Atticus Books is a small publishing company that started in 2010 “Where distinct voices become legend.” It is the perfect niche for charm and quirks in the literary community and is located in Madison, New Jersey. In their mission statement, they state that they aim to “To produce and disseminate work that transcends literary circles and touches the wider culture.” They have altogether published 19 books since 2010, the latest being Armageddon, Texas. Interview with Dan Cafaro at Atticus Books
What inspired you to enter the publishing world? Was there a specific writer or book?
The trade publishing world is a vortex—you don’t really enter it as much as get sucked into it with a forceful pull. I’ve tried the path of least resistance, working a corporate job instead of slumming for the arts. But truth eventually bears out your soul’s intent. Mine is a bottomless addiction to creative writing and the dissemination of books. My dedication to indie literature is driven by the whirlwind of imagination that daily fills my Atticus in-box with queries and manuscripts.
What triggered this desire to join the publishing fray?
I can’t really say. It certainly was not one writer or book that introduced me to this galaxy. As a former bookseller, my inoculation came in the form of every book—both large press and small—that passed through my hands into the hands of an eager reader. I was inspired by the sharing of knowledge and the consumption of forbidden fruits, the discovery of diamonds in the rough that no one else in my life seemed to know.
As an aspiring writer I cut my teeth on several chewing toys including the books of New Directions and Black Sparrow Press, the then-upstart literary magazine Glimmer Train, and the bohemian offerings of Evergreen Review, a literary magazine founded by Barney Rosset, publisher of Grove Press. I remember holding Evergreen in my hands, marveling at its content, and thinking, “how can I make something like this?” I may have wanted my writings to appear in Glimmer Train (although, sadly, I never submitted any work), but I subconsciously knew that if I ever formed a press, it would take on the celestial juices of those underground luminaries from the 1950s and ’60s. And, amazingly, New Directions dates back to the ’30s!
I admire how you created your own press. I think that many people in F.U.S.E. would be interested in learning more about that process. Could you tell me a little bit about how you started the press?
It all started with a blog. I was clueless about blogging and was very late at adapting to the practice or paying much attention to what was happening within the blogosphere of literary websites. I seriously had no idea what I was doing … until I began attending small press book fairs in NYC and asking questions. Lots of questions. And even then as I got my footing I felt like a lost voice in a massive wilderness of people who were way more talented than me. I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted Atticus to be a platform for my own work or for others, but as it began to take shape and hundreds of writers started contacting me about the prospects of Atticus publishing their work, it struck me like a lightning rod to the forehead that these were my