The Improbable, Issue No. 1: a miscellany

News, News Section

October 15th, 2020

If you’ve found this page, you may already know what The Improbable is, and you’re looking for a copy! It’s free—you just have to find it. There are plenty at the Siglio pop-up at the Museum of Modern Art Store in New York City. Also, Siglio Advocates get the first two issues sent directly to them once both have been released (likely end of November, early December).

The first issue has been sent to a number of bookstores, where it is also free, but unless you can walk in and ask for it, you’ll need to order a book, and let them know you want a copy. A few stores will have it out in stack—I’ve marked those below with an asterisk. In all cases, supplies are very limited!

In California: Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes; Green Apple Books, San Francisco; East Bay Booksellers, Oakland; and Skylight Books*, Los Angeles. In Oregon: Monograph Bookwerks* and Passages Bookshop*, both in Portland. A couple of places in Texas: Marfa Book Company, Marfa (obviously) and Deep Vellum Books, Dallas. And a smattering across the country: Sweet Melissa Records, Marietta, Georgia; Woodland Pattern Book Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Brickbat Books*, Philadelphia, Pennslyvannia; Lost City Bookstore, Washington, DC; Riff Raff, Providence, Rhode Island; and Northshire Bookstore*, Manchester, Vermont. Abroad there are two places, so far: Bookartbookshop in London (one of my very favorite bookstores in the entire world) and The Printed Word Bookstore in Dundas, Ontario in Canada.

(You can also get it at the Womxn in Windows 2020 opening event on Saturday, October 17 on Chung King Road in Los Angeles—and some small press comrades will have it to send out as a little surprise with their orders.)

So what is The Improbable? It’s an occasional miscellany investigating the the rich and varied space between art and literature with an extraordinary roster of contributors: Sally Alatalo, Amanda Berenguer, Mary Ann Caws, Mónica de la Torre, Mirtha Dermisache, Dick Higgins, Lucy Ives, Wayne Koestenbaum, Richard Kraft, Ann Lauterbach. Tracie Morris, Tausif Noor, Matvei Yankelevich and Elizabeth Zuba.

Here’s the editor’s note from this first issue:

Dear Reader,

Welcome to The Improbable. This is the first issue. A second is in the works, and there may be more. It is intended as a gift.

For this issue and the next, I invited artists, writers, and scholars whom I admire to investigate the spaces between art and literature, or even simply spaces “in-between.” I encouraged play—in its most serious sense—and expansiveness, too—to go wherever their reverie took them. I suggested treatises, rants, manifestos, meditations, studies, lists, notes, but I also received a questionnaire, a novel excerpt, a film script, and a fictive dialogue. Among the luscious writings here, there are many serendipitious frictions, nodes, and (entangled, even) threads. I am giddy.

The Improbable takes its inspiration from Dick Higgins’ Something Else Newsletter just as his Something Else Press (1963-1974) is a totemic spirit for Siglio. There is quite a bit about Higgins here in this newsletter, so I’ll just say that he had little use for purity (ideological or aesthetic), the constraints of categories or linear chronologies, books as commodities, and instead cared a great deal about dialogue, flexibility, continuity, plurality, expansiveness, the misunderstood, the margins, the convergence of life and art, and the book as nexus.

If you have stumbled on The Improbable, it’s because you have connected to a book. You might not know much, or anything, about Siglio. It’s a small press I started in Los Angeles in 2008 that’s now located in the Hudson River Valley, New York. It’s dedicated to publishing wondrous, unusual, and often unwieldy books that live in the rich and varied space between art and literature (books that corporate publishing does not, perhaps cannot, even imagine). To date, Siglio has published almost forty of them, along with dozens of artist and ephemera editions, as well as this newsletter. Siglio’s manifesto “On the Small & the Contrary” is available online along with copious information about Siglio books and their artist-writer authors. I invite you to explore.

This issue was postponed by many months because of the pandemic. I knew back in March that I wanted to include this quote from Dick Higgins’ essay “A Book” (1983) as it speaks to the imagination—which gives form to the improbable. Now, more than six months later, his words are even more meaningful as we search out new shapes, new possibilities: “A book in its purest form, is a phenomenon of space and time and dimensionality that is unique unto itself. Every time we turn the page, the previous page passes into our past and we are confronted with a new world.”

—Lisa Pearson, October 1, 2020