I am writing this newsletter from Pittsburgh, where I live now. I moved at some point after I wrote my last newsletter and before the Queen died. Belt has always been a remote workplace, and the staff has always lived in various cities. These days, our hardy staff of six do our jobs from Brooklyn, Dallas, Stow, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
I’m thrilled to be living in a city that is compact and pedestrian-friendly enough that I can walk to bars and coffee shops and bookstores and the houses of friends, to parks and museum, to rivers and grocery stores. To be able to walk, walk, walk through a city is one of my greatest joys in life, and I’m old enough to know that if such a reasonable thing gives me that much pleasure, I should find a way to do it more often. I’ve been here almost two weeks and the only time I’ve opened my car door is to return to Cleveland to fetch more of my stuff. It’s only a 2 hour drive, long enough for me to let my mind wander or get deep into a podcast; close enough that the first time I feel a bit sick of driving I can look at the GPS to find I’m only 20 minutes away.
I’m being very slow about settling in. If you were to walk into my apartment, you’d find me sitting here. Someone said it looks like a Stanley Kubrick shot. But, travel, like walking, is a great love of mine, so I’m pretending I am visiting for now, staying at a sparsely furnished Airbnb maybe. I’ll unpack when the weather turns.
Another advantage of living in Pittsburgh is I can take the train places, like to the Brooklyn Book Fest on October 2, where Belt will have a table, and show off our wares. I do not think I will be able to make it, however, what with the whole moving thing plus the Jewish holidays, but if you are in Brooklyn, you really should come visit our table and chat with Phoebe Mogharei, who will be there (she’s super nice). (Of course if you are in Pittsburgh you should definitely let me know.)
In a few days we will be publishing Erin Keane’s Runaway: Notes on the Myths That Made Me, which is a book so smart and so well-written I have to temper my jealously of Erin’s talent. The book is a mix of family history and cultural criticism, and it has caused me to rethink so much of my own life—which is entirely unlike Erin’s!—because she walks us through her reevaluations that many women have gone through as they reflect on what we assumed was ‘normal’ that now, post #MeToo, is shown so clearly to be so very not ‘normal’. I grew up in a feminist family and have always self-identified as such and yet—and yet!—I did not question events and culture and prioritizing of the stories of men that strike me now as so very obviously questionable. Runaway is thus both jaw-droppingly interesting in its own right (Erin’s mother’s story is simply extraordinary) and intellectually revelatory. And it does none of the expected “relatable” or “woke” moves that my description of it above might indicate. It’s the best sort of book, absorbing and thought-provoking at once, and I’m so fricking proud to be publishing it.
There was a long period, over the summer, when I lost the thread of what I was doing, of the purpose of Belt Publishing. The enormous money of the DOJ vs PRH trial made the press seem insignificant. Trying events involving our finances prompted me to wonder if this work was meaningful enough to warrant what I give up in return. I’ve been doing this work for ten years now, and it has been hard and stressful, but it has also always been meaningful, to me at least. And meaningful work, like being able to walk through a city, is something I’ve decided needs to be a priority. Losing my certainty that the work matters—politically, culturally, aesthetically, regionally— was devastating. Finding it again, as I have of late, has been an enormous relief.
Notes from a Small Press is the newsletter by Anne Trubek, the founder and owner of Belt Publishing. Subscribe to receive every post. Oh and don’t forget to grab a copy of So You Want to Publish a Book?, the book based on this newsletter that other people say good things about.
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