I’ve been wittering on quite a bit recently about my various book subscriptions; I’ve taken out a few this year, and it does seem a good way to support smaller publishers. In particular, I’ve mentioned Sublunary Editions; and back in July I covered one of their releases, “The Art of the Great Dictators” by Joshua Rothes. It was an absorbing and stimulating read, and I’m particularly fascinated by their idea of releasing short texts in a variety of formats – they describe themselves as “An independent publisher of portable literature”! The first items I received were intriguing to say the least; as well as two slim books (more of which later) the initial mailing contained sheets of experimental texts as well as art cards. This is a wonderfully novel way to provide short bursts of stimulating writing, as well as introducing new authors in bite-sized format!

The luminous begins from the small and everday, the particular and peculiar.

As for the the two books, the first I read was “A Luminous History of the Palm” by Jessica Sequiera. The latter has already published in novel, short story and essay format; and “Luminous…” is a fascinating work featuring capsule portraits or stories ranging over the centuries – and all at some point touch upon the palm. It’s a beautiful collection with some lovely writing, and really seems to me to celebrate the power of storytelling. The use of the palm as a touchstone, reappearing throughout history in tales from the past, is ingenious, and it often appears in unexpected ways.

As honey bees we visit the flowers of palms, carrying pollen from one anecdote to another, seeking out nectar and translating it.

Some tales featured characters or situations I recognised, and some were new to me but no less fascinating. Interspersed with the fictions are sections where the author muses on her adoption of the palm as a symbol and the concept of luminosity. It’s a clever conceit and a memorable work which certainly lingers in the mind. The stories are brilliantly constructed, jewels of short form writing – a particular favourite was “Chef, Lebanon” which told its dramatic story in two and a half pages, with a stunning end.

          I have received two or three reports throughout the years of the stir of
small and noiseless packs of words stalking dark acuity in the thickets

The second volume was a dual language poetry edition, “The Wreck of the Large Glass” by Monica Belevan. The author is another name new to me, and the book is particularly unusual, as generally with a dual language edition you get the original language on the left page with the translation on the right. However, these are two completely different texts: the one in English mentioned above and the other (starting from the opposite end, when you flip the book over) is “Paleodromo” in Spanish (so alas, I can’t read that one!) Interestingly, Belevan is described as a “writer and design theorist” and the visual certainly seems to inform her work. The title poem, in particular, uses the visual as a crucial element of the writing, inserting symbols into the verse; and this is also present in the Spanish part of the book where passages of musical notation appear. In his introduction, Rothes notes influences such as Pound, Whitman and even Joyce – but I felt that Belevan had a distinctive and fascinating voice of her own.

So my first subscription arrivals of Sublunary texts have made for a really fascinating and rewarding reading experience. I love the fact that the publisher takes risks, bringing out texts which might be unlikely to make it into the mainstream. And reading these ‘objects’ (as they’re sometimes described by Sublunary) has reminded my how easily I get seduced by the beautiful *sound* of words, without always having to grasp the meaning. I can see that I am going to have a very happy reading relationship with Sublunary Editions!


As I started to put this post together, more arrivals popped through the door from Sublunary, including this lost work from an author I know and love, as well as a separate envelope with two more text sheets! It’s all very exciting, and I can’t wait to read the Schulz…. ;D