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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Absurd Publications pushes full steam ahead

In May, the new student-run press Absurd Publications had yet to print a book. Four months later, it’s sitting on a monthly reading series at The Avid Reader, a self-printed anthology titled “All the Vegetarians in Texas Have Been Shot,” two prints of a small creative journal titled “The Oddity” and radio airtime on Capital Public Radio’s “Insight.”
“When we first began, we had grand plans: a final printed book to be sold in bookstores, a place in which to host our own readings, a connection enough with the community to publish a monthly journal — a sort of ‘mini-anthology,’” said Evan White, co-founder of Absurd Publications. “And, in every case, we’ve been successful. I don’t pretend to know how any of it happened.”
Other co-founder of Absurd Publications Corey La Rue said the press was conceived at UC Davis.
“It was a community project really — born in the hot halls of Voorhies last year in a poetry class taught by Dr. [Andy] Jones,” La Rue said. “That class really changed everything, and we took away a lot with us. One day I approached Evan after class at a Starbucks and was like, ‘Hey you wanna start a press?’ and the rest is history.”

The entire process has not been an easy one, according to White and La Rue. They realized early on that making the books would be taxing, both mentally and financially. In fact, after all the equipment had been bought, the company only had $20 left of their seed money.

Absurd Publications is currently run entirely in the apartment that La Rue and White share together, with a steady stream of friends helping to smooth out any bumps they may encounter along the way.

Though White and La Rue had come into the business imagining that they wouldn’t turn any profit, time has shown that there may just be a little gold in it after all.
“In the beginning we told ourselves, ‘We’re making a book of short fiction, which there’s almost no money in. We’re also going to include poetry too, which there is no money in,’” White said.
Much of the money is going toward continuing the publication.

“[We] haven’t made enough to pay rent,” La Rue said. “Rather, we’re using all resources to re-invest and to continue to publish and cause some chaos.”

La Rue and White haven’t been doing it alone, however. In terms of staffing, Absurd Publications also has Valerie Palomo as secretary and CFO, Joe Nijmeh as an official photographer and Eric Crowl as outreach. Another source that has been helping them every step of the way has been Dr. Andy Jones, whom White calls his mentor and La Rue looks to as his therapist.

“Obviously, as a doting uncle, I’m really proud of them and impressed with how much that they’ve done,” Jones said. “And they may call me a source of mentorship or therapy or whatever the case may be, but largely it comes out of the drive of these two folks.”

Jones goes on to credit Davis’ unique climate in which student’s are endowed with a greater degree of autonomy to pursue their own goals.

“There’s an important sort of self-reliance that we really expect from our students at UC Davis,” Jones said.

The final surprise is how well the books are doing themselves. The anthology “All the Vegetarians in Texas Have Been Shot” has sold 40 prints in less than a month. There are currently 10 prints left.

In the future, Absurd Publications is looking toward expansion. Their book is available at The Avid Reader and has recently been added to permanent stock. White and La Rue are also looking into selling it at broader outlets like Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

The third edition of their creative journal, “The Oddity,” has been printed and is available free of charge on their website www.absurdword.com.

“In the case of ‘The Oddity,’ we didn’t want to put a price tag on it,” La Rue said. “It limits the audience because some people may not be willing to fork over a dollar and others may not even have a dollar.”

ANDREW POH can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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