The Blog

New Atticus: Ready to Kick Ample Derriere

AtticusMADISON, NJ — Many exciting things are happening at the press and they are a true north departure from business as usual. When I conceived Atticus Books five years ago, I maintained that we would focus on debut novelists whose compelling narratives and memorable main characters channeled the spirit of Harper Lee and Atticus Finch.

Atticus has stayed true to that mission and published the full-length works of more than a dozen new and emerging writers. In addition, we have produced books by previously published authors such as Steven Gillis (The Law of Strings), Colin Winnette (Fondly), and Nathan Leslie (The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice).

In all Atticus now has thirteen novels in its catalogue, plus five story collections and one anthology, a collective history of the American literary magazine (Paper Dreams).

Since 2010 we have gradually earned a reputation as a quirky fiction house, a moniker that we wear with pride, but it doesn’t encompass the many poems, essays, book reviews, and mixed media presentations our editors have curated at Atticus Review, our weekly online journal.

In 2015 I embrace the idea of Atticus becoming a publisher that defies description. Not because we’ve lost sense of our place in the small press universe but rather because we now have the desire to set forth on a new path, one that we will carve out with intent and purpose.

This summer Atticus will embark on three major initiatives that reflect a fundamental shift from our publishing house’s original mission:

1) We will publish our first memoir.

2) We will create a digital sports lit magazine.

3) We will cover the 2016 presidential campaigns, primaries, and election.

When I look at these initiatives, I notice a common thread. All three are far removed from the pages of make-believe. In fact, each area of coverage is entrenched in the headlines of reality. However, none is far removed from what Atticus set out to do from Day 1:

Support writers whose inventive work we want others to read.

Support writers whose inventive work we want others to read.

This will be our mantra.

Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, MaybeOur first memoir, Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe (Aug. 4, 2015), is a young mother’s arduous journey to find her birth mother.

People often ask what attracts me to a specific title. What distinguishes one work from another? There’s no science to my selection method, but Belief engages me on a few levels. First and foremost, I’ve wanted to publish a book by Lori Jakiela since I first became acquainted with her writing. She has a voice that resonates in my soul and reminds me of other writers (e.g., Anne Lamott) whose powerful, humanistic narratives have stood the test of time.

I also dedicate the publication of Belief to my daughter, Gwynne, whom my wife and I adopted at age two from an orphanage in Romania in April 1999. Belief is a book that speaks to me as an adoptive parent. I’ve always accepted that Gwynne, now eighteen years of age, someday may want to trace the roots of her own life and heritage.

Finally, my hope is that Belief may offer a comforting companion to readers who struggle to cope with the universal challenges of self-identity. May you never feel alone.

Basketball team (circa 1920s)

Like Writing? Like Sports?

I’m a former athlete (yes, definitely former) and ex-sportswriter who has continued a lifelong love affair with sports. No matter how much I get wrapped up in other matters, sports has been one of the few constants in my life and created a lasting fiber between my father and me.

As a young reader and burgeoning writer I read a wide array of literature, but I religiously read the sports pages and the writing of Roger Kahn, Roger Angell, Dick Young, Peter Golenbock, and Mike Celizic.

All of them approached sportswriting as a finely honed craft. These diligent and often no-frills sports columnists were hardly interested at all in scoreboard results. They were more fascinated by what made an athlete tick. Like all great journalists, they dug deep under the surface and provided a character study with every profile, and a plot development with every shift in game action.

They were the color commentators of my childhood and I owe the concept of More Than Sports Talk to them. These were writers who taught me to appreciate the command of words and the beauty of the English language.

My goal is to make MTST a digital magazine dedicated to raising the level of discourse about sports. MTST‘s purpose is to honor the rich tradition and cultural significance of sports by harnessing the power of creative sportswriting.

MTST plans to:

• Deliver narrative threads and storylines that reach far outside the foul lines and well beyond the playing field.
• Publish artfully told works by writers who exhibit a skill for off-center storytelling, colorful human interest features, and compelling nonfiction.
• Profile the present and past lives of people involved in sports including athletes and non-athletes at every level.
• Celebrate the history and diversity of sports.

I would like More Than Sports Talk to become an online community of writers, general interest readers, and sports fans who are interested in the role that sport plays in our lives, whether it is instrumental or minimal, inspiring or exploitative, unifying or divisive.

MTST will embrace the ambition of reintroducing the fine art of sportswriting into the mainstream. Every issue should produce at least one piece of literature that examines the many factors that compel us to compete and drive us to be such fiercely loyal fans or detractors.

MTST aspires to entertain, amuse, and provoke. It is a tip of the hat to the greats and a left hook to the side of the wide wonder of sports and its intersection with commerce, culture, and humanity.

Writers and budding sports columnists, submit your work here. Moreover, follow @MoreThanSportsT on Twitter to watch this monthly pub unfold.

Atticus on the Trail

What Would a Born-and-Bred Hoosier Gonzo Journalist Do?

I’ve always fantasized about what it might be like to be Hunter S. Thompson. I now to get to live vicariously through the efforts of Atticus author Jared Yates Sexton (An End to All Things). Shortly after the AWP Conference dust settled, Jared approached me with the idea of covering the ’16 presidential campaign and election, and I bit. I mean, I really bit hard.

Jared is an amazing writer and I am grateful to present his series of bullshit-detecting dispatches from the Capitol. Seriously, this blog is going to kick ample derriere these next several months. You really need to pay attention. Your entertainment quota–not to mention our children’s future–may just depend on it.

About Dan Cafaro

Dan Cafaro is the founder and publisher of Atticus Books, a small press based in Madison, N.J. When Dan is not following his wife around the country, he is known to sit for long periods of time pondering how to live off the grid. Atticus Review is his first literary journal.

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