Among Granary’s many titles was At a Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing: 1960-1980. Based on a 1998 exhibition at the New York Public Library and co-edited by Clay and Rodney Phillips, who was the curator of the library’s Berg Collection at the time, the book, to quote its description, “documents a period of intense exploration and experimentation in American writing and literary publishing.” It serves as “a monumental catalog, especially considering the ephemerality of the mimeo publications and their histories.”
A little magazine I had done in the late-’60s, The San Francisco Earthquake, was mentioned in it with an illustration, but didn’t get much attention. I don’t think it was a matter of geography. I think it was just an oversight, because there are dozens of major entries for little mags — mimeos and otherwise, as well as small literary presses — that were based in far-flung places like Tulsa, Oklahoma (Ron Padgett’s White Dove Review); Mexico City (Margaret Randall’s El Corno Emplumado); Gloucester, Massachusetts (Gerrit Lansing’s SET); Paris (John Ashbery’s Art and Literature); Banalbufar, Mallorca (Robert Creeley’s Divers Press); Bolinas, California (Bill Berkson’s Big Sky). And of course it included a ton of fugitive New York City poetry rags. Maybe Clay was making up for the oversight.
My Adventures in Fug Lit is subtitled “How I got to San Francisco” (TRUE), clerked at City Lights (TRUE), started a little magazine (TRUE), published William Burroughs (TRUE), and landed in Vermont (TRUE) as editor in chief of Something Else Press.” (AGAIN TRUE). Granary’s description says it “provides a vivid first-person account (SO TRUE!) of Jan Herman’s years in the small press underground of the sixties and seventies” (TRUE), that Earthquake and my Nova Broadcast Press “published Beat, post-beat and Fluxus writers and artists” (TRUE), that I was “editor in chief of Something Else Press” (TRUE), and that the book “is illustrated throughout with color photographs and reproductions.” (BEAUTIFULLY TRUE!) If you’d like to order a copy, go to granarybooks.com, but don’t forget to select “wrappers” (the trade paperback). For anyone who wants to buy a deluxe signed/numbered copy, you’re out of luck. Those babies are “sold out.” (TRUE)
One thing to remember: Fug Lit is based on a presentation I tailored to an audience of Burroughs fans, many of them academic specialists and book collectors. So, though “vivid,” my memoir may seem a bit technical for a general audience. There is nothing in it about addiction (except to language), 12-step programs for alcoholics, treatment programs for drug abusers, cures for sexual maladies, or rock stars in recovery. The tale starts like this: