Saturday, January 12, 2008

A cheer for Small Beer

Small Beer is a teeny tiny press out of Easthampton, MA, founded by Gavin Grant and author of the highly acclaimed story collection Magic for Beginners Kelly Link. They publish like 2 books a year. We love small indie presses, especially when they do wonderful, unconventional books.

Small Beer is the publisher of Elizabeth Hand's novel Generation Loss. The title refers to what happens to a picture when you copy a copy, not a generation of adrift people. Except of course it does: Hand's narrator, photographer Cass "Scary" Neary, is a burnt-up relic of punk's quick arc. She goes to Maine and meets people who are worse psychological wrecks than herself. She solves horrific crimes that have been perpetuated and tolerated for decades.

I've never read a book quite like this before. Hand absolutely nails down characters, each of whose world has dissolved without them, and mythbusting the romance surrounding each world: East Village punk; the rural hippie commune; coastal Maine minus New Jersey's summer cash; even sings a little death knell for film photography. Then weaves a fantastic, horrifying mystery out of these lost souls. And never veers into camp, because these characters are so finely drawn. Realistic? Yes, in hell. It's totally entertaining. You'll read it in 2 hours, I swear.

The 25 Books polls have closed, otherwise I'd advise you to stuff the write-in box. Thanks to everyone who voted.

No comments: