News • October 16, 2017
Brigid Hughes, founding editor of the independent literary magazine A Public Space, announced today the launch of APS Books. Hughes founded A Public Space in 2006, soon after she left the Paris Review, where she had succeeded George Plimpton as editor. The mission of A Public Space magazine is to publish overlooked and unclassifiable work, seeking out writing from beyond established confines.
Jesmyn Ward, Dorthe Nors, Amy Leach, and Nam Le are among the writers whose work was first introduced in A Public Space. Fiction published in the magazine is regularly selected for the Best American, O. Henry, and Pushcart anthologies and prizes. In 2011 Hughes was awarded the PEN/Nora Magid Award for Magazine Editing, and in 2016, the tenth anniversary of A Public Space, the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses honored the publication with the Firecracker Award for Best Literary Magazine. A Public Space’s role in rediscovering the work of Kathleen Collins was highlighted in this December 8, 2016, New York Times feature, and its role in rediscovering Bette Howland’s work was documented in this December 4, 2015, Literary Hub feature.
Early on, Hughes envisioned a book division that would mirror the efforts of the magazine, and she will see that initiated in the fall of 2018, with publication of the inaugural title from APS Books, Bette Howland’s CALM SEA AND PROSPEROUS VOYAGE. The imprint’s first list also includes the acclaimed British filmmaker Sally Potter, with a book about creativity and the artistic process; the artist Dorothea Tanning, with a collection of her journals and letters; and an anthology of responses to Italo Calvino's unwritten sixth memo, edited by Martha Cooley, with contributions from Jhumpa Lahiri and Andrei Codrescu, among others.
In 2015 Hughes came across a copy of Bette Howland’s 1974 book W-3 on the dollar cart at the Housing Works Bookstore. That discovery inspired an issue built around questions of anonymity and erasure in art and launched a search for the author. Though there were two more published books, a MacArthur Fellowship in 1984, and residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell, Howland herself could not be located. Finally, the name of a son of Howland’s, Jacob, a philosophy professor in Oklahoma, was found in an obituary of a family member. There was a safe-deposit box, where Jacob knew his mother kept some things. The day after Hughes contacted him, he told her that he had found unpublished writing, as well as a trove of postcards and letters from a forty-year correspondence with Saul Bellow.
Bette Howland’s work has been described variously as nonfiction, autobiography, short stories, “a first-class novel,” chronicles. She describes it this way: “You don’t use a form. That’s the whole trouble. You find a form….When people worry whether something is fiction or nonfiction, they are worrying about how much invention there is. They should be worrying about how much imagination there is. Imagination is the only way of experiencing life.”
CALM SEA AND PROSPEROUS VOYAGE, a selection of her stories, will be Howland’s first book in more than thirty years. Hughes has said: “This is the work we envisioned A Public Space as a home for—work that feels stubbornly true to itself. Work that can only exist in its own form.”
“For my mother,” Jacob Howland says, “the joyful labor of creative writing was ultimately a moral vocation. She is keenly observant of the mute and obdurate facts of urban life, weighing and registering their human significance. My brother, Frank, and I are thrilled that A Public Space is reintroducing a new generation of readers to her work.”
A Public Space is an independent nonprofit publisher of an eponymous award-winning literary, arts, and culture magazine, and APS Books. Under the direction of founding editor Brigid Hughes since 2006, it has been our mission to seek out overlooked and unclassifiable work, and to publish writing from beyond established confines. Subscribe today, and join the conversation. More
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