Andy Brown's Conundrum Press turns a big 10 years old and throws a party to be remembered
In independent small-scale publishing, keeping a business afloat for a decade is a big deal in and of itself, let alone actually turning it into a successful enterprise. The fact that Conundrum Press has achieved that rare status is a surprise even to its head honcho, Andy Brown. But, as we chatted on the phone on the eve of his departure for a West Coast promotional tour ("Five cities in five days!"), it is obviously a reality he is happy to contend with.
"It’s pretty remarkable it all came together, actually," breathes Brown happily. In time for the big 10-year celebration, he commissioned new work from all the people he has published through the decade to include in a lovely, fuchsia-covered, juicy little book called The Portable Conundrum. It was a fantastic idea, and the result is a handy-dandy walk down memory lane. But, as with all things publishing, it was quite the doozy to pull together.
"I was very impressed. It was sort of a dream I had that before it got too late for the launch, that I could find everybody and get them all to submit stuff, and through constant nagging it all came together!"
The book includes submissions by Brown himself, Catherine Kidd, Golda Fried, Liane Keightley, Dana Bath, Howard Chackowicz (hi Howie!), Meg Sircom, Victoria Stanton, Vince Tinguely, Marc Nui, Corey Frost, Suki Lee, Julia Tausch, Shary Boyle, Maya Merrick, Joe Ollmann, Nathaniel G. Moore, Elisabeth Belliveau, Robert Allen and Valerie Joy Kalynchuk, who will also be launching a brand new book the night of the party, titled Beauty Is a Liar. The party happens at the Mainline Theatre space on St-Laurent above Segal’s supermarket next Thursday, May 18, and includes readings, screenings, performances from all of the above, and musical entertainment by the American Devices (hi Howie!). And did I mention it’s free?
"There’ll be readings in the theatre space, then in the front room there’ll be the screenings – there’ll be 14 people performing, so it’ll be ridiculous. For me it’s going to be a big nostalgic evening, everybody together again. You know, a lot of people I publish don’t even know the other people I publish, so they can all get together and it’ll be a big love-in. Ten years of love!"
What does Brown consider his biggest accomplishment in 10 years?
"This anthology," he laughs.
Come for the party, and to peruse The Portable Conundrum. Plus, at least one copy of all previous Conundrum publications – even the sold-out ones – will be available for purchase. Can anyone say "collectible"?
Conundrum Turns 10
At Mainline Theatre (3997 St-Laurent), May 18, 8:30 p.m.