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A Radical Homosexual Refutes the Implicit Sexuality of a Young Woman in Appalling Black Glasses: M. Kitchell on the Topics of Solar Luxuriance and Publishing in the Twenty-First Century

Solar Luxuriance

The micropress Solar Luxuriance was founded in 2010 by the poet M. Kitchell in DeKalb, Illinois. Since abandoning the pink faces of the American Middle West and relocating to the cesspool of tech privilege and class war that is San Francisco, Kitchell’s output through the press has gone metastatic.

Having now published forty-two different works in a variety of physical formats, Solar Luxuriance is at the forefront of a curious movement of chapbook resurgence. Can the printed text retain its legitimacy and intellectual focus in a world where the dogs of war slaver over Slavoj Žižek’s tweets on Halsey’s “New Americana” and Starbucks? Jarett Kobek, reporting for 3:AM Magazine, finds out!

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3:AM Magazine: For people who don’t know what Solar Luxuriance is, how would you describe it?

M. KITCHELL: Well, there’s basically two specific interests that I maintain as the publisher—and I am Solar Luxuriance, it’s just me; there have been other people that helped with certain things in the past but for the last couple of years it has just been me. First and foremost, I’m specifically interested in publishing books that are books, as in books that are dependent upon the form of the book to function. I say this in the sense that a lot of books that get published are either just collections of everything the author has published in journals (this is especially true in the case of poetry it seems), or, you know, something like a novel, something shaped like a traditional literary novel that functions just as well as an audio book or as a television drama or whatever.

My interest in publishing books that are books comes from a focus on the book itself. A conscious thought that the book as a container, as an object, is the final goal for whatever writing or images or whatever the book contains. There’s a precedent with the idea of the artist book—something that people like Joanna Drucker have written extensively on—there’s also a direct enagement with my interest in écriture. By écriture I am ostensibly referring to the poetry of post-war France, a sort of post-Mallarmean lineage, but also specifically a post-Bataillean lineage. I’m thinking here of Anne-Marie Albiach, Claude Royet-Journoud, Bernard Noël, Edmund Jabès, etc. This was basically poetry, but they called it “writing”—écriture—because, specifically in France, there is a stringent formal history of poetry, etc. Most of the authors I’ve listed were concerned more with the book than the poem, and within that they’re thinking more of the shape of text on the page, the way that one page follows another when you turn the page, the left side of a spread in a book and the right side, etc., and that physicality, the text’s corporeality, that plays into this.

The second reason that Solar Luxuriance exists is to publish the work that I want to see published that I’m not seeing published anywhere else. This is a boring answer because why else would you start a press but to publish things that are not being published? Literally every press ever gives this answer, so it’s not an interesting one.

3:AM: Do you feel that every press needs that animating spirit of maniacal egotism and stubbornness to force someone’s vision of what needs to be published into the world?

MK: Actually, yes. If you don’t really believe, in that narcissistic way, that your own taste matters, then there’s no reason to keep a press going. None of us, at this scale, are making money.

3:AM: Most people who end up reading this will have no idea who you are or where you are located. You’re in San Francisco and you’re originally from the Midwest.

Amongst many other things, you publish your own work on Solar Luxuriance. There’s both a charitable and uncharitable way of viewing this. People who don’t follow the press could wonder whether or not it’s a vanity press. What distinguishes Solar Luxuriance from someone writing a Game of Thrones knock-off and resorting to CreateSpace?

MK: The primary difference is that publishing, whether it’s my own books or the books of other people, is part of my praxis. With Solar Luxuriance three of the titles have been perfect-bound books that I’ve had printed, but otherwise all of the books are printed by me, designed by me, assembled by me, trimmed by me, etc. In that sense the reason that I choose to publish myself, and will continue to do so, is because I feel like if the book is conceived of as a book, then within that process I’m already thinking about design elements that are not necessarily diegetic but physical and practical decisions.

