A benefit to running the EWN, and believe it or not it certainly wasn't anything I had in mind when I began doing this back in 2000, is the occasional complimentary item. Many ARC's, galleys, or review copies of books find their way to my mailbox, but I also have received complimentary subscriptions to literary journals as, I assume this is the reason, I do tend to mention them on the blog quite a bit.
This at times leads to some guilt here in the deep confines of the EWN. The idea behind the network was to write about authors and books and journals that I loved, and hoped would convince others to go spend some money on as well. And now there are many things that i feel I should be supporting that I don't, monetarily at least, due the complimentary nature of those running things there.
That's not to say I don't spend way too much of my income on books and literary journals. In the case of The Cupboard, I've actually subscribed multiple times - that is, I have tried to subscribe WHILE I ALREADY HAD AN ONGOING SUBSCRIPTION. That should give you an idea of how much I like what the folks behind The Cupboard are doing.
I first heard of these wonderful, quarterly, single-author books (or literary journals - that's up in the air) when J.A. Tyler was my HTML Giant Secret Santa two years ago. He ordered me a subscription and I received the first work, Jesse Ball's Parables & Lies right away. It looked cool but was set aside in a pile of books where it quickly was lost as out of sight (these are not huge books, 3" x 5" would be my guess). It really wasn't until the third book, Mathias Svalina's Play, that I took the time to read the words inside and not just admire the objects. And it was damn good. I quickly went back and read the other two as well.
At this point, I'd forgotten that J.A. had sent me the gift subscription and, wanting to help ensure that this cool (and excellently followed through) idea would survive, I subscribed. My guess is that the folks behind The Cupboard thanked me and let me know that this would start up at issue 5 and go through issue 8. Seems like the sort of thing they'd do. However, by the time I'd received issue 5, and saw that the next booklet would be from Joshua Cohen, I'd again lost track of when my (original) subscription had begun, and completely forgotten I had subscribed on my own. I subscribed, again. This time I know I got an email asking me if this meant that I wanted two copies of each issue, or to tack on four more issues after the 8th issue I currently was subscribed through. I opted for the latter and can't wait, not that issue 7 has published and arrived in my mailbox, for the next five books.
Amanda Goldblatt's Catalpa: this is not true, is issue 7 and it arrived earlier today - perfect timing and size as I was running out on two errands that would have me standing in lines. Nothing better than a small book to take with me for just such instances.
I had to stop myself from reading this book out loud, as Goldblatt has an incredible rhythm to her sentences (okay, I didn't stop myself, I looked like a 2nd grader mouthing out words while I was reading in these lines).
You were out of oatmeal so eating donuts. Plain glazed the least ostentatious of the bunch brought along with the rest in a greasy paper box by our boss. There were Germans watching you work. She is waiting and remembering: burying rabbits in the backyard that were dead to begin with and she is thinking: people eat rabbits but people will not eat these rabbits. She had never seen maggots like that before. You will never see maggots like this. She dug the holes shallow but large enough for the bodies, holes all in a row as if she were planting a small crop of the type of thing you'd have to chase rabbits away from. The bodies are sliced cleanly pelt falls from muscle. You were then in the hangar yelling, Power On!, training the currents, and eating the donuts--let's doughnut--with the Germans and sweating the sugar you swear you can feel it the granules in your arm sweat and though she doesn't believe you at first after you arrive to the porch and you're in the bed she will taste it on your skin.
As their website notes:
The best way to enjoy The Cupboard pamphlet is to get each volume delivered to your home every thirteen weeks. Click on the Paypal button below to subscribe to The Cupboard. Subscriptions cost $15 for one year (4 volumes). International subscriptions are $20.
They are doing excellent work and while I generally try to spread, well the wealth seems a ridiculous choice of phrase, but the bit of money that I spend on literature, I'm pretty happy that I lost track and furthered my subscription to The Cupboard.