PORTLAND-BASED book and notebook manufacturer Scout Books is best known for making little blank notebooks for you to scribble your feelings into. Everyone once in a while, though, they delve into publishing, putting out pocket-sized fiction and nonfiction chapbooks printed on their signature tiny notebooks.
Some of the books feature excerpts from public-domain titles by writers like Virginia Woolf and Jack London; others are food-and-drink themed. (Maybe you've seen Chomp!, the three-part series featuring interviews and recipes from Portland chefs, or The Cocktail Hour collection, in which each volume of drink recipes is organized around your spirit of choice.) Not only are the books useful, portable, and fun to read, they double as marketing materials for Scout Books' product. Clever, yes?
Last year, in one of the more charming collaborations in town—and yes, we remember that Salt & Straw/beer-flavored ice cream situation—Scout partnered with local experimental/literary small press Future Tense Publishing for a series of quick reads curated by Future Tense publisher Kevin Sampsell. Round two of the series is upon us, with the release of three tiny new titles: Chelsea Hodson's Pity the Animal, Jay Ponteri's Darkmouth Strikes Again, and May-Lan Tan's Girly.
Ponteri, who picked up an Oregon Book Award this year for his memoir Wedlocked, offers a predictably self-lacerating essay on fatherhood, shame, and failure; while Chelsea Hodson's Pity the Animal takes a clear-eyed look at what it means to straddle the line between woman and object. May-Lan Tan's Girly is my favorite of the three: In two deceptively short stories, Tan explores sisterhood, motherhood, and mental illness. The stories are just a few pages each, and what she leaves out is just as revealing as what she includes.
The books are available at Powell's; you can also find 'em at a release party at Valentine's on Sunday, July 20, which promises readings from Ponteri and New Yorker Hodson, who's in town for Tin House's Summer Writer's Workshop; author Patrick deWitt will also be on hand for a reading, plus music from Dragging an Ox Through Water.