Read It And Weep

What to look out for at London’s Uncorrected Independent Publishers’ Fair this weekend
By Bailey Slater | Art | 8 June 2022

Still, ‘Beavis and Butthead’

Indie publishing is an art form that continues to thrive. Despite critics and analysts speaking with sheer certainty of print’s death for years now, independent publications are proving the opposite. In fact, they’re multiplying and creating with a steadfast spirit, slotting into well-connected publishing networks or even flying their own flags, one issue at a time.

Tangerine Press is one such publisher, preserving the legacy of tangible titles with the fifth iteration of The Uncorrected Independent Publishers’ Fair (TUIPF). Taking place on June 11th as part of the Camberwell Arts Festival, the fair offers poetry, prose, fiction and captivating photography books from some of the UK’s most innovative print-houses, with the promise of hardback limited editions, artist books and screen-prints also available for perusal under one cosy roof.

“It isn’t a stuffy hall!” jokes its founder, Michael Curran, of his return to the festival. Curran joins seven other indie presses at the event, where stalls sit alongside readings from authors and poets, live podcast performances and acoustic sets by rising musical newcomers like Lilies in my Brain – “all the while you can browse at your leisure through the stunning selection of books on sale, at special event prices,” Curran continues, “And it’s free!”

Ahead of TUIPF’s fifth, highly-anticipated iteration, we take a look at the prose each publishing house has chosen to spotlight in their valiant mission to propel the written word.

Tangerine Press

Michael Curran founded his legacy publisher in 2006, though it wouldn’t be until after his retirement from the building trade in 2013 that he could give Tangerine his full attention. Curran’s expertise in writing, which dates back to the late nineties, has allowed him to reach writers on the fringe of society, arming him with an eclectic mix of written works that shock and surprise in equal measure – his dabbling in vintage pornography sometimes doing both at the same time – but really, it’s the written word that he finds most arresting. 

At TUIPF, Tangerine Press let us know they’ve been thoroughly enjoying Never Mind, Comrade, Claudia Bierschenk’s 88-page memoir on coming of age in the GDR. The book is a sometimes intense and shockingly real account of life behind the Iron Curtain told from the perspective of a hopeful child that has been half-translated, half-rewritten from Land ohne Verben, Bierschenk’s original text. Those suspected moments of despair are par for the course, included amongst descriptions of pervasive ideologies and restrictions, but Bierschenk’s work also gives way to humour, curiosity and even magic as she and her family dream of life’s many possibilities following the fall of the Berlin Wall.



Rough Trade Books

Using a pre-existing mould that has helped break some of the biggest names in music (The Smiths, Parquet Courts, The Strokes, Goat Girl, The Raincoats, to name a few), Rough Trade have applied the same tenacity and radicality to showcasing the musings of contemporary writers. From deep-dive’s into the sonic genius of Enya, to long-form poetic tales composed by PJ Harvey, one title catching our eye ahead of the festival is Sheena Patel’s I’m A Fan. Violence, politics, sex, tenderness and humour all coalesce in this poignant struggle for power – a.k.a. navigating love and friendships. So get ready to devour a twisted romance of sorts, one that requires glasses rather than tissues.




Lucy Mercer’s debut poetry collection is a standout offering from Prototype, the four-year-old publishing house founded by Jess Chandler. Committed to spotlighting new and experimental voices in free-form contemporary literature, Mercer steps up to the plate with a collection of works that take us to another dimension, using 16th-century writer and emblematist Andrea Alciato as her blueprint. Emblem not only defies a linear timeline, it also embraces all that is liminal, with Mercer flitting between opposing sides of life – from public to private, past and present, young and old – with spellbinding ease, musing over motherhood and faith with a vast mixture of symbols and text. We’re not saying you’ll never be the same once you get to the back page, but… you’ll never be the same once you get to the back page.




Ever feel nervous that the superpowers that be might not be our best friends in war? Well, Owen Hatherley’s Artificial Islands won’t do much to quell your concerns, but, through the architectural lens of British history, Hatherley does tease the idea of a new super-nation, formed with settlers that once made a trip across the transatlantic to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The irony that we are just a year or so fresh out of another, geographically-immediate, union, is certainly not lost on the author, but the book lends itself to the Repeater spirit of imagining new realities in every sphere and genre, doubling as a critique of the British Empire’s violent and gluttonous history in world politics. Has the tiny island we currently inhabit changed for the better? And is there any reason why these far-off lands should want to unite again with us? Find out on page 350.



flipped eye

An era-defining Latinx voice, Katherine Lockton’s debut, Paper Doll, still continues to make waves in the publishing world two years after it was first printed. In 2020, she joined flipped eye, the innovative poetry establishment that has spent the better part of two decades revolutionising the written word with groundbreaking pamphlets and novel newsletters (a pretty ingenious way of reaching the masses in 2005) that constantly aim to push the boundaries of communication. Paper Doll itself is a document of not only existence but also survival, a guide to life that doesn’t spare you a rough ride as you travel cover to cover, immersing yourself in its many, vivid stories. Think of it like a gripping composition, where the tantalising highs and crashing lows of this conductor never seem to cease, her arms in a perpetual, controlled flail.



Les Fugitives

Eccentricity is an enigma that’s hard to pin down, usually seen before it’s heard, spoken not as a conversation but as a grand tale of folklore. Erica Van Horn manages to give it a well-spelt history in We Still Have The Telephone, her tale of a contrasting mother-daughter duo. As larger-than-life emotion also dwells beside madness, Horn provides fascinating insight into a life lived outside the parameters of society, of style that cannot be taught and of vibrancy that cannot be contained, from the perspective of another who could only hope to exist there. Jonathan Gibbs, author of The Large Door, said of the work: “It’s placid, careful and caring, only ever distantly ironic. Like Lydia Davis, but played straight, without the need to interrogate every word, every phase.”



Strange Attractor

London’s vast history is its charm and undeniable calling card (it’s certainly not the rent that’s keeping us here). It’s made us all wonder if we’d ever have got the chance to club it up with nightlife legends like Leigh Bowery, be cool enough to snag some contorted S&M masterpiece from Vivienne Westwood’s SEX shop, or perhaps more banally, if the Bakerloo line trains have ever looked new. While Phil Baker’s Strange Attractor – City of the Beast doesn’t offer answers to many of those questions, it does embark on its own twisted tour of the city, uncovering a street by street history of prostitutes and addicts, criminals and spiritualists, bohemians and grafters, of which, occultist Aleister Crowley knows all. From Piccadilly to Battersea, Baker digs deep, mapping out the life of the controversial figure as it plays out in a rapidly-changing capital city filled to the brim with sin.

The Uncorrected Independent Publishers’ Fair takes place on Saturday 11th June at Peckham Pelican.

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