INTERVIEW: CURTIS WHITE
One of the alternatives to New York megapublishing is the small press, like FC2 and Black Ice, the latter which you co-direct. What does the state of the small press in American look like from within?
First, since presses like FC2, Dalkey Archive, Sun and Moon, and Coffee House publish so many more quality literary titles than any commercial publisher you can name, I don't know why anyone should think of us as small. Among the four, more than a hundred new literary titles and reprints in the last season alone. In terms of production, significance, visibility: these are the best of times.
What sort of problems does a small press have to surmount to stay in business?
The biggest problem is: How to play in the same pool with Random House and Barnes and Noble and not get inundated. The rules of the game are written for giant organizations with lots of money to lose and cash flow resources. Last year, returns from Barnes & Nobel canceled out all sales for the fall season. If it hadn't been for our notorious N.E.A. grant, we'd be gone now.
Will the small press continue to operate as it has—as a viable alternative to the McDonaldization of the literary marketplace—in the twenty-first century?
Yes. This will mean at least three things: Preservation of the literary past (Dalkey); discovery and maintenance of the literary present (Sun and Moon and FC2); polemical troublemaking pranksterism of Avant-Pop, cyber-mods, and chicklets everywhere (FC2, Semiotext[e], and a gadzillion more ephemeral zine-scenesters).
CURTIS WHITE is the author of Memories of My Father Watching T.V., Requiem, and The Middle Mind. This interview first appeared in Rebel Yell (1998).