorial process—just print, copy, distribute.

In a recent email I sent to Al Burian, I wrote that I was interested in bridging the gap between the small press/indie publishing world and the self-publishing/zine world. Al is kind of a cult figure in the self-publishing world, but is probably virtually unknown to small press and indie lit readers (although he did get some kind of honorable mention in The Best American Nonrequired Reading series one year). I’ve been reading his zines since I was 13 and I’m still totally obsessed with them. Since Al Burian was my favorite zine writer, over the years I let everyone I knew borrow his writings—teachers, friends, family. Some instantly became obsessive fans of his work as well. Since last month Al’s out-of-print collection of early zines, titled Burn Collector, is finally back in print after being republished by PM Press. (You should check it out—I’ve probably read it more times than any other book in my life.) Al’s zine Burn Collector and others like his inspired me to start self-publishing when I was 15.


Craft Notes & Random & Technology / 26 Comments
December 15th, 2010 / 11:29 pm

Some Neat

David NeSmith has epublished a new haiku thing, from his El Greed comics. He’s taking comics and haiku off the page. He’s putting wardrobes on the page. I don’t know, you figure it out.

It’s been up for a bit, but Maureen Thorson’s review of Tan Lin’s Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking (Airport Novel Musical Poem Painting Film Photo Hallucination Landscape) is so good that I read it and immediately bought the book. Now the book has arrived, and I’m trying to like it as much as I like the review. It’s ambitious in its extratextuality. Its beautiful in its conception. But its wtf in its words. I don’t know, you figure it out.

Gee whiz, here’s an exhaustingive Bookslut interview with Dorothea Lasky.

Karen Lillis on working at St. Marks Bookshop.

Don’t forget: Telephone Journal giveaway ends tomorrow. Leave a comment, win a book.

Roundup / 9 Comments
September 16th, 2010 / 11:29 am