I’ve just made small donations to Kickstarter projects run by two UK-based, independent international publishers.
Influx are responsible for the sui generis creative non-fiction book Imaginary Cities by Darran Anderson, a sweeping take on how architecture affects our minds and how our minds affect architecture. The book is great and (with hindsight) it would have made money for whoever published it. But that was by no means apparrent before publication and it was the Influx team who took the risk. I’m supporting their funding drive so that they can put more literature like that into the world… and of course to get one of their forthcoming publications as a ‘reward’ for my support.
There’s a reason they’re making the series of The Handmaid’s Tale today. We live in a world where Presidential staff think a lie is an ‘alternative fact’. Truth is becoming fluid, malleable, an annoyance more than an obligation for those in power.
Today we know how prophetic Orwell was, with the very language of his imagined future entering our present. With the seismic shocks, politically and culturally, still resonating after 2016, the time is right to look ahead again.
This is the kind of literature we need right now. Confirmed authors include Cassandra Khaw, whose beautiful, medatitive short story about a man with no heart I heard at Unsung Live 2; and Ailya Whiteley, whose creepy novella The Beauty was nominated for the Shirtley Jackson Prize.
For a spluttering fiction writer such as myself, there is a particular pleasure to reading writers like Anderson, Khaw and Whiteley. It lies in my sense that I could never write as they do. Their literary styles and sensibilities are so different from my own attempts, that reading their work can only ever be enriching. The skill of publishers like Influx and Unsung is recognising such idiosyncracies early, and bringing them to us.
We all spend a lot of time moaning about the inequalities of ‘mainstream’ culture, and how the major publishers and producers seem responsible for homogenisation of our art. Often, it is the small independents who counter this trend: we should put our hands into our pockets and purses and support what they do.