Papercut Press’ Fall showcase at Radio Bushwick last week was surprisingly well attended considering it was on Rosh Hoshanah. A host of folks came out to see bands as well as readers, including Jason Napoli Brooks (also an indie publisher) and Dolan Morgan from the Atlas Review. Indie publishers keep gathering in North Brooklyn, which, along with the varying Short Story clubs, is adding to a rising literary scene that isn’t waiting for McNally Jackson to arrive.
Papercut founder M. Craig’s novel The Narrows was named in The L Magazine’s , and she says the sequel “can come out this time next year if I keep my ass on track.” In person, she is Millennial-fabulous without being pretentious. This Thursday at the Silent Barn in Bushwick, a host of readers (including Scott Putesky, aka Daisy Berkowitz of Marilyn Manson) will help launch You’re Fine., the debut book from Vice contributor and Williamsburg Fashion Weekend director Gina Tron.
Like all Papercut releases, the candid memoir of Tron’s time in a local psychiatric institute will NOT be available on Amazon. We caught up with M. Craig and Gina Tron to see what’s up.
MC: Amazon’s goal is to crush small bookstores, have a monopoly on the book market, and bully small presses. I don’t want to have anything to do with that. I hope that not being on Amazon makes more people want to buy our books, but more important is that moment that arises when I’m talking about a Papercut publication and someone asks, “Can I get it on Amazon?” and I get to tell them exactly why they can’t.
MC: It would depend on the novel and the press. The Narrows needs to be published in the way that it is. It just makes sense for the work. I’d say the same thing for You’re Fine. But mainstream publishing does make sense for a lot of writers, and that’s a fine path for them. I don’t think that mainstream publishing is inherently bad, I think that there need to be more options for writers than that “MFA vs. NYC” bullshit. So I’d consider it, but would more likely go with a more established small press if I were to publish with anyone other than Papercut.
MC: We have ebooks available now, and You’re Fine will be available as an ebook. But solid, thoughtful book design is a cornerstone for Papercut. The work informs the design and the design is so important to the work, like finding the right gallery space for your visual art, or a venue with good sound to play your music. I see ebooks as being similar to looking at pictures of paintings, or listening to an iPhone recording of live music. You’ll get the idea, but it just won’t be the same.
GT: I originally did seek out mainstream publication. A few literary agents asked me to send them my manuscript, and I met with one agent who liked my book but told me memoirs by non-famous people are difficult to sell. I considered changing You’re Fine. to be a fiction novel, but that would have defeated my main purpose in writing it. I wanted to bring attention to how poor the mental health system can be and how hard it is to get help. I think some parts of my memoir are disturbing and if I went the mainstream route, I would have probably been asked to tone a few things down. I didn’t have to worry about that with Papercut Press, who believed in my vision and approach.
MC: It’s Gina’s party and she had the reins on how it would go down. It won’t be like a regular reading; each performer is going to read three to five minutes of You’re Fine, which I think will work well with the way the novel is structured. There are a lot of short sections that are either really funny or intense. The number of readers will keep the night moving with time to breathe in-between and cultivate more of a fun party atmosphere rather than something stiff and proper.
GT: This book is purely memoir and all true. I have tried my best to write everything as close to how to how I remembered as possible. The conversations are not verbatim, as I didn’t have a tape recorder on me and I’m sure there is some bias in it as it is from my point of view. But I tried to be as fair and detached from emotion as possible while writing. Unfortunately, all the shocking things in the book are true and I didn’t need to exaggerate to make anything more interesting. The only parts changed have been changed to protect people, such as names, places, or identifiable characteristics. James Frey’s situation [A Million Little Pieces ] did come to mind and I asked the psych ward for the paperwork on me, as well as talking to friends and family from that time, to factcheck that my memory wasn’t distorted.
Maggie, your last event also included a lot of readers, as well as bands; you’ve also been published in and coordinated events with other indies—are you building your own literary scene in Bushwick, with audience and readership built in?
MC: That event was so much fun! My plan was to get all of these awesome people together in the same room so that they could share their stuff and meet each other and be friends. I definitely want to keep playing around with mixing literature and live music; us writers have a lot to learn from our musician friends. There’s definitely a literary something happening in Bushwick. Papercut’s been working a lot with the Creeps Annual, the Witches of Bushwick, the Moonchurch collective out of Body Actualized, and Molasses Bookstore, but there are so many other people doing interesting lit stuff. I don’t really have a vision when it comes to that sort of thing—I just try to be as open as possible to any opportunity that comes up and as inclusive as possible to all of the new firecrackers I’ve been meeting.
Bradley Spinelli (@13_Spinelli) is the author of Killing Williamsburg.