Bibliomancy: Harold Bloom on Reading as Listening

Bibliomancy collects insights and observations about the reading/writing life and life in the arts generally, words that could aptly describe the reasons Atelier26 exists.

"I venture that it is impossible to listen to other people the way we listen to a very good book. Lyric poetry, at its strongest, teaches us how to talk to ourselves, rather than to others. The solitary reader may be a vanishing breed, but more than the enjoyment of solitude then will vanish also. The ultimate answer to the question 'Why read?' is that only deep, constant reading fully establishes and augments an autonomous self. Until you become yourself, what benefit can you be to others? I remember always the admonition of the sage Hillel, most humane of ancient rabbis: 'If I am not for me, then who will be for me? And if I am for myself only, then what am I? And if not now, when?' 

...[In books] characters meet other characters as we meet new persons, open to the disorders of discovery, and we need to be open to what we read, in a parallel way.

When you meet a new person, you are ill-advised to begin the acquaintance either with condescension or with fear. When you read even the most formidable literary work for a first time -- be it Dante's Divine Comedy or Henry James's The Wings of the Dove -- condescension or fear would destroy your understanding and your pleasure. Perhaps we all need initially to relax our will-to-power when we open a book. Such a will may return after we have immersed ourselves, and have given the writer every chance to usurp our attention. There are many different ways to read well, but all involve a receptivity in our attention. I have little understanding of Buddhism (my temperament being an impatient one), so Wordsworth's 'wise passivity' seems my best synonym for the kind of attention that good reading requires."

From Bloom's How to Read & Why (Scribner, 2000)
See also: "How Should One Read a Book?"

Bookshop Santa Cruz Staff Pick: People Like You

Atelier26 is proud to note that Margaret Malone's People Like You is a Staff Pick at Bookshop Santa Cruz, one of the finest independent booksellers on the west coast (see our earlier Featured Indie write-up about Bookshop Santa Cruz).

Many thanks to the Bookshop, and to bookseller Chorel, who writes: 
People Like You is, first and foremost, gorgeously written. Each page of the slim collection contains treasures of language that are a joy to behold, and Malone’s writing feels effortless even in its literary intensity. The stories all concern being stuck—in less-than-perfect relationships, addiction, infertility—and the characters struggle within a powerlessness that seeps onto the reader and troubles deeply. By the end, however, the recurring thread of one set of characters comes out on the other side, and hope is restored. I loved this book.

Apply Thyself!

Our August 20th deadline is fast approaching. That's four days left to apply thyself for this fun -- and FREE -- opportunity...

Call for Applications
Award-winning publisher Atelier26 Books announces its first creative writing workshops, to launch in Portland, Oregon this September.

For a limited time, we’re accepting applications for this FREE opportunity to explore and refine your writing in the context of a small, serious, and committed group of writers.

The first workshop will be multi-genre (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry) and facilitated by author and Atelier26 editor M. Allen Cunningham.

About the Publisher
Atelier26 is the publisher of numerous books, including Margaret Malone’s People Like You (a 2016 PEN/Hemingway Award finalist and Balcones Fiction Prize winner) and Harriet Scott Chessman’s The Beauty of Ordinary Things (called “a song of the soul” by Foreword Reviews). Established in 2012, Atelier26 is dedicated to producing beautifully designed and expressive books that get people listening, talking, and sharing ideas. Atelier26 titles are distributed throughout North America by Independent Publishers Group.

Learn more...

This Fall, Meet the Philosopher of Walden Pond. All Over Again.

cover design by Nathan Shields
Atelier26 Books is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of Funny-Ass Thoreau, scheduled for release in November 2016.

Appearing just ahead of the 2017 bicentennial of Henry David Thoreau's birth, Funny-Ass Thoreau is the premiere book of its kind, a collection of the famous (and famously "antisocial") author's most uproarious writing. Here's Thoreau in his own words as he tries to wrangle a pig, pees in the woods, loses a tooth, laughs at Emerson shooing off his own cow, observes the slippery slapstick of snowmelt and mud in the Concord streets, elaborates on his dislike of other men’s bowels, and more.

Edited and with an introduction by Atelier26 publisher M. Allen Cunningham, this hilarious compendium gives us, at long last, the so-called "hermit" of Walden Pond in marvelous display of his most underappreciated quality: his killer sense of humor. 
"I'm really proud to bring this book to readers," says Cunningham, who first traveled from his home on the Pacific coast to Concord, Massachusetts for an annual meeting of the Thoreau Society when he was nineteen years old. He has been reading Thoreau for twenty-five years. "Funny-Ass Thoreau adds something unique to our perspective on this writer's infinite genius. I can't describe what endless fun I've had digging deep into Thoreau's wit while compiling this collection. Readers will absolutely share that joy, and I'm especially keen on seeing the book catch on with people young and old who are new to Thoreau's work." 

With Funny-Ass Thoreau, Atelier26 inaugurates the Regeneration Series, a new line of titles dedicated to bringing the best of bygone literary voices back into currency through small, friendly, handsomely designed editions. Volume 2 in the series is already planned and will be announced soon.

Funny-Ass Thoreau will be distributed to the trade by Independent Publishers Group/Small Press United, available through all standard wholesale channels, and sold direct to readers through the Atelier26 web-store. Pre-orders open soon.

For more information, or to request a review copy, please contact Atelier26 Books at atelier26books [at] gmail [dot] com.

Atelier26 Books Inaugurates Creative Writing Workshops with Free Limited-time Offer

Call for Applications
Award-winning publisher Atelier26 Books announces its first creative writing workshops, to launch in Portland, Oregon this September.

For a limited time, we’re accepting applications for this FREE opportunity to explore and refine your writing in the context of a small, serious, and committed group of writers.

The first workshop will be multi-genre (fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry) and facilitated by author and Atelier26 editor M. Allen Cunningham.

About the Publisher
Atelier26 is the publisher of numerous books, including Margaret Malone’s People Like You (a 2016 PEN/Hemingway Award finalist and Balcones Fiction Prize winner) and Harriet Scott Chessman’s The Beauty of Ordinary Things (called “a song of the soul” by Foreword Reviews). Established in 2012, Atelier26 is dedicated to producing beautifully designed and expressive books that get people listening, talking, and sharing ideas. Atelier26 titles are distributed throughout North America by Independent Publishers Group.

About the Instructor
M. Allen Cunningham is the publisher of Atelier26 Books and brings a writer’s sensibility to the entire publishing process, from intensive editing to design and distribution. He is the author of six books, including The Green Age of Asher Witherow (Unbridled Books), which was named a #1 Indie Next Pick by the American Booksellers Association and was a finalist for the Indie Next Book of the Year Award; Lost Son (Unbridled Books), which was a Top Ten pick in the Oregonian; and The Honorable Obscurity Handbook: Solidarity & Sound Advice for Writers and Artists, which Cynthia Ozick calls “Ingenious…inspiring and inspiriting.” His short stories and essays have appeared in numerous outlets such as Glimmer Train, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Poets & Writers. He was a finalist for the 2014 Flann O’Brien Award and is the recipient of grants and fellowships from Literary Arts, The Oregon Arts Commission, the Regional Arts and Culture Council, and two residencies at Yaddo. He is a contributing editor at Moss Literary Magazine and a frequent public speaker on the subjects of writing, publishing, and literary culture.

About the Workshop
Over the course of this workshop, writers will focus on shaping and sharpening their manuscripts with reference to the principles of effective and compelling creative writing. Each participant will share work and provide and receive feedback both written and verbal. Participants will hear their writing discussed, interpreted, analyzed, and constructively critiqued within a guided workshop format; they will receive written commentary and suggestions on the manuscript itself from the workshop participants and instructor; and they will offer all of the above to their peers. For the purposes of discussion, the workshop will include outside readings (supplied by the instructor).

