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Upcoming Indie Releases for 2020

Posted about 4 years ago by Phil Shepard

Stephen Hawking made an interesting observation in his book Brief Answers to the Big Questions: “…if you stacked the new books being published next to each other, at the present rate of production you would have to move at ninety miles an hour just to keep up with the end of the line.”

So that’s wild. And now I’m imaging some harrowing situation involving a gigantic Katamari Damacy type ball full of clumped books, rolling through a city and destroying everything. *Insert obvious quote here about books being dangerous things.*

To make an obvious observation: a library just can’t house all the great books coming into our tiny world. The sheer volume of them blipping into existence seems kind of unimaginable. Some estimates say the amounts measure up to around 4,500 every day, which is getting close to 2 million books a year. That’s a new book every 19 seconds! Shew-weeee.

So in lieu of the books that may never make it into the library, here is my list of three books brought to you by three different indie presses I really admire. Some (or all) may never make it to our library shelf. But, regardless of their location, these books are sure to dazzle and inspire.

Whiteout Conditions

Whiteout Conditions is the first novel by fiction writer and poet Tariq Shah. Two Dollar Radio will publish this in mid-March. I’ll admit that I’ve never heard of Tariq before. But I’ve been a long time lover and supporter of Two Dollar Radio and their published work. Not many other independent publishers consistently put out quality content with such a diverse range. I would say if I could only read from one publisher from the rest of my life, Two Dollar Radio would be it.

One of the other selling points for this release was the review by Jess Row where he likened Tariq’s work to Denis Johnson and…The Jesus Lizard. I grew up listening to that band, and never in my life have I heard a reviewer liken a book to The Jesus Lizard.  I imagine with albums titles like Goat, Liar, Down, Head, Shot, Show, Blue, Club…etc, this novel is probably written in a short and sweet, terse style that was also championed by authors like Denis Johnson.

This is Two Dollar Radio’s description: “Ant is back in Chicago for a funeral, and he typically enjoys funerals. Since most of his family has passed away, he finds himself strangely attracted to their endearing qualities: the hyperbolic language, the stoner altar boy, seeing friends in suits for the first time. That is, until the tragic death of Ray — Ant’s childhood friend, Vince’s teenage cousin. Ray was the younger third-wheel that Ant and Vince were stuck babysitting while in high school, and his sudden death makes national news.”

Ice Cream Man and Other Stories

Sooooo, Sam Pink is great. His newest book The Ice Cream Man and Other Stories is set to release in early March through Soft Skull Press.  And if you have never read any of his books, stop what you’re doing right now and get to reading.

He’s a pretty busy independent author and visual artist with a whole dresser chest of books to keep you busy no doubt. His books include: The Garbage Times, White Ibis, You Hear Ambulance Sounds and Think They Are for You, No One Can Do Anything Worse to You Than You Can, The No Hellos Diet and two of my personal favorites, I Am Going to Clone Myself Then Kill the Clone and Eat It and Hurt Others .

His stories are a blend of the everyday with the surreal and weird. But every once in a while there is a story so fantastically bizarre, you can’t help but reread. His sparse sentences, profanity and tenderness make his characters and narrative voice really unlike any other.

There’s not much info on his newest book other than small blurbs and reviews from other collections. But it’s safe to expect this book will have at least a man selling ice cream and some other stories.

Pets: An Anthology

Pets: An Anthology is an upcoming collection of writing and art by a group of novelists, poets and academics about their pets. Tyrant Books will publish this wonderful hunk of paper. Some of the stories range from a killer chihuahua, a catatonic toy poodle, a backyard full of endangered desert tortoises, five forgotten parakeets, many dead chickens, a skinny ex-racehorse named Joe and more. April is the release date. Some of the contributors are Ann Beattie[ibistro-link], Blake Butler, C. K. Choi, Tao Lin[ibistro-link], Scott McClanahan (my personal favorite) and Sam Pink (I’m sure this says something about me).

This is probably the most anticipated release for me at the moment. Namely for Scott McClanahan’s involvement. Tyrant books also published his last critically acclaimed book of 2017, The Sarah Book. It’s been radio silence since then. But one of the other joys from an anthology like this is the close contact with new and similar authors. This gift of giving the reader possible authors of uncharted territory to go and explore afterwards. Well, at least it is for me.

Phil Shepard

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