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Meeting Adrian Searle

November 8th, 2012 | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment »
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The Visiting Speaker on 4th October was Adrian Searle, editor of the leading Scottish literary magazine Gutter and publisher at Freight Books. He gave a brief account of his previous career in the publishing field and a description of the projects he is currently working on.

The first publication Adrian described is a collection of short stories: The Hope That Kills Us, An Anthology of Scottish Football Fiction (2002). He came up with this idea in 2001, when he decided to undertake a commissioning project to raise a profile as a publisher. So, with the collaboration of a number of Scottish writers and a photographer, he worked as the editor of this publication. The market of this book was wide enough, from sportsmen to their relatives, and the book sold a thousand copies in paperback all across Scotland.

As the second example of publication, Adrian presented a fascinating book: The Knuckle End (2004). One of the peculiarities of this work is the design: the book appears as two pocket hardback books connected by the cover. The first book is an anthology of stories written by postgraduate students (2003-2004) of the noted Creative Writing course of the University of Glasgow. The text is organized in two columns on each page, and they are reproduced slightly skewed. The typography is completely left to the Victorian master class standard (elaborated types based on traditional letterforms). The second book is a love story shaped as a collection of photos, of self indulgent nature and wrapped in a vernacular typography.

Afterwards, Adrian talked about Gutter. There are few places where authors can publish short stories in Scotland. The aim of Gutter is to fill this lack of outlets and to provide the readers with high quality stories written by Scottish authors (or writers who have a connection to Scotland). The magazine has a taste of old-fashioned literary magazines, there is great care in the use of the typography, and there are no images (except for some cartoons). The magazine is meant to be a beautiful physical object, so there is not an electronic version of the magazine.

Adrian started Freight Books to extend his publishing work from Gutter to a wider selection of writers and audiences. The main characteristic of Freight Books is the size: being small and independent, it is much quicker than bigger publishing houses at undertaking new projects. Also, the titles selection is more balanced on the quality of the products rather than big profits. The second characteristic is the book choice, mostly contemporary fiction, and the high standards of the texts.

The publishing house aims to release from 10 to 15 books every year. The authors of these publications are debuts, writers who were formerly published in Gutter, and some other writers with a British-Scottish background. He went through a long list of titles that Freight Books has published in the last few years: Killing the Messenger (2011) by C.  Wallace, Furnace (2012) by W. Price, Ramshackle (2012) by E. Reeder, Tip Tap Flat: A View of Glasgow (2012) by L. Welsh, My Gun Was As Tall As Me (2012) by T. Davidson, All the Little Animals (2012) by W. Hamilton and S. Howell, Healing of Luther Grove (2012) by B. Gornell. Then, he told us about a few other titles which are going to be published in the next few months including 101 Uses of a Dead Kindle by A. Searle himself and J. Hastie (8 Oct 2012), and Fabulous Beast by P. Ace (Spring 2013).

I really admire the work of this publisher which is driven by a genuine interest in books and their authors. Adrian described in great detail every feature of the books he edited, with special attention to their look and feel. The authors, also, had been referred to with the greatest esteem during his speech, in an interesting combination of respect and friendship.