Location: Portland, OR

Inclusive dates: Mid-September to early-October 2016 (one 3-week cycle) – Monday evenings, 2-3 hours per session

Tuition: FREE to accepted applicants (workshop participants may have the opportunity to continue beyond 3 weeks at a reasonable per-cycle rate)

Eligibility: Applicants must be age 25 or older and committed to the rigors and disciplines of creative writing; prepared to provide and receive serious, well-considered and constructive criticism both spoken and written; and ready to participate in a literary discourse that will include the analysis of published texts (supplied by the instructor).

To apply: E-mail a simple cover letter indicating any prior workshop experience, along with a 5-page writing sample in your workshop genre of choice (fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry) to Questions? E-mail us.

Application closing date: August 20, 2016

August 5-9, 2016: Three New England Appearances by Margaret Malone!

"The nine stories in Margaret Malone's People Like You constantly beguile and surprise. With Chekhov they share both compassion and brevity; they share with Carver and Beattie a confidence in the unforced sentiment of unadorned prose; and in their matter-of-fact humor, which is often laugh-out-loud funny, they tap a long tradition of American humorists stretching from Mark Twain to Lorrie Moore."
--PEN/Hemingway Award Finalist citation
(judges Joshua Ferris, Alexandra Marshall, and Jay Parini)

Winner of the Balcones Fiction Prize
Named a best book of the year by: 
The Oregonian
The Portland Mercury 
Powell's Books
The Quivering Pen

"I love this book beyond measure."

Don't miss People Like You as Margaret Malone returns to New England for three distinctive events:

>August 5, 2016 / 7:00 p.m. > CAMBRIDGE, MA
Margaret Malone reads in the Dire Reading Series 
with writers Jane Liddle and Sandee Storey. 
The Out of the Blue Gallery Too 
541 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

>August 8, 2016 / 7:00 p.m. > CAMBRIDGE, MA
Margaret Malone reads and signs copies of 2016 PEN/Hemingway Debut Fiction Award finalist People Like You. This is a special joint appearance with Chris McCormick, author of Desert Boys, in partnership with GrubStreet.
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138 
Facebook Event Page

>August 9, 2016 / 7:00 p.m. > MADISON, CT
Margaret Malone reads and signs copies of 2016 PEN/Hemingway Debut Fiction Award finalist People Like You.
RJ Julia Booksellers

768 Boston Post Rd.
Madison, CT 06443   
Facebook Event Page 

People Like You book trailer from Brian Padian on Vimeo.

Atelier26 Books to Publish Bird Book by Renowned Poet Sidney Wade

For immediate release: June 15, 2016

PORTLAND, OR — Atelier26 Books is excited to announce the acquisition of Sidney Wade’s glorious new volume of poetry Bird Book. Dedicated to the unearthly wonders of winged creatures, rich with sublime and playful verse in praise of all things avian, Wade’s exquisite poems are sure to draw poetry lovers to birding, and naturalists to poetry.

Bird Book is marvelously alive and inviting, and will inspire and delight general readers, poetry enthusiasts, and avid birders or naturalists,” said Atelier26 publisher M. Allen Cunningham. “Ms. Wade’s bird poems are formally elegant and yet brilliantly vivid and accessible, and they show a keen sensitivity to the mysteries and intricacies of the animal world. This is a treasure of a book, and I’m so honored that Atelier26 has the opportunity to present it to readers.”

Sidney Wade’s poetry has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry Magazine, and many other publications. She is the author of six volumes of poems: Straits & Narrows, Stroke, Celestial Bodies, Empty Sleeves, Green, and From Istanbul. She attended the University of Vermont, earning a BA in philosophy and an MEd in Counseling, received a PhD in English from the University of Houston, and has served as president of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP). A Fulbright scholar and translator, Wade is a professor emerita at the University of Florida where she taught creative writing and was poetry editor for the UF literary journal Subtropics.

