The North Atlantic Books List 3: Other Rubrics and Themes

by Richard Grossinger on March 14, 2010

Chapter Nine
The North Atlantic Books List 3
Other Rubrics and Themes

This and the preceding and succeeding chapter (but particularly this one) have been created out of sales material written for Random House Distribution Services.  It has been impossible to “beat” the marketing tone out of it without writing a whole new document from scratch, something I am not willing to do.

1. Religion
A. Buddhism

While not a full-blooded Buddhist press like Shambhala, Snow Lion, or Wisdom, we are Buddhist in a more general way, as we try to publish compassionate, ethical, consciousness-oriented books.  We also have a small traditional Buddhist list and an entire distributed Buddhist Press, Rangjung Yeshe, so I will call out some of the highlights of these out below:

Buddhist Women on the Edge, an anthology compiled by Marianne Dresser, a former editor at North Atlantic, looks at practice from a female and feminist perspective.

It is probably the case that the Dalai Lama’s works are at market saturation, through no fault of his but because it seems as though any renderable talk or discussion is transcribed and then made into a book by a Buddhist or mainstream publisher under one popular conceit or another.  Essential Teachings is different.  Tenzin Gyatso’s first formal teaching in the West is an orthodox clarion of fierce profundity and clarity.  Originally translated from Tibetan into French and published by Albin Michel, it was discovered accidentally by Lindy and me on our one visit to Paris in 1993 when words literally got lost in translation (see “Europe Trip 1993” elsewhere on this website).

Albin Michel was only a few blocks from our hotel and, though it wasn’t on our list of publishers to visit to try to sell rights, a list culled from International Literary Marketplace, we made an appointment after passing its offices during a neighborhood walk and viewing the impressive books in the window.  We made an appointment, intending to sell rights, but we arrived to find ourselves scheduled with Albin Michel’s rights seller. So we met with her, looked over their catalogue, and ended up buying Essential Teachings, based solely on the fact that it was by the Dalai Lama—but the book was far more than either we or Albin Michel’s rights department suspected.

Back in Berkeley we not only got it translated from the French, but had scholar Stephen Goodman check it against the original Tibetan, and then our author Andrew Harvey was commissioned to write an introduction.  Andrew is actually the one who broke the news—that we had gotten, to his mind, the Dalai Lama’s purest and most traditionally Buddhist teaching before he turned into a world figure because, as Andrew put it, “the world needed a Dalai Lama even more than Tibet.”  It continues to be one of a kind, as more and more of the Dalai Lama’s words are published, because none of the other collections are likely to have this one’s singularity and ancient authenticity.

We have published two other, more typical Dalai Lama collections with less success, both also from French publishers: Beyond Dogma and Reflections from the Journey of Life. The former actually caused Tenzin Gyatso some public grief, as he was assaulted about a passage in it regarding homosexuality on a visit to San Francisco.  Liturgical orthodoxy collided here with progressive humanity, and the Dalai Lama had to do some fancy stepping at a level of subtlety that nonetheless somehow eluded his politically correcting critics.

This is how one can get blindsided when their every word becomes a spiritual commodity.  Jesus no doubt would have walked into the same ambush if everyone back then had known that he was going to be Jesus.  Or perhaps he did anyway, so only some of his so-called words are sanctioned today by his own so-called Church.

Our most significant Buddhist list includes some of the most hardcore new Tibetan writings coming out in English in the West, but it is not our own books.  It runs through us only insofar as we distribute all of Rangjung Yeshe’s publications, developed and published under the Erik and Marcia Binder Schmidt’s expert stewardship.  Rangjung Yeshe translates teachings from exiled Tibetan lamas and sages in Nepal where Erik and Marcia live most of the year.  Their thirty or so titles are considered classics, among the most genuine contemporary Tibetan Buddhist works, by serious practitioners.

Marcia and Erik think of themselves as developing non-pop, non-derivative documents, and they have tried, more or less, to avoid affiliations with the Western popularization of Buddhism.  Elucidating Dzogchen practice with landmark texts like Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s Carefree Dignity and Fearless Simplicity and Marcia’s own Dzogchen Essentials anthology, Rangjung’s titles are profound and authentic.  Their “primary source” philosophy replicates our own, although they are far more immaculate and irreproachable than we are with our galumphing mega-lists amoeba-ing all over the board.

After Rangjung lost a heap of money from the collapse of Bookpeople—its de facto distributor—M and E declined feelers of purchase of their company from various “predacious” (Marcia’s word, not mine) Buddhist suitors, preferring to make an arrangement with a neutral ally in the United States.  They enlisted us to help them because they had come to the conclusion that they needed more than just another wholesaler acting as a distributor and they did not want to risk another arrangement like what they had with Bookpeople (welcome PGW bankruptcy just a year or so later!).

Recently Marcia published her own memoir, Confessions of a Gypsy Yogini: Experience Through Mistakes, under her Buddhist name Marcia Dechen Wangmo.

Aside from Rangjung Yeshe our most notable recent Buddhist book (2011) is Presence Meditation: The Practice of Life Awareness by Jens Erik Rison.

B. Hinduism

We have a few straightforward Hindu titles, the most vital being David Frawley’s Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness. We carry nine of Robert Powell’s books—all Hindu philosophy—most of them in their native Blue Dove editions.

After a dispute with tiny Blue Dove, which seems to get in more trouble than any five full-scale publishers (and apparently lives out the law of spiritual publishing [see Chapter Six] to the hilt), Powell liberated his books and inventory in a court settlement and turned the kit and caboodle over to North Atlantic.  As the old inventory sells out, we reprint each title anew under our imprint.  The best-selling of Powell’s Blue Dove books is The Ultimate Medicine: Dialogues with a Realized Master by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (with Powell himself).

We have also published this Hindu scholar directly: Christian Zen and The Real Is Unknowable, The Knowable Is Unreal.

We have lots of additional titles in the areas of yoga, Ayurvedic medicine, and general spirituality that heavily reflect Hindu influence.  And then there is Gates of Fire, Elwyn Chamberlain’s racy novel about the marriage of spiritual epiphany and sexual debauchery in India.

C. Islam and Sufism

We published two books of Islamic writings of American engineer Henry Bayman who studied Sufism in Turkey for twenty-five years under a hidden master: The Secret of Islam: Love and Law in the Religion of Ethics and The Station of No Station: Open Secrets of the Sufis. The former addresses contemporary Islam in the light of the present Western collision with radical, politicized Islam, though in a Sufi context, as it attempts the set the record straight as to what Islam is.

We also issued Norman O. Brown’s The Challenge of Islam: The Prophetic Tradition a few years after his death through our general copublishing arrangement with New Pacific Press, an offshoot of Brown’s History of Consciousness graduate program at UC/Santa Cruz.  Thus does my old failed HissCon connection (see Chapter One) come full circle.

Pir Zia Inayat Khan, the leader of the American Sufi order established by his grandfather Hazrat Inayat Khan, is a faithful reader of my own texts, and, every year he invites Lindy and me to his center, Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, New York, on the site of an old Shaker village.  Presently Pir Zia is spearheading a nonsectarian academic program under the title Seven Pillars, somewhat parallel to Naropa Institute, the Tibetan Buddhist university in Boulder, Colorado.  Seven Pillars is divided into four branches, each with an Islamic twist: Cosmology, Mysticism, Revelation (Prophetology), and Chivalry (Sacred Action).  We have discussed doing anthologies for each of the four programs in the mode of the old Ios, in fact as an intentional Io revival in the context of the Sufi school, with Chivalry to be first: Virtues of the Code: A New Chivalry for Our Time, edited by Jennifer Alia Whitman.

Zia’s grandfather was a direct influence on Io, as I read some of his “Sufi message” books when I was in high school and college.  So this is another full-circle ripening.

Pir Zia is also working on a missive addressed to young Muslims, particularly in Pakistan, to lure them away from the madrasas, jihad, and suicide bombing, and toward Sufi inner practice, a crucial work to publish if it gets done.

We published The Voyage and the Messenger: Iran and Philosophy, a posthumous collection by the eclectic French scholar Henri Corbin for which we solicited an encyclopedic preface from anthroposophical writer Christopher Banford.  Banford’s piece makes the collection more than just a scrabble of Corbin’s minor, uncollected writings.

In the early seventies I taught Corbin’s book on Ibn Arabi in a course on Sufism at Goddard at which two of my six students were Sufis on exchange from Somalia: Abdisalam Y. Mohammed and Mohammed Abanur.  I often wonder what became of them in their failed nation.

More peripherally we issued North American editions of two Kahlil Gibran works: The Eye of the Prophet and Visions of the Prophet, not Islamic books but from somewhere amid the Middle Eastern religious melting pot.  As mentioned earlier, we ended up with an audio edition of Johnny Cash reading Gibran.

D. Judaism

We represent two mystical rabbis, Eliahu Klein and Gershon Winkler, the latter discovered by and copublished with Gabriel Cousens through Tree of Life.  Cousens is somewhat of a third rabbi with his Doctor of Divinity to go with his M.D., and his own Judaic commentary represents a landmark reclaiming of the ancient mystical doctrines: Torah as a Guide to Enlightenment.

We have published Reb Klein’s Luria Kabbalah: The Kabbalah of Creation and then his Mystical Haggadah. Most Haggadahs are relatively late, politicized texts with trappings of Zionism, nor do they provide the underlying kabbalistic symbolism based upon the traditions of the Zohar, but Eliahu’s text teaches people to conduct sacred and depoliticized seders.

Winkler is a “crazy wisdom” shamanic rabbi with three titles on our list: Magic of the Ordinary: Recovering the Shamanic in Judaism, Daily Kabbalah: Wisdom from the Tree of Life, and Travels with Evil Inclination.

We also developed Stan Tenen’s landmark work on the Hebrew alphabet and the physics and mathematics of creation for over a decade: The Alphabet That Changed the World: How Genesis Preserves a Science of Consciousness in Geometry and Gesture, a project that was first directed our way by Arthur Young, the great engineer and astrologer who founded and ran the Institute for the Study of Consciousness from his home in southeast Berkeley.