If I’m conceiving of the project as a book from the first step and bringing it to fruition by actually releasing it into the word myself, I can align it to a visual art praxis. In the sense that I am producing the object, and it is an object, a physical object, and I am trying to directly place it in the hands of other people, or a bookstore, in the way that an artist places her work in a gallery. In the best possible world of putting books into a bookstore, the booksellers at said bookstore are going to act in your favor by selling the book and taking a cut in the same way a gallerist does.

But the reason I’ve combined this praxis with the act of publishing others, in my own egotistical narcissism, is in interest of shaping the press, publishing concrete examples of work I want to see from people other than myself, hah. I publish my own work to help direct the direction the press takes. For instance, Apart From is a 90 page book that has full color photos, coal-black page spreads, and very little text on each page. Minimal text on a page is something characteristic of much of the French écriture that I mentioned. While the amount of text may be minimal, the blank space gives the text room to breathe, to be experienced without being beaten down by a busy page.

It’s a curation thing. I’m much more interested in publishing works that fit the idea of what I think books should do. I believe that the function of books lies beyond representational language, beyond being an easy way to encounter language, and there aren’t many presses doing anything interesting with that. But then again, there don’t seem to be many writers doing things like that.

Solar Luxuriance - Apart From

3:AM: At any point in the last three hundred years, to be a writer has been to invite punishment. If you’re doing it right, it’s an unbelievable masochism, but those previous centuries and decades have been very different than the last ten years. They weren’t overrun with the argument that comes from a great number of loud people—most of who don’t read and have an economic interest in the alternatives—that the book is dead. Print is dead. All of this is dead. Yet there you are, cranking it out.

I don’t think you’re the equivalent of one of these people who cultivate an interest in a dead art form like jousting. There are other people who would agree that print isn’t dead. But they aren’t like you. They aren’t interested in form and making the book go anywhere interesting. I guess the question is: Why? Why are you bullish on print? Why do you think that print is something that still has a functional validity?

MK: The first answer, and this is quite banal, is that I don’t have any faith in ‘the cloud’. I don’t have faith that every hard drive won’t eventually fail. The world is fucked—we might not have electricity in ten years. Without electricity, all of this shit that is only available digitally won’t be accessible in any way.

We know that books are archival if they’re printed with the right kind of ink on the right kind of paper. There are incunabula that you can still see and touch if you have put on the right gloves in the right special collection. Before I moved to California, I worked in a library. A lot of what I became interested in reading, which directly affected the way that I write, was a lot of work I found by wandering around the library. The full text of every book is not available online. The genesis of my interest in, for instance, French écriture, derives from the fact that I discovered Bataille by accident when I was sixteen. Bataille lead to French erotica, and my combined interest in French erotica and Eurohorror lead me to find Alain Robbe-Grillet, which opened the entire New Narrative movement and then through that I realized I was interested in the experimental currents of French fiction at large. So I would look at journals from the late 1970s through the early 90s that would collect new French fiction and new French writing. In an issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction from 1989, there is a text by the French writer Mathieu Bénézet, and there’s nothing else of his available in translation save for a few poems. I found this larger prose piece in the journal fascinating, and the really great thing about that specific issue is that at the end of the volume, the translator asks the writers to talk about their influences: Bénézet names Mallarmé and he drops the post-structuralists like Derrida, etc., and then he moves into these French writers whose names I was completely unfamiliar with. And because I was at a library when I read this, I was like, well, I’m going to go pull some books by these authors from the shelves and just see what’s up. And so I did that. I am, in many ways, a very visual person, and a lot of this work is very austere and striking in the way that it sits on the page. My interest was immediately piqued.

So it’s pure exploration. There’s an extent that you can engage in this sort of “digging” on the Internet as well, but there’s something to be said for the encounter with the object.

3:AM: The depth of that online exploration is very shallow. There’s a point where the information cuts off. It’s not there. So that’s one answer.