Publication is planned for late 2017 or early 2018 and will include an illustrated limited-edition hardcover, an illustrated trade paperback, and an enhanced e-book version with bird audio.

Atelier26 Books are distributed to the trade by Independent Publishers Group/Small Press United, and available through Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Founded in 2011, Atelier26 exists to demonstrate the powers and possibilities of literature through beautifully designed and expressive books that get people listening, talking, and exchanging ideas.

For more information, contact atelier26books [at] gmail [dot] com.

Atelier26 Books to Publish Debut by Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award Winner Woody Skinner

For immediate release: May 18, 2016
PORTLAND, OR — Atelier26 Books is delighted to announce acquisition of the short story collection A Thousand Distant Radios, the debut title by Woody Skinner, for publication in late 2017 or early 2018. Set throughout the American South, the stories in A Thousand Distant Radios are brilliantly bold, indelible, occasionally larger-than-life explorations of the passions and compulsions at the heart of American identity.  

Author Woody Skinner
Woody Skinner grew up in Batesville, Arkansas, and he holds a BA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and an MFA from Wichita State University.  His work has won the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award and appeared in Mid-American Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Hobart, Booth, Another Chicago Magazine, and elsewhere.  He’s currently a PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature at the University of Cincinnati. 

A Thousand Distant Radios came to Atelier26 through our open submissions,” said Atelier26 founder and publisher M. Allen Cunningham, “and this astounding manuscript brings to mind all the reasons the publishing industry ought to banish the term ‘slush.’ Skinner’s stories are wonderfully outsized, funny, raw, and touching — alive and expressive from first page to last. I knew we couldn’t pass this work up. I’m very excited to share A Thousand Distant Radios with readers, and I predict great things for Woody Skinner.”  
For the book’s launch, Atelier26 is planning intensive regional promotion in the South and in the Pacific Northwest, including author events.

Atelier26 Books are distributed to the trade by Independent Publishers Group/Small Press United, and available through Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Founded in 2011, Atelier26 exists to demonstrate the powers and possibilities of literature through beautifully designed and expressive books that get people listening, talking, and exchanging ideas. 

For more information, contact atelier26books [at] gmail [dot] com.

People Like You Reviewed in Hypertext Magazine

Author and reviewer Donna Miscolta recently penned a marvelous, in-depth review of Margaret Malone's People Like You for Hypertext Magazine. Here's a snippet:
The full beauty of Malone’s writing never flaunts itself, but carries a quietly growing ruckus of feeling to the last lovely paragraph ... leaving the reader with a space in her chest more than big enough to embrace these characters over and over again.
Read the full review HERE.

Malone & Drake 2 for $20 Deal!

In celebration of short story month Atelier26 Books is thrilled to team up with our friends at Portland's own Future Tense Books to offer a special discount package on two of the coolest new short story collections you'll find anywhere. For one weekend only, order a signed copy of Margaret Malone's People Like You (Atelier26) together with a signed copy of Monica Drake's The Folly of Loving Life (Future Tense) -- for twenty bucks!

You can get the package right on our website, or on Future Tense's.

But hurry! This offer only lasts until May 15, 2016.

People Like You Receives Rave Review on NPR affiliate KLCC Radio

Connie Bennett, director of the Eugene Public Library, offers a marvelous on-air review of Balcones Fiction Prize recipient and PEN/Hemingway Award finalist Margaret Malone's People Like You.
From the first, the title made me curious.  “People Like You.”  Really?  People like me?  How can a collection of nine short stories promise to be like any reader?  The woman at the party, drinking too much, stealing the birthday balloons?  Another, playing the slot machines with the dying woman?  Or the woman searching for a goose with her possibly lesbian boss?  At first, I held myself aloof, “not really like me.”  But somewhere along the third story, the clarity and density and unifying humanity of these people overwhelmed me. ...
Have a listen to the full review on KLCC HERE.

Margaret Malone Wins Balcones Fiction Prize!

