31 August 2010
What happened to August?! For a good portion of July I seemed merely to be a Vandercook proof press mechanism, hand-cranking sheet after sheet through the press to complete a number of big jobs. August, on the other hand, has been hour after hour at the desk, putting the final touches on our fall books. Being understaffed as we are, the year’s been one long unrelenting production deadline for a while now, so I’m thankful that the work is rewarding.
For about a week and a half I found myself submerged in typesetting the 900-some-page, two-volume revised edition of Jan Zwicky’s Lyric Philosophy. The text is a persnickety one to set, partly because of Zwicky’s exacting sensibilities, but also because of the broad range of material that LP references. It seemed that several times a day I was shutting down InDesign and opening FontLab to modify the typeface or create missing glyphs. I love a book that demands that level of engagement, but I could have used less of it all in one sitting. Those interested in the process of editing Zwicky should read Clare Goulet’s essay “Reading Thisness” in the recently published Zwicky tribute book Lyric Ecology (Cormorant Books). It talks about the work Clare and I did with Jan on Wisdom & Metaphor and stars that oft abused punctuation mark, the em dash.
After packaging the Zwicky proofs up for their transcontinental trek, I turned to finishing up four other books. One is another revival of a book initiated at another press: a new George Elliott Clarke’s Whylah Falls, which we’re trying to have available in time for fall university courses. We’ve also got two novels which couldn’t be more different. Norman Ravvin’s The Joyful Child takes a narrative approach to tell the story of a father and his young son, while Bruce Johnson’s Firmament has more in common with an impressionist painting than it does with your usual novel about a Newfoundland outport. Rounding out the list is Tim Bowling’s powerful look at middle-age bibliomania, Twentieth-century American poetry and a particular copy of Wallace Steven’s Ideas of Order which was owned by the lesser-known poet and Golden-Gate bridge jumper Weldon Kees.
These books are due to start appearing in Mid-September, likely starting with Clarke and Ravvin in September, Bowling and Johnson in October, and Zwicky, well, that book’s like 60 lifts through the press, eh? Maybe in time for under Jan’s Christmas tree. Not all of these books will preceed the catalogue, but it’s been that sort of year.
I was disturbed to arrive at work one morning to discover that former Humber College intern and present bindery überchick Laura MacDonald had perhaps taken the term “bed of the press” too literally. After suggesting that safety requires the removal of cleaning bottles before bedding down for the night, she reassured me that while she was indeed a rambling hobo, between apartments, that she was not actually sleeping in the printshop, but merely preparing for a road trip to Nashville next week. Time off was granted on the condition that she visit Hatch Show Printers and bring us back a nice poster.
ANDREW STEEVES ¶ PRINTER & PUBLISHER