Under the Volcanoes - an inside architecture of a new publication by Alex Latter of Grapsas press

One of the many beautiful things I brought back with me from Mexico city at the end of 2013 was a brand new collaboration with Holly pester, someone whose work Ive respected for years, and whom Id become associated with through my events but never actually written / performed with. We rectified that in Mexico, sharing stage for over an hour, and writing Under the Volcanoes, a work of pure, warped homage to Malcolm Lowry, who hung over my every perception of Mexico having read Under the Volcano, Lunar Caustic and his others works stuck on a bus in Croatia many years before. Holly read the book in Mexico and we fused our responses into a dialogue text that takes found lines and new lines and disjunctions and exchanges and soups them. When we returned, with a text over around 200 exchanges, Alex Latter was kind enough to support us in developing a boutique 2014 publication of the work, using the Bodleian press of all things, through his Grapsas imprint. The collaboration is to be published as a unique pocketed, jacketed, filleted objet d'art, and recently Alex was kind enough to send out some notes on the process, which are of real interest I believe, so Ive posted some below:

"i’ve worked out the setting i’ll be using—it’s about 14 lines per page, and they’ll be printed landscape. the lines, especially steven’s, are quite long, and i wanted to preserve their length rather than cramp them up over several line-breaks.

i took the first imprint of the first full page of type i’ve set. i thought originally that have the text on the verso page right-aligned and recto left-aligned would look quite good, as the lines would then look like they’re running into and out of the gutter respectively. i was also hoping it might achieve a visual effect equivalent to the craggy geology of central mexico—my memory of flying into mexico city was the mountains and volcanoes (and also my brother projectile vomiting over the three rows in front of him). 

however, i didn’t think this effect worked very well: this was what the first impression looked like:

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i think the effect is lost in the length of the lines: it might have worked better if the lines were shorter, but the effect is too diffuse and not like the igneous crush i was hoping for.

also, as you can see from this, typesetting throws up all sorts of interesting language problems because of foul casing (i.e. the wrong letters in the wrong part of the font). my favourite here is ‘some horribble disasher’, closely followed by ‘founber and fail’. this sort of mis-reading/setting reminded me a bit of that poem you had in ‘here comes everyone’ anthology, holly. and also the fact that the line at the end of othello—‘like the base indian who grew away a pearl richer than all his tribe’—is given as ‘base judean’ in some texts, because of a foul-cased ’u’. it’s like the language keeps wanting to escape being set down, right until the very last moment.

sbut i reset it from the left anyway, and it now looks like this:


i’ve left an em-space at the beginning of each run-on line, which i think draws attention to the text’s reiterations, without it being catechistic.

so having worked out that setting, i’m expecting the full text to come in at around 23-24 pages. (13 for steven’s, 8 for holly’s)

this is a very large project for this kind of type-setting. i’m going to suggest that i print it into two volumes, as this will make the project quicker and also resolve the logistical problems of setting this number of pages."