Atelier26 Books is very proud to announce that Margaret Malone’s debut short story collection People Like You has won the 2015 Balcones Fiction Prize

Malone will receive a $1,500 cash award and a paid trip to Austin, Texas to give a reading next spring. 

This award follows fast on Malone’s honor as a finalist for the 2016 PEN/Hemingway Award last month. 

Balcones judge John Blair, author of the Drue Heinz Prize winning collection American Standard, had this to say:
"Margaret Malone's People Like You is a masterfully minimalist collection of lives lived poorly but with the best of intentions. Her stories are powerful, sad, and plain-spoken, and this debut collection takes the normative-yet-desperate circuits of the day-to-day that Bobbie Anne Mason and Frederick Barthelme brought to the forefront of American short fiction and makes them both new again and powerfully affecting.  These are marvelous and worthy stories, and very much deserving of recognition."

Administered by the Balcones Center for Creative Writing at Austin Community College, the Balcones Fiction Prize is committed to recognizing outstanding works of literary merit annually.

Congratulations, Margaret!

Read more about People Like You HERE.

Featured Indies!

With the approach of Independent Bookstore Day this weekend, we're taking a look back at Atelier26's "Featured Indie" series, highlighting a few of the best stores in the biz. It's no stretch to say that vitality of the indies means vitality for democratic culture itself, which begins in and consists of (what else?) neighborhoods!
(See our full list of bookselling partners.)

Owned since 1973 by the Coonerty family, the bookshop thrives in a symbiotic relationship with the vibrant intellectual and civic life of its community on the Monterey Bay (former owner Neal Coonerty was mayor for a time). Following the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which leveled the bookshop, an army of local supporters helped rescue much of the store’s inventory from the rubble. Over the course of the bookshop’s three-year rebuilding campaign, the store was housed in a tent and a fundraiser through the Northern California Booksellers Association made it possible for all bookshop employees to continue earning wages.  ...
What would you do if you struck it rich? For us here at Ateler26 HQ, it’s a no-brainer. Open a bookstore, of course! So we have an immediate trans-chronological fondness for a fellow named Anton Roman, who, in the thick of the California Gold Rush back in 1851, unearthed a fortune in Shasta City, then promptly hung out his shingle as a bookseller. “That small bookstore,” as the keepers of the history tell it nowadays, “was moved, bought, sold, burned, rebuilt, renamed and became Books Inc., as we know it today, in 1946.” ...
"Our stock is different because none of it is based on paid placement or co-op. Every book we carry is because we want to carry that specific book. ... Here, we don’t use electronic algorithms to tell people what they might like — we talk to them. ... I’ve never seen one of our main priorities as keeping up with the Joneses. Our responsibility to our customers is to have an interesting stock and provide good customer service." ...
Situated comfortably among organic eateries and upscale boutiques along College Avenue in Berkeley’s Elmwood District, Mrs. Dalloway’s has proudly served its community (and the larger Bay Area) since 2004. From its inception, the store’s distinctive, hand-chosen inventory has earned the admiration of devoted readers and brought surprised delight to many chance visitors. ...
This capacious 4,500 square-foot store offers more than 14,000 titles on its beautifully arranged shelves and tables. Much of the inventory is handpicked in the best curatorial style by a staff of passionate, knowledgeable readers who love to discover, talk about, and sell books. ... 
The power of large, for Powell's,
has never invalidated the power of local. The handsell, that book-vending art born only of an "old-fashioned" emphasis on community, remains a core value in all Powell's operations. Whether serving readers in the neighborhoods of Portland or in the infinite neighborhoods of the Internet, Powell's seeks to connect people with something far more meaningful, beautiful, and important than the paltry handful of titles on the bestseller list of some east coast newspaper. ...
Here’s a dedicated, gloriously actual store staffed by warmly actual human beings who prefer the term readers rather than “customers” for their clientele, whether in-person or online. Clearly, these are booksellers who recognize the old-fashioned, time-honored handsell as something far more significant than a mere commercial transaction. ...
Also, be sure to get acquainted with these outstanding booksellers in that bastion of the literary, our own Portland, Oregon:
Annie Bloom's Booksellers
Another Read Through
Broadway Books
Mother Foucault's
Reading Frenzy
And see also:
"Drone Resistance: Why Buying Books From Your Local Indie Rather than from an Online Retail Juggernaut Makes Sense"