E. Christianity

We have published the ongoing works of Albert J. LaChance, a psychotherapist whose premises challenge evangelical Christianity.  So far we have put out The Modern Christian Mystic: Finding the Unitive Presence of God and The Way of Christ: The Gospel of John Through the Unitive Lens.

We have published Padma Prakasha’s Christ Blueprint and are about to issue Ellias Lonsdale’s Christ Letters in 2012.

Here is my some more text from my version of this logos transmitted by Padma and Ellias:

“Christ’s promise is not to rapture us out of the Earth but to pull us deep into Christ inside the Earth Root, to restore an inheritance that we have spurned and wasted.  It is becoming time for us to molt into a world forever just beyond our grasp, with horror and elation and rapt witnessing that at last it is happening; the long tedium and negative judgment are near their end; our doom within this reptilian, techno-robotic, nihilistic chronicle in which we have wrapped ourselves, is almost complete.  The Serpent’s ancient prowl, fated, inescapable, and assigned to us, is about to dissolve, its bias fade.  We get now to behold the specters of our own remembrance, to experience what kind of world this really is.  Unless we experience that world as it is, we cannot find Christ, ever.

“Christ doesn’t hate evil nor does he want to be identified as the ‘goodness and love’ guy, who dwells righteously in righteousness.  Evil is essential to him, for it is where he must travel to find the ticking heart of the universe, of humanity.  This is the Christ’s Passion and the ecstasy of his mortification.  In crucifixion he not only ‘died for our sins’; he found the texture of creation in his agony, a pain and debasement so exquisite that he could feel, transmute, and transmit the core meaning of existence; he could convert the age-old pretenses of pious and hedonistic obedience to the actual electrochemical pulse of love through the bodily being of God the father.

Christianity is also thoroughly laden throughout our Jungian, alchemical, and Gnostic titles like Working the Soul by Charles Poncé and Andrew Harvey’s The Return of the Mother.

F. Stone Age Religion: Shamanism

Shamanism in the larger sense imbues our list through alternative medicine, martial arts, and a crosscultural, ethnoscientific perspective.  We have also followed two major strands of regional shamanism, one Peruvian, one Mayan.  The Peruvian strand highlights ayahuasca, the spiritual and medicinal hallucinogen of the Amazon.  As noted, we initially published (and/or reissued) three books on ayahuasca by botanist F. Bruce Lamb, the mainstay of them being Wizard of the Upper Amazon, on which the movie The Emerald Forest was based.

The back story about the movie, according to our author, was that the producers approached him about purchasing the rights to Wizard; he never heard from them again.  Then the film appeared, replicating the plot of his book except for some minor nuances.  When Bruce had a lawyer approach the people with his concern, they provided the barrister with an article from a Peruvian newspaper about “another man” who was kidnapped and initiated by Amazonian Indians.  Further investigation revealed that the article was bogus, planted in the newspaper, probably with a bribe.  If all this is true, and I won’t say yea or nay, it shows a pretty much foolproof trick as to how to avoid paying for rights for a cinematic project:  Take the storyline, invent a phony news item along its themes, and plant it in the press.  Some authors would take a thing like this to the mat; Bruce just laughed.

Our main ayahuasca book came to our front door via ethnobotanist Dennis McKenna and because of our connection to Bruce (see the foreword to 2013).  When it arrived in rough draft, we couldn’t afford it but, by the time it was completed, we were ready, barely.  It manifested finally as an oversized, horizontally shaped conpendium of paintings and analysis: Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman by Luis Eduardo Luna and Pablo Amaringo.  There is no equivalent tome.  The paintings are as colorful as Paul Klee or Pablo Picasso, but they are also idiosyncratic and unique with abrupt and jagged boundaries inside them representing breaks between planes of consciousness and dimensions by their discontinuous, zigzagging borders.  Representing a distinct Amazonian iconography, they are luminous and vivid with totems, spirits, entities, and unearthly objects.  Surreal even for indigenous art, they have been borrowed to illustrate shamanic principles in diverse popular and academic works ever since our publication, the rights being purchased for one-time use.

Ayahuasca Visions was the kind of project that we were working toward from the time we red-flagged ethnobotany in our mission statement—the rediscovery and transmission of non-Western modes of knowledge, especially as they relate to plants and healing.  The publication of the book also marked a breakthrough in understanding of indigenous planetary expression, a vestige of a complex pan-Amazonian iconography inherited from ancient Peruvian tribes.  On the back cover I wrote this blurb:

“For the first time in Western book-learning, we see our fantasy of the rainforest as a Third Eye of the Earth.  A humble Peruvian initiate and painter has brought this rainbow vision of the peril, anguish, and healing power yet left in the esoteric botanical kingdom in the late twentieth century.  The false glitter of Euro-American technology palls before the sheer profundity of the spiritualized jungle.”