MK: There is a very specific difference between engaging with a text on a screen and engaging with a text in a book. I feel like eReaders have made the text more portable and, despite hesitation, I finally bought a cheap tablet so I could read PDFs without having to sit in front of my computer. It’s something I never thought would happen—because I truly enjoy the physicality of books—but for certain work it really doesn’t matter how you read it, because the meaning of the words, the order the words are in, is the only important thing.

As I’ve said, what I’m interested in publishing is what I’m interested in regarding the book. There’s not a direct equivalence between an e-book and a physical book, in the actual experiential aspect. You know, you swipe instead of turning a page, or you scroll down. It’s physically different. Even at an optical level, the backlit RGB of any screen, there’s a different sort of optical tension than with a piece of paper. Fluorescent colors cannot be reproduced digitally. There’s a physical pigment in fluorescent inks that you cannot digitally reproduce, that cannot appear with fidelity on a screen.

3:AM: I do like the idea that fluorescents can’t be reproduced.

MK: They can’t be photographed either.

3:AM: You have a photography background.

MK: In the sense that I have a BFA in photography.

3:AM: Does that have a relationship to what you’re doing with Solar Luxuriance?

MK: It’s gotten to the point where I completely do not understand photography. That has more to do with my own interests as an artist than it does with photography as a medium. When I was working with photography, I was interested in creating narrative tableaus and photographing them, which eventually turned into combining images with text and then putting that in a book. That was the direct progression. I think photography is a way of looking at things. I think it’s similar to theatre, in the sense that you are arranging objects and people in three dimensional space, and the spatial arrangement is related to meaning, but then instead of having actors deliver dialog to tell a narrative, a tableau can be only a moment, and if this moment is well conceived it delivers a tone instead of a fully-developed narrative. Taking this idea to writing, to conceive of the page as a tableau, as a theater, it’s a much fuller way of considering the page. When you’re looking at the parts of the text as actors, objects, scenery, whatever, then it doesn’t necessarily make sense just to have prose blocks. What I’m trying to say is that photography helped me develop a visual language, and in the development of a visual language, it became really pressing; I thought, why am I supposed to ignore these visual signifiers in writing?

Another very influential book for me, as an adolescent, was House of Leaves.

3:AM: Ah, yes.

MK: Which I know you are not a fan of. However, for a fourteen year old obsessed with horror movies, and interested in narrative and writing, to encounter that book, specifically “The Navidson Record” section, and to see a functional example of how these external signifiers can actually effect the experience of reading the book…

3:AM: I can see the influence. The key difference being that your books don’t look like shit.

MK: It’s also not the early 90s and I’m not laying out my books using Microsoft Word.

Solar Luxuriance Books 3

3:AM: That must be said. Let me backtrack. I did an interview with Iain Sinclair which appeared as a Solar Luxuriance publication. One of the appealing things about the experience was the fact that you make all of your books available online after there are no more copies of the physical text.

That held a great attraction, because it’s a natural home for the interview. And I think it’s a natural home for most of the texts you’ve published. I’m curious as to why you do this—most presses wouldn’t. And having said all that you’ve just said about print, you’re creating digital iterations which in many ways will have greater reach than the original objects themselves.

MK: First, I’m going to address your interview with Iain Sinclair. I imagine that given everything I just said, there’s probably the question of, “Well, if you’re interested in books conceived of as a books, then why did you publish an interview?” I feel like that interview was so meaty, there’s a lot to it, there’s about what, thirty, thirty-five pages? This is something that I find myself thinking about a lot. Something like that, if that interview would have been published online it would have been too long for someone to read in a way that they were paying that much attention. It would be something that people read on their lunchbreak over three days.

I feel like the way that publications put so much together doesn’t give very much space to focus on each thing individually. I have this weird neurosis in which I have to read a book basically from cover to cover. Even if I just want to read one section that’s near the end, I generally will not let myself go straight to that section. And I think that’s part of my fidelity to the form of the book.

To present an interview on its own, instead of in something like The New Yorker or fucking Harper’s, is to allow the text space, which, especially in physical form, allows the text more attention.

3:AM: As you may remember, or maybe, blessedly, you’ve forgotten, the interview was originally pitched to The Believer. When that interview happened, I intentionally asked Sinclair about broad, general topics. Hopefully from angles that every other interviewer hadn’t done before.

But I was in a situation where I thought, “Will I ever have a chance to talk to Iain Sinclair again? Probably not. Let me ask him about much, much smaller things knowing full well some of these things will never appear in print.”

For example, there’s a filmmaker named Michael Reeves. He’s most famous for The Witchfinder General. Never has England looked so beautiful yet been so violent! And Sinclair writes about Reeves in Lights Out for the Territory.

If you look at Reeves’s films, it’s unclear that the man had any idea of how his work turned out. I don’t mean he was incompetent, but he conceived of himself as a British Don Siegel, yet the work is much weirder than Siegel. You get the sense of a guy who had no idea of his own strangeness. When I interviewed Sinclair, I asked him something that maybe no one else has, which was, “Did Michael Reeves have any idea what he was doing?” and Sinclair’s answer was, “Probably not.”

Questions like that were asked with the knowledge that they would never appear in print. And through a variety of machinations which I still don’t understand, the original venue fell out and I approached you. This turned out to be perfect for a Solar Luxuriance chapbook. It wasn’t so long that it was overwhelming but it wasn’t the right length for anything else. And no one else would have published it in that format.

I just ordered another interview with Sinclair from Post Nearly Press, which is quite good, but the press has said when their book sells out, it’s gone. There’s no more. So we return again to the original question which is: why are you doing this?

MK: From the point of view as a bookseller, it’s probably a horrible idea. Because I always do put the books online, I’m sure there are many people who are like, “Why the fuck would I pay for this when I can just read a PDF when it sells out?”

When I started Solar Luxuriance, I was working at the copy center in a university library printing books on the photocopiers, maintaining a very DIY zine ethos. What I realized is that I only had the capacity to print these very small editions. I thought, if the belief is that I am publishing work that deserves to be read, I should do whatever I can to make the work available to as many people as possible. I don’t have infinite finances so the press can’t have open editions for everything. I’m not using print-on-demand because I’m not in any way a fan of it. Giant print runs are financially not a possibility. (Despite this, the size of Solar Luxuriance’s print runs have gotten, and will continue to get, larger as I keep going. The books I’m doing this year will all have print runs of between 50 and 100.)

The internet, shockingly, as it has proved to be little more than a medium for advertising, has been instrumental in providing the capacity to spread these small books to a larger audience. I think it’s similar to how I, personally, will often download an album, and then if I really like the album, I’ll buy the record. The digital file is a simulacrum of the actual thing, but it’s not the full experience of reading an actual book. I put the PDFs up because I want an idea of the work to still be available for the people who missed it.

Solar Luxuriance - Hymns

3:AM: I wonder if the online component is animated by a unique viewpoint on the cost of books.

MK: Very much. Until very recently, I also ran an online journal. LIES/ISLE. And what’s really interesting is that LIES/ISLE was around for eight years and it was not by any means a very popular online magazine, but there were a handful people who had at least heard of it. But at no point was I ever bogged down with submissions. On one hand, it would have been nice to have more submissions. On the other hand, when HTMLGiant was still a thing, there seemed to be endless discussions from people who were running journals of their endless slush piles. I never had this issue with the journal, and I’ve also never had this issue with the press.

As for the reason why, I think, for one thing, I’m legitimately interested in marginal “outsider” work that is very-much not something you’re going to find anywhere else. But I also think I make very apparent what I’m actually interested in publishing. I think that presses/journals responding to the question of “What are you interested in publishing?” with like, “Read one of our books to find out what we’re interested in,” is kind of a bullshit answer. Different people take different things away from the same books.

I have specific interests in terms of what I want to publish. I’m pretty capable of articulating these interests and I try to do this when I can. This, combined with the fact that actual examples of what I’ve published already are available to read free of charge, makes it easy to figure out what I’m actually interested in publishing.

But really, the work is online because I want it to be accessible. Out of respect for (and to) the authors. Like most small presses, I can’t afford to pay authors. It would be absolutely fantastic if I could. I mean, there’s a lot to be said about that, and I often come to the thought that if you can’t pay your authors you shouldn’t be publishing books. I regularly struggle with this.

This sort of ties back into why I’m comfortable publishing my own work. When it’s my own work, then it’s not an issue of, “Fuck, I really believe in this but I don’t have money to pay you for it.” When I publish my own work, I’m going to put the effort into making the book and I’m going to put the effort into trying to get the book out there. It’s kind of fucked up, but a lot of the time I think that when there’s no financial gain to be had there’s not as much interest in pushing the work out into the world or getting people to buy the book. I always send all the authors between ten and twenty-five percent of the print run. I leave it up to the author to decide how many copies they want. It’s hard because it’s marginal work. It’s most often not work that can be reduced to a flashy slogan. Even if it could be, I can’t afford to pay for advertising. But one of the things that I can do is have the work available for free once the physical object is gone. Then at least the work doesn’t die.

In the economy of book buying, people seem much more interested in purchasing “full length” books than chapbooks, and I don’t totally understand this. The late-capitalist impulse of quantity over quality maybe?

3:AM: The concept of the full-length book expands by five thousand words every ten years. At present, a novel on the short end is 80,000 words. Depending on how it’s typeset, that’s about 250 to 300 pages. But novels used to be 60,000 words. There’s this bizarre expansionist policy. When I did ATTA, which is 32,000 words long, it was impossible to think that I could get a literary agent. The concept of the full length book keeps getting bigger and bigger. My guess is that it’s motivated by business considerations.

As someone who is selling the work and then giving it away once the physical copies are gone, you’re certainly allowed the luxury to do something very different thing than everyone else.

MK: There’s often this issue of people being like, “You know, we’re printing 500 copies of this book and that many don’t sell.” My response is always, “Why the hell are you printing 500 copies when you’re only selling 50?” That model to me is insane, especially on the level of a small press. Even something like what I would call a midrange press, or a “larger” small press, like Curbside Splendor or like Semiotext(e) or Sternberg Press, I understand printing a larger run. But it doesn’t make sense for me.

3:AM: With some bigger presses, by which I mean what used to be the twenty-five publishing houses that are now consolidated into four, they’ll print 90,000 copies of a book to sell 30,000. It’s still profitable but there are 60,000 copies that are loss leaders. It’s insane.

Let’s talk about what you are publishing.

MK: By the end of last year, I had put out thirty-seven books.

Solar Luxuriance Catalogue

3:AM: Jesus Christ.

MK: The first book I put out was a chapbook called Cinema/Television/Passion (which later ended up in my book Slow Slidings on Blue Square Press). I took images from weird academic periodicals and shaped them into a narrative, writing a very sparse text around them. At that point in time I was buying a lot of web domains because why not. I had bought SolarLuxuriance.com after a line in a book about Bataille, and I didn’t know what I was going to use it for. And I was like, oh, I like making books, I should start a press. The second book was Float, also by me. It was an oversized book that was printed full-color when I had access to the digital darkroom at the university I worked at. There were only five copies.

When I decided to start publishing books by other people, what I was publishing was work by people I knew in person. I was telling people, “I would love to publish something by you because I like your work and what you write is the kind of stuff I want to publish, and here are the limitations.” It was almost like a project space. For instance, David Peak had submitted a fragment of his poem The Destruction Loops to LIES/ISLE, and at the time I was running that journal with my friend Jenny. Jenny wanted to reject the poem fragment from the journal, but I found the fragment fascinating, so I emailed David and said, “This is obviously a fragment, is it part of a bigger text and if so can I publish the whole thing?” I was in regular correspondence by email with Jon Leon and expressed wanting to publish something by him, and we ended up doing a broadside. Chris Moran, he had written these small poems on his blog and I was like, “These are terrific, are there more of these?” The first book I put out by Leif Haven, Translator’s Note, I’d seen him read at a series in Chicago that Cassandra Troyan ran. And I asked him, I was like, “Hey, I really like that can you send me the whole thing?”

What I’m leading up to is that I did not have a submission policy until two years ago, when I did the Obelisk series, which was right after I published Cassandra Troyan’s Throne of Blood. Cassandra’s book in many ways was the first book to “go anywhere” in terms of reaching a larger audience. It was a perfect bound book, and we ended up doing three print runs. They sold out. I gave Cassandra about a third of all total copies and I know she put a lot of them in bookstores and did her best to get the book out into the world. On a microcosmic level that was the break-out book, and it brought Solar Luxuriance a bit of visibility.

For the Obelisk series, I held an open reading period for a series of five quarter-sheet sized chapbooks that I wanted to release as a package—all five books together. The covers are all the same, just different colors. The idea was that I wanted to highlight short transgressive works of narrative. And I’m just going to read the thing I wrote:

The OBELISK SERIES was created to highlight short, transgressive works of narrative. By narrative: not necessarily fiction — rather, hybrid work that floats between prose & poetry, demonstrating an awareness of the stage that the violent white page presents.

I was interested in spelling out what I wanted to publish and what I wanted the series to do. Each of the five books that were picked are illustrative of what I’m interested in publishing, in different ways. All five look very different in terms of the way the text sits on the page. And one of the writers in the Obelisk series was Freddy Ruppert, who most people know as a musician, as the man behind Former Ghosts, a relatively known quantity.

Of course, I didn’t select Freddy’s book with the thought of, “Oh wow, I know who this is and this will draw more attention to the press!” The book is fantastic. I sold a lot of full sets, and while it was pretty obvious that people were buying the sets for Freddy’s book, because it was the only way to get it after the single copies sold out, I thought it was great because the person who was buying this for one reason would hopefully read all five books and discover something new.

That takes us up to more or less last year when I really decided that I wanted to focus on Solar Luxuriance as a major part of my existence, life and praxis. Rather than just keeping it as something I did on the side when I felt like it. So last year, as an act of pure masochism, I put out 18 books.

Solar Luxuriance Books 2

3:AM: That’s madness.

MK: Especially when I’m doing literally all of the work myself. The first book I put out last year was an 80 page Japanese stab bound book: a very long poem by Chris Moran called Ghost Lord which is fantastic. It is insane to start a year of publishing 18 books by deciding to publish an 80 page book that you’re going to Japanese stab bind. That’s a very intensive process and it ultimately took me about an hour to make the holes needed for the binding of that book. There were 26 copies. So that right there is 26 hours spent punching holes.

After Chris’s book, I put out the interview you did with Sinclair. It was at this point that I realized I had a significant problem: the only women I had published on the press were Cassandra Troyan and Janice Lee—Janice’s book which was a collaboration with Will Alexander. This was 21 books in. I was like, this is a problem.

For a while, I put a little note on the website that said I was only accepting unsolicited manuscripts from women, which brought a few submissions. It was interesting though—I would see Twitter exchanges where someone would mention that Solar Luxuriance was open for manuscripts from women. And people would be like, “Oh, yeah, Solar Luxuriance is really great but I don’t think my work is right for that press.” And generally when I saw this I would agree with that. Which is not, of course, to say that I don’t like the work. It’s just that I was very pleased that what I was doing and trying to do was being communicated enough that other people could recognize it.

3:AM: Whatever else a person can say about your press, it radiates the impression of being a smart press. Put smart in scare quotes. But it’s a smart press at a time when, and I’m trying to be nice, there’s a marked de-emphasis on intelligence.

MK: I don’t think we need to beat around the bush: the stuff in the marketplace that is selling is, mostly, fucking stupid. It doesn’t even try to be anything but stupid. There’s almost a post-ironic jouissance in being as fucking stupid as possible.

3:AM: I think it creates a situation where people could be intimidated by the aura of a press that, for lack of a better word, is smart. But you’ve also published something like Nathaxn Walker’s hlaw hla (w whal daw, which is a smart book but not one that you would call smart in scare quotes. That remains one of my favorite Solar Luxuriance releases.

MK: It’s an amazing book that I think maybe 4 people have bought. The work, the book, which I would call a “book-length text,” takes the musical properties of language and divorces the sound from meaning. In that sense it’s very pure. It’s play, but there’s such a beautiful rhythm that as a reading it becomes engaging in a way divorced from mimesis. The way the language sounds (whether out loud or in your head, as I note in the book’s description on the website) ends up becoming hypnotic—it keeps you following along in the same way narrative would. I’m always very interested in work that figures out how to keep a reader’s attention using a truly radical and unexpected technique.

3:AM: There’s no way to engage with that book and think there’s a Solar Luxuriance house style. I remember we had a conversation where you said you weren’t getting the submissions you wanted. You weren’t getting work from women, you weren’t getting what you had asked for.

Not to get biographical, but you’re queer. You’re gay. Your boyfriend is a wonder. But people could look at the press from afar and think that it was a straight white dude wanking. But that’s not what’s going on. My interview with Sinclair is by far the most heteronormative thing that you’ve published. But you still had to put a notice on the website asking for submissions from women.

MK: When I opened up submissions, I found that I received more work from men than women. For the most part, the work by women was better and more specifically attuned to what I was interested in doing. The second half of last year, I was putting out two to three books a month. I think about half of the titles were by women.

This year I’m trying to focus on publishing work in translation. As what I read is primarily work in translation, it’s something that I’ve always been interested in doing, but I cannot functionally speak or read anything other than English. Somehow, as 2014 was coming to a close, it worked out that I was in touch with three translators, all of whom had translated work that I was interested in publishing and were not put off by the fact that I could neither afford to pay for the translations nor could I publish large editions. As such, I took this to be simpatico with my own devotion to the work itself, to an interest in seeing the work make it out into the world in some way other that just being posted online. So it’s worked out great, and I’m really excited about the work.

The first book I put out this year, Circle of Dogs by Amandine André, was co-translated by Kit Schluter and Jocelyn Spaar. Kit and I worked together to come up with the book’s description, which I think actually does a decent job describing the work:

A placeless atopia is occupied by a canine society and an enslaved, disembodied head, which it impregnates to subsist. Narrative is replaced by a perverted resemblance as dogs become words, genitals stand in for the bodies from which they hang, and the differences between orifices of the body are negated. In this world of dominance and submission, power is unable to gain stability as regimes rise and fall in terrifyingly short pulses. Understandably, this is not a book that will tell you what you already know.

The second book published this year was a collection of writings by Roget Gilbert-Lecomte called The Book is a Ghost. Gilbert-Lecomte only had one book published in his lifetime, a poetry collection that Artaud praised heavily. He’s mostly known, when he’s known at all, for his work with the Grand Jeu, a group (and subsequently a journal) consisting primarily of himself and Rene Daumal.

Solar Luxuriance books 2015

Atlas Press is putting out a Grand Jeu anthology this year, so there must be something in the air that’s bringing Gilbert-Lecomte to surface. As a book, the collection doesn’t necessarily function in the way I’ve been discussing here, but in terms of content it’s very much in line with what I’m interested in for the press, it’s a sort of heterogeneous exploration of ‘going beyond’. Like an abstract mysticism.

