Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Andrew Hilbert's Smallpressmas Guide

Yes. I was lamenting a bit on Twitter the other day about the lack of representation for amazing small press books around the holidays. So many of the big name magazines had 'best of the year' lists that just recycled the same handful of titles - Lincoln in the Bardo; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and Exit West, to name a few. Not that those books aren't worthy of the attention that they've acquired. I'm sure they are outstanding, intriguing, and powerful titles. And rather than get all soap-boxy about it, I decided to try a friendly call to arms - I challenged small press authors to consider giving a shout out to other small press authors this holiday season. To help spread the word about the glorious underdogs... the underread but just-as-equally-amazing independent titles that wowed them this year.

Andrew Hilbert was the first to answer my call.

Behold... his small press holiday gift guide!


Hey! You! You're buying people books for the holidays, aren't you? Why don't you buy a gift for TWO people at ONCE with only ONE gift? Holy cow. What dark arts am I evangelizing for now, you ask. 

Buy small press books.

For one, the stuff you read from a small press is infinitely more exciting than whatever shopping list Jonathan Franzen has written onto his Fruit of the Looms and sent to his publisher. For two, you're not only giving somebody a great readable and shareable gift, you're also giving money to small presses and small press authors just by buying the damn thing. You're killing two birds with one paperback. It's a Christmas miracle.

Here's what I think you should buy for yourself or for someone else.

1. Heathenish by Kelby Losack, published by Broken River Books - Heathenish is a smooth as cough sizzurp tale of fucking up and wandering through near-criminality. Redemption comes, as it always does. Losack displays a true storyteller's economy of words - nothing is wasted, nothing is extra, everything is a gut shot. Read it. Give it to somebody as a present. It's good.

2. The Nightly Disease by Max Booth III, published by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing - Max Booth III is the funniest writer publishing today. After being screwed by another small press (it happens. It's happened to more of us than we like to admit), Max decided to publish this novel himself and I'm glad he did. The new cover by Matthew Revert is phenomenal and the book is just as funny as it ever was. This was by far the funniest and darkest book I read this year. 

3. Quizzleboon by John Oliver Hodges, published by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing - It's hard to explain this book. It's a hillbilly gospel. It's funny as hell. It's fast paced and as soon as I read the phrase, "pussy crust," I knew the book was for me. If you have some asshole in your life that will find that funny, this is the book for them. No kidding. 

4. The Snake Handler by J David Osborne and Cody Goodfellow, published by Broken River Books - It's like if Harry Crews wrote Feast of Snakes as an action flick. It's a quick read and it's fun as all hell. I'm looking forward to whatever this collaboration puts out next.

5. Itza by Rios de la Luz, published by Broken River Books - My small press tastes are very Texas centric. I'm a lazy person and I find it very hard to get engrossed in online social circles with people I'll likely never meet. You'll notice every book I've picked is from a Texas publisher. There's reason for that. I'm able to go see the events they put on because they are within a five mile radius of where I live. That's not to say I don't read other publishers, I just read things I've purchased from an actual person with more priority than books I order from a robot named Amazon. That being said, Itza is a great, surreal tale told like it was a story passed on throughout generations. The imagery is vivid and exciting. 

The world is crazy, folks. Why are we spending money on the same old titans of industry who have always tried to dictate cultural tastes? The truth, the excitement, the intensity is at small press level. A few weeks ago there was an article asking about where all the working class writers were. You've got to have your eyes closed if you can't find them. They're right here. They're working at regular jobs and writing for just as many hours. Support them. Share them. Happy holidays and merry Smallpressmas. 


Andrew Hilbert is the author of Invasion of the Weirdos and his ongoing audio novella DEERMAN at Keep up with him at and @ahilbert3000 on Twitter.

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