But this project has also had an uncomfortable Gabriel Garcia Marquez shadow side to it.  Initially I saw Luis as the culprit because we tangled with him repeatedly on subsidiary rights under the contract (who could sell what and what was owed to the partner), but the actual landscape was far more complicated than that, as you will see.

Soon after publication Luis unexpectedly brought Pablo to Berkeley and deposited him at our house for the better part of a week.  The poor man possessed not a word of English and we were unversed in Spanish.  Pablo had a purse stuffed with hundred-dollar bills from the sale of  some of his paintings at their previous stop.  We were not even sure when Luis was coming back to fetch his colleague.

Many adventures ensued with the jungle mouse in the city; what stands out in memory are vignettes: our daughter, Miranda, with her Spanish dictionary trying to communicate as though with E. T.; Pablo hiking around neighborhood backyards looking for medicinal plants (he found only one that impressed him: bear’s breech); and Pablo loose on Telegraph Avenue, scooting ahead, about to hand ciento-unit notes to vendors for amulets, as if he were in Lima with local currency.  We managed to stop him in time.  This imp-like native Peruvian was a like a clown from outer space about to be rolled on the Avenue.

A year or two after that, Luis showed up alone in Berkeley to report on a change of terms.  His sister had married the shaman, though the two had never met and would never meet—she lived in Colombia.  But they had consummated some sort of astral union.  I will not go into the legal ramifications.

After that visit the Society bought four paintings from students at Pablo’s art school for Peruvian youth (to teach painting but also appreciation and respect for the Amazon).  The donation was to help keep it running in the face of assaults by Shining Path Maoist guerrillas.  Pablo later reported through an intermediary that his nephew or stepson stole the money and, in addition that, he had gotten none of the boxes of books shipped to Pucallpa; the guerrillas took them.  He wanted to be paid all over again, in both dollars and books.  The matter was never sufficiently documented or resolved.

Later, odd pirated editions and subsidiary uses of the material began showing up throughout South America and Europe.  Occasionally these would get reported to us and, when I was able to track down the source with any success, it always seemed to the same answer: Luis was double-dealing behind our back.  But Luis denied it, sometimes accusing third parties of espionage, sometimes saying that the counterfeiters were trying to set us against each other (assertions that I have come to believe in future turns of event).  Meanwhile he had founded his own ayahuasca school in Brazil and become the resident shaman (otherwise, he taught Spanish in Finland).

In subsequent years, four or five different representatives arrived from the Amazon with radically contradictory messages from Pablo, two of them declaiming that Luis had cheated his partner and wanting us to pay him Luis’s earnings henceforth, one of them accusing us, declaring that we were cheating Pablo and that he wanted his rights back, and one of them, a local leather artisan, bearing a bound photocopy of a whole new collection of ayahuasca paintings by Pablo, supposedly under Pablo’s blessing to publish them with this guy as the author and providing, in place of Luis’ educated commentary, a totally different accompanying text.  Yet we could never contact Pablo ourselves for verification of anything; he never answered us.

The Society gave this leather gentleman a check for $3000 made out to the school to help rescue it again, this time in exchange for whatever paintings Pablo was generous enough to part with.  Two magnificent canvases returned with the emissary six weeks later, a seeming indication of authenticiity.  The book was postponed, the emissary said, until Pablo could get an agent.

A year later Pablo himself showed up in Berkeley with an American woman claiming to be his agent; he still had no English but was apparently under his own reconnaissance and steam.  According to her running translation, he now wanted more money for the paintings than he had received and also a large advance for his book, and he expected her, not the leather guy, to write it.

At least I assume that’s what he said, for she raced on at a mile a minute, as he spoke far fewer words than were rendered and smiled a lot, a smile as sunny as a proud father at the wedding of his daughter, belying the adversarial information she was delivering.  We gave him another $500; she said it wasn’t enough.  But that was that.

For a long time I had assumed Luis was in some way taking advantage of Pablo—the phantom marriage to his sister the centerpiece of some plot.  Now I’m no longer so sure.  I have come a hundred and eighty degrees around to think of Luis as the victim in a complex Peruvian world of ayahuasca capitalists and hustlers, counterfeit Pablo Amaringos, counterfeit paintings, and rank commoditization under a veil of sanctimony.

At Pablo’s death an adopted son and heir (the former nephew or stepson, I think) commissioned a lawyer to attempt to get our book put out of print and the rights to its materials turned over to him, ignoring Luis’  component of the work as well as the contract.  We resisted, and they did not respond.  Since then the heir (apparently) has gone on to sell sequels, while quite different parties have approached us with separate caches of “Pablo’s” paintings for other books.

As with mysteries and secrets, it is impossible to know what is really happening in these ayahuasca wars: who is a conman and who is the gull (if not both, and us too).  I officially give up.  None of this alters the beauty and power of the book.

In our Mayan lineage we publish three of Martìn Prechtel’s four books (including Stealing Benefacio’s Roses and Long Life, Honey in the Heart), which run the gamut from politics to mythology and raise entirely different issues.  Prechtel allows no difference between how we live and who we are—and who we are determines the kind of shamanism that we can practice.  He teaches life practice as his basis for magic.  His mythology is not just a story or even just a poetic code of sacred things, it is manna we create for feeding the gods and the planet, as indispensable an artifact of our existence as our farms and shops, more so than our factories.

Prechtel continues to be interested in training shamans, but he is first focused on creating human beings, so it is not a matter of implements and entheogens first but of getting initiated into adult life with responsibility to family, community, tribe, species, ancestors, gods, and life itself.  I shall discuss Martìn further in the next chapter, and you can also see my overview in “A Primary Reading List” on this website.

In 2012 North Atlantic will start publishing a line of Prechtel’s new volumes.

Because of the nature of North Atlantic Books, our list is filled with relics of Stone Age religion, scattered through various texts, from an account of native Mexican medicine in Wind in the Blood to Plains Indians herbal uses in The Book of Herbal Wisdom; from a guide on mushrooms to Navaho songs, remnants of ancient weapons and fighting techniques, tattoos, meditation techniques, and the prehistoric shamanic-guild forerunners of osteopathy and acupuncture.  Stone Age religion is the background theme of our press as a whole.  In that sense, North Atlantic is as much Stone Age as New Age.  In a parallel view,  it feeds off Western, not Eastern esoterica at its roots.

G. Western Esoterica

We are always looking for original texts and new interpretations of traditionary wisdom.  At the press’s beginning, Chuck Stein introduced me to the occult and Western esoterica, and it was his own journal Aion to which Io was immediate heir.  The Western occult occupies crucial territory in the Io series, and it underlies North Atlantic Books, though we do not have an extensive list in it the way Samuel Weiser and Llewellyn do.  They beat us to the punch by the better part of the twentieth century and, in a way, secured the territory, and then, while we were muddling along with snippets of alchemy and geomancy in Io, Shambhala took a giant chomp of the rest, Paracelsus.

The 1967 alchemy issue of Io was the true symbolioc starting point for North Atlantic Books.  Without the alchemy issue, we would likely have stopped publishing. It was our first “big” seller and put Io on the map.  Revised and enlarged a number of times over the years, this collection was ultimately anthologized under North Atlantic Books, first as Alchemy: pre-Egyptian Legacy, Millennial Promise, then as The Alchemical Tradition in the Late Twentieth Century—an evolving collection of literary and occult writings, ancient and contemporary, on alchemy and alchemical derivations and metaphors.  The book doesn’t sell much these days, but it is the source seed of our larger occult endeavor.

The key Western esoteric item on North Atlantic’s current list is the Esoteric Masters series curated by Nicholas Goodrick Clarke, professor of Esoteric Studies at Cambridge in England and founding editor of the defunct Thorsens line that we picked up.  Each volume provides a brief selection of the work of a signature Western occultist (in principle, from any era) along with an introduction and commentary by a modern scholar.  Thus far, we have published books of and about Paracelsus, John Dee, Jacob Boehme, Emanuel Swedenborg, Rudolf Steiner, G. R. S. Mead, Helena Blavatsky, Robert Fludd, and Marsilio Ficino, and at roughly the same time we released two separate volumes: Meister Eckhart On Divine Knowledge by C. F. Kelley and Isaac Newton and the Transmutation of Alchemy: An Alternative View of the Scientific Revolution by Philip Ashley Fanning.  Under consideration, whether promising or far-fetched, either in or out of the Esoteric Masters series, are books on Giordano Bruno, Owen Barfield, Robert Duncan, Arthur Guirdham, and Christ.

As touched on in the previous chapter, we are publishing Mysterum: The Jung Institute Lectures on the Ancient Mysteries by David Ulansey, one of our original Io subscribers and a long-time reader of North Atlantic Books.

One of our more recently revived Western esoteric topics is tarot, specifically: Origins of Tarot: Cosmic Evolution and Principles of Immortality by Dai Léon. Just as I searched for a crystal book since the days of the Ethnoastronomy issue of Io, I have sought a book on tarot since the Builders of the Adytum (BOTA) correspondence course on tarot fundamentals in which I enrolled in concert with Chuck Stein while a senior in high school.  My own mini-book of tarot-card designations appear in Io/18, Early Field Notes from the All-American Revival Church, a 1972 collection, but that is archaeology, not a living tome.

On Lindy’s and my 2006 trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair, my eye landed on a beautiful tarot by a publisher with whom we were already collaborating on a Spanish-English primer for children.  I thought to purchase the rights and add some of my seventies tarot designation to the text, but the contract people in Madrid wanted a “heads I win, tails you lose” deal: we translate their book into English, add our own material as we wanted, but the World rights to the whole shebang, including our text, revert back to them after five years.  Then Dai Léon’s book arrived via another old Io subscriber, Paul Schroeder, now a librarian at the University of Maine in Orono.  In the unlikely town of Bangor, Maine, source also of the Silo 7 link to Book of Stones and one of Roger Miller’s destinations in his fabled “King of the Road,” this tarot gem passed from one boxcar to another, then to us.

We also published the revised and expanded version of Richard Kaczynski’s Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley, the definitive biography of the magician (see “A Primary Reading List” on this website).

H. Death and Remembrance

About fifteen years ago, my mother’s youngest brother, historian Lionel Rothkrug, “retired” from his long academic career in Canada and Germany and moved to UC Berkeley to co-head a cross-cultural think tank with the distinguished Oriental scholar Lou Lancaster.  I learned about his arrival in town, got his phone number, and renewed a relationship with him.

Because Lionel ran away from home during World War II and joined the Army, he was never really a part of my family and barely knew my mother.  I met him three times while growing up, once at a family meal when he was passing through New York en route to Paris (probably around age twelve), the second time when I visited him in at the University of Pittsburgh after my high-school graduation, the third time when he was teaching at the University of Michigan while I was a graduate student there (I saw him only once in those three years, though he lived half a block away from us for two of them.)

A professor at Concordia in Montreal for much of his academic life, Lionel came to Berkeley to represent Western Europe at the above-mentioned institute for the study of religion and culture.  Noted for his work on the French Revolution and the intellectual history of Europe, he gradually got involved in the global study of mortuary practices, funerary rites, patterns of pilgrimage, and the ways in which these institutions indelibly influence social structures during a society’s early formative period.  He was also interested in distinguishing healthy, resilient societies from pathological, defective ones on the basis of relationship of each to its ancestors.

For many years Lionel had planned a large-scale academic series based on his theories but, as age caught up with him, he realized he could not oversee this library with a traditional press in the time left to him.

As a pure academic, he had not given North Atlantic Books even cursory notice; it was just what his odd nephew did instead of what he should be doing with his Ph.D.—but, following our lunch together during one afternoon outing, he asked me to photocopy for myself a long article of his (he usually had something in hand to pass on in order for me to better understand his theories).  No need to patronize a copy center: I led him to our machine.

Once he saw our office humming with staff looking, for all intents and purposes, like busy graduate students, his eyes sparkled.  It took only a few Saturday “seminars” between him and me to launch the projected series.

We began in 2007 with his own Death, Trust, & Society: Mapping Religion and Culture. Eight more regional volumes are being planned on Japan, China, Mesoamerica, Mediaeval Europe, Evangelical Religion, but the project is almost certainly too ambitious for Lionel at his present stage of life and whether any of these will happen is now pretty much up for grabs.  (In 2011 I would add that, wonderful as this project was from both an intellectual and personal standpoint, Lionel waited too long, and there was no longer the energy, in him or his associates, to pull it off, so his single volume speaks like a ghost for the whole stillborn series.)

2. General Holistic Health

Much of our holistic health has been introduced under prior rubrics, but I will address the topic as a whole here, for alternative medicine and holistic health in the larger sense are the guiding “market” theme of our publishing, informing the way North Atlantic is seen by the world and, to a certain degree, by ourselves.

Even as Io began as an alchemical seed, that seed sprouted through the soil of my Planet Medicine research.  The present version of what was once a Doubleday book entitled Planet Medicine: From Stone Age Shamanism to Post-Industrial Healing comprises two 700-page volumes entitled Planet Medicine: Origins and Planet Medicine: Modalities plus a third, smaller volume created out of a section removed from the original Doubleday book and enlarged into its own book: Homeopathy: The Great Riddle (itself revised from a first try: Homeopathy: An Introduction for Beginners and Skeptics). That is because the homeopathy was a whole separate book at the outset before it was integrated into a larger work on Doubleday’s request.

These books comprise a historical and contemporary map to healing in terms of: A) its Stone Age and tribal and pre-Western Eurasian origins; B) cross-cultural perspectives C) the materialization and commoditization of Western medicine; D) the relationships between practices (chemical, surgical, psychotherapeutic, osteopathic, shamanic) and meanings; D) the biophysics and psychosomatics of cure; E) a new model for explaining and harnessing the dynamics of therapeutic energy, including my concocted and somewhat capricious hologrammatic, iconic, potentization, nanopharmacological, tranductive, and telekinetic paradigms; and F) some proposals for societal changes using new medicine and ecology as the guiding rubrics.

While Planet Medicine, the book, is semi-academic and has had a moderate if limited audience over the years, our subsequent publishing of a “planet medicine” library has been popular and accessible.  We specialize in books on whole systems by (when possible) innovative practitioners and inventors of modalities—in general, complementary approaches to healing and well-being.  Our goal is to put out source material and hope that authenticity wins out.  We do not do typical guidebooks or derivative accounts that are cobbled together with sales and markets in mind, though we, like everyone else, occasionally yield to temptation and give more self-consciously commercial volumes a shot.  There is, however, something about the language of “sell” that works against the language of “heal,” no matter how subtly the subliminal pitch of “buy me; I’m what you need” is disguised beneath pseudo-sincerity and sophistication.  Our books are meant themselves to be medicines, practices and healing journeys imbibed through language in the latent neurocellular web, and we expect streams feeding into that sort of generous, honest approach from almost our holistic-health authors.

While we’d always choose rough but authentic over slick writing, I’m afraid that “slick” is the currency and dominates the mindset of even many impeccable practitioners.  For instance, 95% of what comes in unsolicited, especially from agents, is “doctor [or healer] as commodity trader,” the commodity being advice, notions, and can’t-miss solutions.

I am overstating the point: as I just said, we publish smooth books and commoditized elixirs too, and other presses of course put out significant, authentic medicinal books.  A tiny fraction of the best healing in the known universe originates from us; the rest comes from mainstream presses and other independents.  But there is also a tremendous amount of hype and wannabe Andrew Weil garbage on the loose, most of it half-baked, way too oversimplified to teach the subtleties of healing, and only quasi-functional.  If we dabbled overly in this kind of stuff in vain hopes of a bestseller, our list would turn to mush and we’d have no identity at all.

Over the years North Atlantic has published holistic medicine successfully in many discrete areas of health and disease, and I will list some of them with their key titles:

•Childbirth and Pediatrics: Calm Birth by Robert Newman, Childhood Ear Infections by Michael Schmidt, Child Health Guide by Randall Neustaedter, and Perfect Health for Kids: Ayurvedic Healing Secrets Every Parent Must Know by John Douillard.

•Hepatitis C: The Hepatitis C Handbook by Matthew Dolan and Iain M. Murray, M.D.

•Carpal Tunnel: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Repetitive Stress Injuries by Tammy Crouch.

•Vision and the Bates Method: Relearning to See by Thomas R. Quackenbush, a four-color book, is pretty much the leading Bates Method manual in the world.  Better Eyesight, a doorstop-size volume of Bates’s previously uncollected writings, was assembled subsequently by Quackenbush.  Also: Healing Your Eyes with Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture, Acupressure & Chinese Herbs by Andy Rosenfarb and The Secret of Perfection Vision: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Nearsightedness by the earnest, intense Italian David De Angelis. This is a hip, modernized Italian version of the core Batesian methods that we found (or that found us at our booth) at Frankfurt in 2006.  (See “Europe Trip Journal 2006”.)

•Stroke Care: After a Stroke: A Support Book for Patients, Caregivers, Families, and Friends by Geoffrey Donnan, M.D., and Carol Burton, a conventional Australian book for which we enlisted Feldenkrais practitioner Elizabeth Beringer to provide an alternative afterword.

•Insomnia: The Good Sleep Guide: 10 Steps to Better Sleep and How to Break the Worry Cycle by Timothy J. Sharp, another Australian migrant.  It’s worth checking catalogues of publishers in other English-speaking territories for the occasional lucky find.

•Aromatherapy: We have about ten books of which the most successful have been The Aromatherapy Book by Jeanne Rose and Medical Aromatherapy by Kurt Schnaubelt.  The newest is Elizabeth Ann Jones’s Awaken to the Healing Fragrance: The Power of Essential Oil Therapy.

•Alternative Cancer Treatment: The Scientific Basis of Chinese Integrative Cancer Therapy: Including a Color Atlas of Chinese Anticancer Plants by Bruce W. Halstead, M.D., and Terri L. Holcomb-Halstead.  The 100+ original, museum-quality paintings in this hardcover compendium were rendered by a renowned Chinese botanical artist; they depict mushrooms, algae, bark, and roots as well as blossoms and leaves.  The collection itself was put together by three Chinese herbal companies also developing a series of anti-cancer formulas, which they are gradually introducing into the United States.  The book is meant to expound what the packaging on the formulas by American law cannot: empirically derived herbal formulas are used successfully to treat cancer in China.  After building a lab and factory outside Los Angeles, the companies began manufacturing remedies there, calling them “supplements” to avoid FDA scrutiny—but they got shut down anyway.

We also published an Italian book: Cancer and the Search for Lost Meaning: The Discovery of a Revolutionary New Cancer Treatment by Pier Mario Blava.

Years ago we published Cancer Salves by Ingrid Naiman in the sense that we distributed it under our imprint, but this was an instance in which the classic energy web failed and the model self-destructed.  The author was ambivalent about every stage of the process and then disappointed when we didn’t ring up sales by the mega-thousands and blamed us.  But, despite her unlikely goals, the use of topical salves to treat cancer is an honorable practice with a long tradition.

The most recent alternative cancer book is Fighting Cancer: A Nontoxic Approach to Treatment by Robert Gorter and Erik Peper.  To show the complexity and paradox of this difficult topic (the most trenchant disease complex) even among alternative practitioners, we have a future book in development: Making Peace with Cancer by Louise Lubetkin.

•Antibiotics: Three increasingly enlarged editions editions of a classic tome, the title of which speaks for itself: Beyond Antibiotics: 50 (or so) Ways to Boost Immunity and Avoid Antibiotics, the first two by Michael A. Schmidt, Lendon H. Smith, and Keith W. Sehnert; the most recent one is revised to be by Schmidt alone.

