Lookout

New Books on the Block

UNCW alum Holly Bader opens indie Papercut Books in downtown Wilmington

Last week, Wilmington’s newest independent bookstore opened its doors on Market Street. You’ll recognize Papercut Books from the lush fern out front and the small shelf of books marked FREE. Offering a selection to the community at no cost is one of just a few ways Papercut Books owner Holly Bader hopes to give back to Wilmington, where she’s lived her whole life, something she notes is “somewhat rare these days.”

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Meet Lookout’s Spring 2021 Team

Emily Smith, Lookout’s publisher, and student staff members in her spring 2021 publishing practicum at UNCW meet over Zoom.

Alongside publishing faculty, students in the UNCW Department of Creative Writing’s MFA and BFA publishing-certificate programs power Lookout Books through their work in the capstone Publishing Practicum. To celebrate Black History Month and also introduce this semester’s staff, we asked them to recommend books, essays, poems, and stories that they’re currently reading. Get to know our nine student staff members below, and then contact your favorite local bookstore to order these titles. You can also follow the provided links; sales through our Bookshop store benefit both independent booksellers and the work of Lookout Books.


Go Ahead In The Rain by Hanif AbdurraqibMarissa Castrigno is a second-year MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at UNCW, where she also serves as coordinator for the Writers in Action program. She looks forward to watching the evolution of a book from its proposal stage to its shelf-ready form. Right now, she’s reading Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest (University of Texas Press, 2019) by Hanif Abdurraqib, whose writing has fueled her love of all music genres.


Cheyenne Faircloth is a senior earning a BFA in creative writing and a Certificate in Publishing at UNCW. She is excited to work with an independent publisher that cares for left-of-center narratives, and to follow the life cycle of a book from manuscript to publication. Currently, she is devouring anything by Luther Hughes, first stumbling across his poem “if it’s about abuse, then yes, i’ll answer the questions” in Winter Tangerine’s 2016 summer issue.


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Our Most Anticipated 2021 Picks from Indie Presses

This past year, it has been a balm for all of us at Lookout to continue working behind the scenes to bring you vital and timely upcoming releases. While we’ve been at it, we’ve also kept an eye on the work of our peers, who like us believe that small, independent publishers are an essential part of building platforms for new writers and pushing traditional boundaries in publishing.

We asked seven members of the Lookout team to select a book they’re most looking forward to in 2021, including the below highly anticipated titles from our friends at Copper Canyon, Graywolf, Hub City, and Milkweed to name a few.

Preorders are especially important for debut authors and indie books, so please contact your favorite local bookstore to reserve copies, or head to the Bookshop links below. Either way, you’ll help support independent publishing and bookselling!


Homes by Moheb Soliman book coverHOMES by Moheb Soliman is about a complicated relationship with place, belonging, and borders. In this poetry collection, out from Coffee House Press in June 2021, Soliman depicts his road trip along the coasts of the Great Lakes region as he grapples with his immigrant origins, complicated colonial histories of land occupation and ownership, and environmental degradation due to climate change. The ambitious range and depth of his inquiries, and the book’s postmodern poetic, ensure a rewarding read.

 

—Bianca Glinskas

 

Pre-order HOMES here.

 


Fake Accounts book coverI can’t wait to read Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler from Catapult! Described by the publisher as a novel that “challenges the way current conversations about the self and community, delusions and gaslighting, and fiction and reality play out in the internet age,” it seems like the perfect read at a moment like ours. Set at the time of Trump’s inauguration in 2017 and involving his conspiracy–theorist accomplices, it’s coming out via Catapult on February 2, 2021, right as Trump will exit office. In other words, the timing couldn’t be better to allow its political excavations to guide our reflections on the ways that Trump’s version of governance and national narrativizing hinged on his use of social media. It also might get us wondering what role the Internet will play in Biden’s America.

—Daniel Grear

Pre-order Fake Accounts here.

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Support Indie Bookstores and Students: Free Virtual Backgrounds

Cheyenne Faircloth using the virtual background from McNally Jackson Noho
UNCW student Cheyenne Faircloth tests a virtual background from McNally Jackson Noho

If you’re like us, you’ve probably found yourself video conferencing a lot lately—with everyone from grandparents to colleagues to students. At UNC Wilmington, home to Lookout Books, we’ve been gathering in virtual classrooms for the past five weeks now, and as both publishers and teachers of publishing arts, we’ve become increasingly aware of privacy concerns when we virtually invite others into our homes. Maybe joining your latest meeting from a faraway beach or outer space elicited a much-needed chuckle (we hope so!), but for us and for many of our students, background images can be more than a joke or a momentary vacation. They can offer an essential layer of privacy and help maintain confidentiality around disparities in living situations.

We also know we’re not alone in missing the community that bookstores provide—being able to step inside and immediately surround ourselves with books and fellow book lovers. So we reached out to some beloved indie shops that graciously came through with these beautiful, inspiring (free!) backgrounds, available in high-resolution by clicking the thumbnail images below. Whether the next few weeks and months find you virtually attending or teaching classes, joining a book-club conversation, chatting with Grandma, or sitting through your hundredth Zoom meeting, we hope that these images will lift your spirits.

Pub Lab team testing virtual backgrounds during a meeting
Faculty and staff of the UNCW Publishing Laboratory meet using virtual backgrounds from Vroman’s, Main Street Books, Books Are Magic, and Brazos.

Until we’re able to gather again for readings, book clubs, and of course shopping, please visit these bookstores’ respective websites for ways to help sustain them through this difficult time. Many indies continue to host virtual story time for kids, readings, and book launches. They fill orders from behind closed storefronts and work twice as hard for a fraction of the income. They’re serving their communities—those of us who know just how essential books are. We recommend purchasing books from them online or curbside (if they’re offering that option), buying a gift card, or making a donation.


Books Are Magic

Click to download

Opened in 2017 by Emma Straub and Michael Fusco-Straub, Books Are Magic is home to new releases and beloved classics, hidey-holes for children and books to read in them, gumballs filled with poetry, events almost every night of the week and story times on the weekends, and yes, plenty of magic. Haven’t managed to take a selfie in front of their iconic mural? Here’s your chance! Thanks to Michael Chin for this photo.


Click to download

Brazos Bookstore

Brazos Bookstore opened in 1974 to encourage the growth and development of the Houston literary scene. It continues to be a hub for creative and engaged readers in Houston and is now owned by a group of twenty-seven Houstonians who purchased the bookstore when the original owner retired. Many thanks to the Brazos team for this photo.


Driftless Books & Music

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Driftless Books & Music has called Wisconsin’s Viroqua Tobacco Warehouse home since 2009, stocking their shelves over the years with half a million rare, antiquated, used, and new books purchased from the inventories of a warehouse and seven bookstores in five different states. Also boasting collections of records, sheet music, art, and a wall of iconic beer cans; Driftless hosts local and regional bands, poetry jams, author readings, and other events in their community performance space. Later this month, Driftless will host Bookstock: Two Days of Peace, Indie Bookstores, and Music, a series of streamed performances by musicians in indie bookstores across the country. Thanks to owner Eddy Nix for this photo.


Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

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Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews is a bookstore and Spanish-style chocolatería owned and operated by Chapel Hill locals Miranda and Jaime Sanchez, who wholeheartedly believe that the communal experience is cultivated by the sharing of food, drink, culture, and story. At their shop in the heart of downtown, patrons can browse books while enjoying craft brews, a glass of wine, or churros and a cup of chocolate. During quarantine, Epilogue has been working with other local retailers to ship goodie boxes that include chocolate, coffee, and artwork. “We’re been sending those boxes all the way to California and Washington with little notes,” Jaime said in an interview with NBC. “The love for one another has no borders. Through this experience, we’ve seen that the sense of community goes beyond all that. . . . I’ve never felt the community let us go at it ourselves, which we’re so grateful for.” Thanks to Mason Hamberlin, beloved alum of UNCW’s publishing program, for connecting us and supplying this photo by Miranda Sanchez.

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Seven (+1) Questions for Cameron Dezen Hammon

Today in Seven Questions, we talk to Cameron Dezen Hammon, whose debut memoir This Is My Body: A Memoir of Romantic and Religious Obsession was recently released by Lookout Books. Kirkus calls it “a generous and unflinchingly brave memoir about faith, feminism, and freedom,” and the Millions adds, “Hammon explores motherhood, her relationship with her husband, her infidelity, and her growing sense of her own feminism. Her strikingly contemporary reflections about her treatment in conservative churches . . . make her story a salient one for this particular moment, in the wake of the #MeToo Movement.” 

Hammon’s writing appears in The Kiss anthology from W. W. Norton, Catapult, Ecotone, the Houston Chronicle, the Literary Review, NYLON, and elsewhere; and her essay “Infirmary Music” was noted in The Best American Essays 2017. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Seattle Pacific University and is currently a writer-in-residence for Writers in the Schools in Houston.

Why was it important to publish this book now? How do you hope This Is My Body will enrich the conversation, especially around #metoo and #churchtoo?

