Publisher: Atticus Books
Location: Darnestown, MD
Founded: March 2010 (according to Facebook) by Dan Cafaro
Distributor: BookMobile (Itasca Books)
Notable Authors/Works: The Snow Whale by John Minichillo; The Bee-Loud Glade by Steve Himmer; Kino by Jürgen Fauth
Kindle/E-reader available: Yes. Some of their work is only electronic (such as Steve Himmer’s The Second Most Dangerous Job in America)
Publishes Periodicals/Quarterlies: Weekly publication of Atticus Review
General Information: Oh, Atticus Books. You’re weird and wonderful and rather honey-badger-esque. (Honey badger don’t care.) Atticus describes themselves as “fiery”, “offbeat”, and “genre-busting”; they haven’t been on the scene for long, but they’re already creating significant buzz in the reading world. (I think everyone and their mom probably has The Bee-Loud Glade on their reading list, including yours truly).
I didn’t find a lot on the history of Atticus Books, possibly because they’re in still in the process of writing their early history. I’ll skip the background and head straight to what I like about this small press.
As a press, Atticus Books has attitude off the charts. At times, reading through the “about” sections might make one flinch a bit against the intensity; words are not minced, smoothly professional corporate-speak doesn’t translate there. From the FAQ:
“We’re not here to numb your senses (we’re realistic: we know we can’t compete with alcohol), nor are we here to offer formulaic drivel. We’re here to challenge your senses and make you care about reading and the world at large.”
This no-bullshit swagger serves them well, I think. For me, whether I like a press boils down to one thing: do they make good books? Atticus seems to share my view, striving to cater to the modern literary reader and cutting out as much interference as possible. Pinning down “literary” can be difficult, but Atticus is on the right track: they seek character-driven stories, strong voices, writers “who, if you nicked their skin, they would bleed words.”
I also love their commitment to short fiction, via the Atticus Review and their new line of Atticus Shorts. One of the best intersections between the reading world and the internet has been the ability to distribute short fiction easily, inexpensively, and without having to put together book-length collections; some presses have struggled to incorporate this, but Dan Cafaro is ahead of the curve on this one. I’m really excited to see if more Atticus Shorts pop up (come on, guys–I’d like to buy some more stories, already!).
Atticus Books also has a commitment to reducing their eco-footprint, which I appreciate. Moreover, the goals are tangible, which I doubly appreciate. (Ever see that fake corpro-bullshit that doesn’t really amount to anything? It’s like how free-range chickens don’t have to be let outside as long as the door is open to their pen part of the day.) Some of their goals: reduce greenhouse emissions by 20% by 2016; use 30% recycled paper annually, along with 20% Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper; to eliminate the use of paper from endangered forests.
All that having been said, I do have to confess that their books have been hit-or-miss for your faithful booksluts as far as finding books we love-love-love. Rob and I weren’t wild about Kino (see my review here); Amy has an upcoming review of The Law of Strings that isn’t a 5-star (spoiler alert). I did LOVE The Second Most Dangerous Job in America (an Atticus Short I highly recommend) and, based on the strength of that, I’m really looking forward to reading The Bee-Loud Glade. Despite not being crazy about every book that we read, all of the books got a solid 3+ stars from us; also, I may be one of the few people who didn’t totally love Kino, so your mileage may vary on that one. I’m still intrigued to read what Atticus has to put out there. I’ve especially been eyeing 2010′s Daring to Eat a Peach by Joseph Zeppetello. (Like I’m not going to read a book that has a titular reference to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” You know I’m on that like a fat kid on a piñata.) (Don’t get mad, I was and continue to be a fat kid. Smacking the shit out of something until it gives me candy sounds like my idea of a great time.)
I would normally spend this time talking about how awful a press’s website is to navigate, but guess what? Atticus has their shit together. You can find everything you want. There are no mazes of links or terrible graphics (isn’t their logo awesome?). It’s like they actually want you to be able to find stuff. Gaspshockawe. I also love that they’re active on Twitter–not only that, but fun to talk to. Strike up a conversation with @AtticusBooks sometime; they’re pretty rad.
I am looking forward to reading more from Atticus Books. (I think I have a galley of Apostle Islands in queue right now, in fact . . .) What about you guys? Have you read anything from Atticus? Did you love it? Do you have anything from Atticus on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments!