Off-Broadway

(adjective) 3. (Publishing/Literature) designating the kind of experimental, sometimes (but not exclusively) lower-budget productions, non-traditional collaborations and commissioning partnerships, innovative distribution models and prototyping associated with literature published outside of ‘traditional model’ publishing by the mainstream houses.

With apologies for taking what is a very specific set of criteria relating to theatrical productions in Manhattan and applying them to literary publishing in the UK, but I’ve noticed that ‘Off-Broadway’ is becoming a useful metaphor, an easily understood shorthand when talking about my more experimental literary projects; particularly stories or books that allow me to explore future publishing-type scenarios.

So, for example, when someone asks — as they did last night — what I’m working on or what I’ve got coming up next, I will thank my interlocutor for their kind interest and tell him or her that I have a new work of fiction coming out on 26 April which is called Dicky Star and the garden rule.

If their curiosity remains unsated, as was the case yesterday evening, I will continue. Telling them that this book was commissioned alongside new works by the brilliant artists Jane and Louise Wilson as a kind of open-brief, arm’s-length collaboration, that this will be on general release in both print and ebook editions as well as being on sale at Jane and Louise’s exhibitions over the coming year, and that it will be launched with events in London and later (we hope) in Leeds and Manchester and more.

Should I be pressed to expand further, as indeed I was, I may add that review copies are going out this week, and that a limited number of pre-publication copies are also exclusively available from the DCA Bookshop at Dundee Contemporary Arts, where Jane and Louise Wilson’s exhibition is on until 25 March.

‘Sounds great,’ they will say. ‘Is that with [name of usual/previous publisher]?’

‘No,’ I will reply. ‘It’s kind of Off-Broadway.’

Tony White, Dicky Star and the garden rule. Forma Arts and Media Ltd. Publication date: 26 April 2012. Extent: 49pp. Size: 210 x 148 mm. Distribution: Cornerhouse http://www.cornerhouse.org/books ISBN 978-0-9548288-6-8. Price: £5.00

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