I think women who have experienced sexual assault and harassment in a church context are hungry for stories that speak directly to their experience. There’s something particularly egregious about someone using spiritual authority to harm, and we need to talk about this.

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The Future of Publishing: Nicola DeRobertis-Theye

In our newest series, The Future of Publishing, we’re reintroducing alumni of UNCW’s publishing program, including former Ecotone and Lookout staffers, who have gone on to careers in the industry. We continue our series with a profile of W.W. Norton’s Nicola DeRobertis-Theye.



Fiction editor of Ecotone while in the MFA program at UNCW, Nicola DeRobertis-Theye currently serves as the subsidiary rights manager for W.W. Norton and formerly worked as a foreign rights agent for Trident Media Group.

“On the foreign side, which is most of what I handle at Norton, we’re trying to place the translation rights to our books with foreign publishers,” she says. “It is a match-making process, knowing editors’ and houses’ tastes, and who can do well with what kind of book.”

“I’ve had really gleeful meetings at the book fairs in Frankfurt and London, where you get to celebrate in person this thing that has crossed borders and found readers,” she says. “It’s a similar process with the other rights, but knowing the book, knowing the ecosystem, that’s what it comes down to, and I do find that it takes both imagination and knowledge.”

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The Future of Publishing: Meg Reid of Hub City Press

In our newest series, The Future of Publishing, we’re excited to reintroduce alumni of UNCW’s publishing program, including former Ecotone and Lookout staffers, who have gone on to careers in the industry. To help celebrate the launch of Lookout’s redesigned website, we begin with a profile of Hub City’s Meg Reid.


Reid designed the cover to Trespass: Ecotone Essayists Beyond the Boundaries of Place, Identity, and Feminism

Lookout Books is more than a haven for books that matter; it’s a teaching press under the auspices of the Publishing Laboratory at UNCW, making it also a haven for apprentice editors and publishers. The imprint and its sister magazine, Ecotone, offer students hands-on opportunities to gain experience in editing, marketing, publicity, design, and everything in between. Meg Reid, Director of Hub City Press in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was among the first class of students to support the work of the newly founded imprint.

The Lookout publishing practicum, taught by publisher Emily Smith, “completely prepared her for working for a small press,” Reid says, “which involves balancing a lot of plates and wearing a lot of hats.” While working for the press, she drafted grants, planned author readings and book tours, and wrote design briefs for artists.

“I always liked that we were called on to talk about the books in public often. I learned how to summarize a book, while communicating its important themes and resonances—a skill I use often now, pitching reps and booksellers,” Reid notes.

As part of her graduate work in writing and publishing, Reid enrolled in the Lookout practicum class multiple semesters and helped publish three titles: Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision, Steve Almond’s God Bless America, and John Rybicki’s When All the World Is Old. She found it exhilarating to help build the imprint. “Edith’s book was a strike of lightning—we were brand new and suddenly in a national spotlight. I still regularly gift people Binocular Vision—to my mind, it’s the gold standard of short story collections.”

As director of Hub City Press, where she has worked since 2013, Reid now publishes between five to seven books a year in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She oversees the publishing program and helps realize Hub City’s mission to find and advocate for extraordinary voices from the American south.

“I always liked that we were called on to talk about the books in public often. I learned how to summarize a book, while communicating its important themes and resonances—a skill I use often now, pitching reps and booksellers,” Reid notes.

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Honey from the Lion: A Companion Soundscape

As the holidays approach, so does the time to curl up with beautiful and necessary books like Honey from the Lion, Matthew Neil Null’s debut novel from Lookout Books. The book, about a rebellion at a logging company in the West Virginia Alleghenies, is both lyrical and suspenseful, an elegy to the ecological devastation and human tragedy behind the Gilded Age.

Our solstice gift to you is an annotated soundscape for the book, expertly produced by folklorist, writer, media producer, and Ecotone contributor Emily Hilliard. Listen to the sounds of crows, trains, and fiddles and imagine yourself right into the world of Honey from the Lion.

0:00 Environmental sounds: Crows, great blue herons, steam trains, crosscut saw, axes.

An overture to situate us in place aurally.

1:22 “On Johnny Mitchell’s Train” by Jerry Byrne, recorded by George Gershon Korson at Buck Run, Pennsylvania, 1946. Song from the 1902 Anthracite miner strike. Via the Library of Congress.

The 1902 strike by the United Mine Workers of America in the anthracite coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania was supported by nearly 80 percent of miners in the area, and it would have been fresh in the minds of the timber companies and loggers represented in Honey from the Lion. The character Judge Randolph is said to have studied the strike, fearing the power of unions: “There’s always a copperhead in the woodpile.”

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