Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mainstay Press

For some time now I've been meaning to write about Mainstay Press, and I have to apologize for taking so long to get to it because as far as I can tell this is a unique publisher whose mission should be of interest to red readers and writers. That mission, as I understand it, is to publish explicitly political left fiction that speaks to the here and now, that is, the issues and struggles, the challenges and responsibilities, that constitute the context of our daily lives. For the most obvious example, the Iraq war, in which almost no mainstream publishers seem to be interested. Mainstay, in contrast, has published Homefront by Tony Christini, which is the first of a projected trilogy.Mainstay has published three other books. Two novels: Short Order Frame Up by Ron Jacobs, blurbed by Dave Zirin, author of A People's History of Sports in the United States, as "a great anti-racist novel," and Point of No Return by Andre Vltchek, the story of a war correspondent's perspective about "the pitiful state of today's world." And one non-fiction book, also by Vltchek: Western Terror--from Potosi to Baghdad.

Vltchek and Christini co-founded Mainstay in 2005. My guess is that, as has been the case at so many independents, the original impetus was to get their own work into print, in this case after having no doubt found most doors closed to them as political writers. That they've managed to keep the press going, and in fact branched out a bit, is amazing given all the obstacles, financial and otherwise, that I'm sure they've faced.

In addition to book publishing, since 2007 Mainstay has also put out Liberation Lit, an online journal. There you'll find work by an impressive roster of artists, including Arundhati Roy, Adetokunbo Abiola, Marge Piercy, Margaret Randall, Adrienne Rich, and an amazing array of international talent unlike anything I've seen anywhere else. A print anthology is in the works. The sweep is stunning. I'm looking forward to holding this volume in my hands. (I've had the privilege of seeing the list of contributors because I'm one of them!)

Mainstay's Tony Christini also has a blog called A Practical Policy that's worth visiting. It's an unusual mix of links, political commentary, literary analysis, and occasional short fiction, often of a satiric bent. And it ranges the world, the so-called Third World in particular, which I very much appreciate, and which is rare in U.S. lit blogging.

All in all, there is good work being done here. How refreshing.