The next book SL published was a fragment of Hans Henny Jahnn’s final book, which was left unfinished. Jahnn is the craziest fucking guy, he was, to be a bit reductive, a nihilistic queer writer who also built and repaired organs, and only one of his four books has been translated in English and it’s been out of print forever. The cost of the book (The Ship) is always outrageous when it pops up as available online. It’s awful. It’s one of my favorite books and I don’t have a copy! As an obsessive, that bothers me. The next book in translation, coming early in 2016, is a heady-erotic-poetic novella by Michel Surya who is actually Bataille’s primary biography. He wrote the giant Bataille biography that anyone who is interested in Bataille has read.

So for me, just out of pure egotistical joy, I’m finally able to attach myself to these things I’m so desperately obsessed with. In a way that is functionally helpful, because I want the books to be available to other people, with the idea that maybe someone else can get as excited about this stuff as I am. Which I guess is the entire motivation for publishing.

3:AM: Does Solar Luxuriance have a following?

MK: A small one, at least.

3:AM: Is the idea that the people who you know are reading will have their horizons broadened or are you broadening Solar Luxuriance into a new area? Or is it both?

MK: It’s definitely both. Because of my background and because I was attached to HTMLGiant for four years, I suffer the assumption that people are connecting what I’m publishing to what is commonly known as “Indie Lit” and I’d say that it’s really far from that. When I say Indie Lit, I say it in the sense of a genre, in the way that people use “indie movies” as a genre, which is annoying but very much a genre of communicating in itself.

I think that the people who enjoy the work I’ve published by contemporary English-language authors will react similarly to the work in translation. I’d like think there’s a larger connective tissue other than just ‘this is what I want to publish’. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is 100% true for everything I’ve ever put out, but I think for the most part the idea holds and I think there is an actual developed aesthetic which is what I’m aiming to further develop. Similarly, with people who are perhaps not as interested in writing coming from younger Americans, there’s a hope that they’ll consider, “This press is publishing Roger Gilbert-Lecomte so maybe I should check out some of these other books.” In terms of functioning at the level of a press, which is ostensibly a business, this is very much a hope but not necessarily the motivation because the motivation is that I love this, I want to publish it, and I love it in a specific way that feels like it’s a part of this.

3:AM: Is this what you’re planning to do into the future? What I’m asking is whether these translations are a one-off seasonal thing?

MK: No, not at all. At least I hope not. Kit Schluter and I already have plans to work together further in the future. There’s a lot of work that I know exists that has never been translated into English, work that from what I know about it I’m very interested in getting out into the world. Along with expanding the press to work in translation, I’d like to keep publishing work by my English-speaking contemporaries as well, because I would prefer to insist that there is good writing to be found everywhere, in the same way that there’s bad writing in all languages.

3:AM: One final question with no connection to anything we’ve discussed. There’s an idea that literature can function as a mirror of people’s lives. Do you think that writing can work as a mirror when most people hate what they see hovering over their bathroom sink?

MK: I’m not interested in writing as a mirror of the self-obsessed petite bourgeois existence that plagues contemporary living. However, I say this as a much more complicated statement than one would assume. Because I think there was once the hope that literature, in functioning as a mirror, could shine light on unnoticed things. But, unfortunately, I think that’s a hope which has died.

 

M. Kitchell

ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE
M Kitchell is a writer, publisher & designer based out of the Bay Area. He is the author of Spiritual Instrument (CCM, 2015), Forest Wound (Void Editions, 2015), Apart From (Solar Luxuriance, 2014), and a countless number of pamphlets, chapbooks, zines & editions.

ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
Jarett Kobek
is the author of ATTA and the forthcoming I Hate the Internet, which is accompanied by an exclusive prequel for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. He lives in California.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015.