Dear Friend of Good Literature,
The 20th century saw a remarkable renaissance in what critics call "faith-infused fiction" or “literature of belief”: Graham Greene, Muriel Spark and Evelyn Waugh in the UK; Leon Bloy, Francois Mauriac, and Bernanos in France; Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, and J.F. Powers in the United States—to name just a few giants. We love these writers, read them, and are deeply indebted to them (for goodness' sake, our press takes its name from Flannery's first novel). Yet conversations about faith and culture have often wound dizzying circles around them, in part because many do not know where else to turn. In Paul Elie's New York Times article "Has Fiction Lost its Faith?" he asks “Where has the novel of belief gone?” For years we have been fast on the trail of an emerging "literature of belief”—consider, in addition to works published and championed by our better-known friends at Image and Dappled Things, just these few titles by Nick Ripatrazone, Brian Jobe, and Uwem Akpan—and if our first year's publishing catalogue is any indication, the renaissance of literature by writers of faith is here.
Rooted in the tradition of O'Connor and other “Golden Age” greats, Wiseblood Books is forging a new idiom in faith-fueled literature without shrinking into the "ghetto" of Christian culture. We publish works that find redemption in uncanny places and people; wrestle us from the tyranny of boredom; mock the pretensions of respectability; engage the hidden mysteries of the human heart, be they sources of either violence or courage; articulate faith and doubt in their incarnate complexity; and suffer through this world's trials without forfeiting hope. Within the first year of our existence we will have published six original works of fiction, including Micah Cawber's The Unfinished Life of N. , Amy Krohn's A Flower in the Heart of the Painting, Holy Cross professor Lee Oser’s second novel, The Oracles Fell Silent, Robert Vander Lugt's short story collection Sand, Smoke, Current, and Geoffrey Smagacz's A Waste of Shame and Other Sad Tales of the Appalachian Foothills (the first chapter of which was nominated for the Pushcart Prize). The 2014 publication calendar is expanding in production and genre: Elena Maria Vidal's historical novel The Paradise Tree; F.J. Rocca's Master of Wednesday Night; a cinematic play by Christopher Yates; and Charles Hughes' poetry collection Cave Art.
Launching and sustaining a small press requires a fortitude that borders on pigheaded stubbornness. It means countless late nights at the desk, as well as a dangerous willingness to take risks so that brilliant new books may be brought into being. While Wiseblood Books has so far been able to create and distribute rich, well-reviewed books on a tiny budget, your support will help keep us independent and vital. Our immediate goal is to raise $33,000 to support our efforts at reviving a literature that speaks to the soul in our time. Your gift will help us to remunerate the cover artists and bring aboard some of the best editors in the milieu, will help us to promote, print, and distribute both our original titles and our growing library of classics (including works by Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky, Plato and Cather, Henry James and Gogol). Supporting a small press is a gravity-defying kindness but it is also a sort of necessity; without your donations we will simply be unable to forge a timely yet enduring idiom in the literature of belief. Support us with a “Wiseblood Widow's Mite” of $5; a “Wiseblood Wiseguy/gal” gift of $25; a “Wiseblood Book Hound” gift of $50-99; or a “Wiseblood Seraphim” gift of $100-$300. Donors who give $333 (or more) will be dignified with immense title of “Wiseblood Caesar” and will receive the entire catalogue of Wiseblood originals. Remember, the culture you save may be your own.
With profound thanks,
Joshua Hren, Ph.D.
PO Box 11612 | Milwaukee, WI 53211
P.S. Please share this with any and all who may be interested . . .
The late James Laughlin’s publishing house, New Directions, is the standard at the moment for contemporary fiction. When you see ND on the spine, you know that you’re getting a solid work that is actively engaged with contemporary literary concerns. It is still too early to tell what will become of the upstart Wiseblood Books, but such a strong entry as this early on is a sign that it is heading in the right direction.
—From M.A. Peterson's review of Wiseblood Books' forthcoming
A Waste of Shame and Other Sad Tales of the Appalachian Foothills