A Publisher’s Journey: Personal Notes by Atelier26 Founder M. Allen Cunningham

Until my recent visit on the occasion of the 40th annual PEN/Hemingway Awards, it had been eighteen years since I was last in Boston. I’d lived in the region for several intense months at age twenty, having relocated alone from California to begin my writerly life in the neighborhood of the American transcendentalists. 
Skyline from the Boston Common, Tremont Street
I’d wanted to live near Walden Pond and commune daily, in nearby Concord, with the wise ghosts of Thoreau and Emerson. The closest I could get was the city of Lowell, birthplace of the American industrial revolution — a ramshackle town cluttered with eerie decommissioned factories and mills and shrill with sirens day and night. But from Lowell I could get to Concord by train as often as I liked.

At twenty in Boston,
I'd had no proper
coat and couldn't
afford one. Sometimes
I bought books
instead of food.

I set up my new life in a 275 square-foot studio apartment 15 miles from Walden Pond as the crow flies. My sole furnishings were an inflatable mattress, a plastic patio chair, a small lamp, a pile of books, and a radio/cassette player. In a cardboard box I had packed the essential kitchen wares: a can opener, a spatula, two plates, two cups, two forks, two knives, two spoons, and a frying pan. More importantly, I had packed a word processor and a ream of paper. Amid my studio’s “furnishings,” with my plastic chair jammed up against three cardboard boxes stacked to serve as a makeshift desk, I sucked the marrow out of my single-minded days, tapping and tapping at the keys.

The following few months were nothing less than an artistic coming-of-age. If I was not yet exhibiting in my work anything even remotely resembling artistic maturity and I wasn’t I was getting clear, very clear, on what a life dedicated to art would require. The constant sacrifice, the humility, and yes, the fairly constant whiff of humiliation. I see in retrospect that I was meanwhile developing the first foundational aspects of a vision, or, to use an even more outmoded turn of phrase, I was honing a sensibility

I spent a good deal of time in Concord, I haunted the woods of Walden, and I wandered all around the streets and quarters of Boston, occasionally temping in the city or across the river in Cambridge. Beyond the random people of the business world with whom my sporadic office jobs brought me into contact, I spoke to hardly anyone in the course of my several months striving to survive and become a writer. A memorable exception was one gray, bitterly chilly afternoon in Boston. I sought out the offices of Houghton Mifflin on Berkeley Street. As I remember it, the imposing Houghton Mifflin building yes, it’s an entire building still bore the famous dolphin insignia in the pavement before its doorway. I recall traversing the dolphin, riding the elevator upstairs, and walking straight up to a young woman at the front desk to announce that I would like to apply for a position as typist. 

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Building, photo courtesy of Wikipedia
 Somehow I’d gotten wind of the job opening and had convinced myself that this would be my entrĂ©e to the mystery and glamour of the larger literary world. From the first rung of typist, I would steadily scale the ladder toward editorial authority. It would be the fabled American climb via bright ambition from obscurity and poverty to having a say in the way things worked — to being a verifiable part of the literary/artistic universe. I came by this fantasy honestly, and approached that front desk with no sense of entitlement; what motivated me was a wishful belief in meritocracy — I would be the best and most loyal goddamned typist they’d ever had, and from there, rung by rung, my dedication and service would be recognized and rewarded with gradually improving status. 

Hey, I was twenty.

Do I need to tell you that I descended in the elevator that day without so much as an application? The receptionist, I recall, was very gracious — but it wasn’t Houghton Mifflin, it was me. The problem, probably, was my immoderate joy at being “inside the fortress,” my unstudied way of carrying a sense of my own destiny so visibly on my shoulders as I showed up for the role. Here I am! 

Who wants to be a typist as badly as that? I probably wouldn’t have hired me either.

Almost twenty years on,
I’m still a believer. I read
and write and edit and publish
because I believe as much as ever in the intangible value of literature

Fast forward eighteen years. With six published volumes to my name as an author, I’ve evolved into the founder, editor, and publisher of the small literary press Atelier26 Books. What brought me back to Boston this month was the news that Margaret Malone’s People Like You, a fantastic story collection I’ve had the privilege to publish through Atelier26, had won finalist for the 2016 PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction. The award ceremony was to be held at Boston’s John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on April 10th, and Ms. Malone would be honored with a citation awarded by Patrick Hemingway, son of Ernest Hemingway, and author Joshua Ferris, one of this year’s judges.
Left to right: PEN Hemingway Award Finalist Margaret Malone, Patrick Hemingway, winner Ottessa Moshfegh, finalist S.M. Hulse. 

The PEN/Hemingway Award, administered by PEN New England, is a prestigious national literary honor (past honorees include a number of writers who went on to receive the Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur grants, etc). Award recognition of this caliber is a big deal — especially so for a very small press like Atelier26. 

To understand the above statement, consider the following: Atelier26 has no offices (a spare bedroom in my small home serves as World Headquarters); since its inception in 2012, Atelier26 has published 8 titles (1 to 2 per year); while mission-driven much like the finest nonprofit publishers, Atelier26 is not officially non-profit and therefore has no funding source beyond book sales and occasional treasured donations by generous literary believers; much as I wish it were possible to do so, Atelier26 does not pay advances (again, a question of funding), and I myself earn zero income from my more than full-time work as editor, publisher, shipping clerk, bookkeeper, webmaster, social media chief, sales rep, and general pavement-pounder. It’s all what they call a labor of love.

Still, there on the list of 2016 PEN/Hemingway Award honorees, alongside 4 other titles all issued by major publishers (Penguin; Little, Brown; Bloomsbury; and, yes, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), was a book bearing the Atelier26 colophon. And this was not a fluke. People Like You could not be more deserving of this nod from the literary cosmos — I’ve believed that about Margaret Malone’s work all along, and it’s why I first sent her a letter asking if she had a manuscript, and why I have (so far) devoted more than a year and a half to working on and promoting People Like You (more recently with the invaluable assistance of publicist Diane Prokop). 

Margaret Malone with her PEN/Hemingway Award Finalist citation for People Like You.
Malone is a brilliant writer whose career will be a pleasure to watch, and seeing People Like You lifted up and championed in this way restores my faith a little in that elusive meritocracy that so entranced the twenty-year-old kid who first came to Boston to be a writer all those years ago.

On the first day of my return to Boston, while walking to Copley Square, I happened to turn my head and find myself outside of the Houghton Mifflin building. I stopped on the brick sidewalk (where the dolphin insignia has been replaced by the “HMH” of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and gazed up at the massive fortification. The place is still imposing. And there I was again, eighteen years older and wiser but no less impassioned a reader and literary soul. Almost twenty years on, I’m still a believer. I read and write and edit and publish because I believe as much as ever in the intangible value of literature, from the capacity and nobility of the human imagination all the way down to the pure small pleasure of a well-turned sentence. I’ve tried to infuse everything I do at Atelier26 with a sense of this belief. 

At twenty in Boston I’d had no proper coat and couldn’t afford one. I remember the constant aching chill in my bones. I remember the excessive financial indulgence that a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee seemed. Sometimes I bought books instead of food. Now, well-fed and snugly bundled in a good jacket while the cutting wind whistled around me but never got through, I nodded up at the high office windows. I was still here, still on the outside looking in, but now I was also something like an old familiar, a peer, a friend.

-M. Allen Cunningham, April 2016

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