•Vaccinations: The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults by Randall Neustaedter and Vaccination, Social Violence, and Criminality by Harris L. Coulter.  Childhood vaccinations have been fingered, whether legitimately or not, for the current epidemic of autism, and the Coulter title is an academic treatise and tabloid headline combined and has been treated as such.

•Herbs: We have almost twenty books on herbalism, the most prominent being those by popular American-Indian-oriented Minnesota herbalist Matthew Wood: The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicines; Seven Herbs: Plants as Teachers; The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism: Basic Doctrine, Energetics, and Classification; and the two-volume Earthwise Herbal, one on North America, the other on Europe. We re-released Dale Pendell’s Pharmako series, an underground cult classic in three revised volumes.  This is a unique and iconic “wikipedia” of human consciousness derived from plants and plant lore and ranging from chocolate and tea to opium and heroin.  The individual volumes are: Pharmako/Poeia, Pharmako/Gnosis, and Pharmako/Dynamis.

We recently began publishing German herbalist Wolf D. Storl, starting with Healing Lyme Disease Naturally: History, Analysis, and Treatments.

Mushrooms: Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada by David L. Spahr and Fungal Pharmacy: Medicine Mushrooms and Lichens of North America by Richard Rogers.  I don’t take literally Terence Mckenna’s mushroom screed, but I do take it very seriously.  If mushrooms are extraterrestrial probes sent to Earth to deliver meta-links of non-Gaian intelligence, McKenna provides a voice for that fantasy:

“The mushroom speaks, and our opinions rest upon what it tells eloquently of itself in the cool night of the mind: ‘I am old, older than thought in your species, which is itself fifty times older than your history.  Though I have been on Earth for ages, I am from the stars.  My home is no one planet, for many worlds scattered through the shining disk of the galaxy have conditions which allow my spores an opportunity for life….  My true body is a fine network of fibers growing through the soil.  These networks may cover acres and may have far more connections than the number in a human brain….  [A]ll my mycelial networks in the galaxy are in hyperlight communication across space and time.  The mycelial body is as fragile as a spider’s web, but the collective hypermind and memory is a huge historical archive of the career of evolving intelligence on many worlds in our spiral star swarm.”

•Immunity: Healing Immune disorders: Natural Defense-Building Solutions by Andrew Gaeddert.

•Flu: Flu: Alternative Treatments and Prevention by Randall Neustaedter.

•Migraines: Migraine Auras: When the Visual World Fails by Richard Grossinger.  I put together this book because I couldn’t find a writer to do it in the way I wanted or at a reasonable fee (the lowest freelance bid being $12,000!).  I wanted the project to happen because there is no other general book on the subject; the closest approximation is Oliver Sacks’ more general 1970 book Migraine on which I necessarily drew heavily for both primary and secondary source material, quoting both Sacks and whomever interesting he himself quoted for more than fifteen percent of my own book.  I wrote him a number of times seeking permission for my excerpts but never heard back, so rolled the dice.

A year and a half later I was alarmed to receive a registered letter, return addressee: Oliver Sacks.  Fearing the worst, I tore it open it to find the happiest possible outcome: his delight that the cause of migraine auras had been taken up by someone else.  He and I then engaged in an exchange of letters about his own migraine auras and general philosophical orientation on the topic.

Thus engaged with us, Sacks wrote the preface for our huge volume, Migraine Art, coauthored by Klaus Podoll, the overseer of the images, and his predecessor, the late Derek Robinson.  One book (Migraine Auras) in fact led to the other (Migraine Art).  After I tracked Dr. Podoll down as an expert on the subject, he co-wrote the preface to my own book with his associate Markus Dahlem and then, when Lindy and I were in Germany for the 2006 Frankfurt fair, Klaus made a point of coming to Mainz and booking a room at our hotel in order to meet us and show the long-ago-completed manuscript of his and Derek’s project.

Looking a bit like Truman Capote and a bit like a hobbit elder, Klaus is a neuropsychiatrist working in a clinical setting at the university hospital in Aachen.  Specializing in migraine, he was a wealth of information and gossip about the technologization of modern psychology, the state of psychotherapy in Germany, the history of the treatment of migraine, the neurophenomenology of migraine, and his specialty, migraine art.  He brought along a binder of 350 or so slides of paintings by migraineurs, which were to form the backbone of the book—part clinical text and taxonomy of migraine, part outsider art—and it was waiting beside his tea and biscuits in the breakfast room for us to appear.  Later we viewed these images, page by page and category by category—history of migraine, scotomata, social consequences of migraine, the geography of pain, etc.—in the Hotel Hammer library.

Over the years no academic publisher would touch it, as it was too pop-culturish, but then no popular publisher would undertake such an expensive academic project.  Thus, it was left for us and appeared finally in January 2009 with Dr. Sacks’ preface.  Unfortunately, this amazing book has generated negligible sales.

As I write, migraine auras are newly going viral all over the Internet and is in the daily top-searched items because a newscaster broke into gibberish when her brain was unexpectedly taken over by an aura.  That was not longer after Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade left a basketball game because he couldn’t see the basket through is aura.

Tics and Tourette’s: Breakthrough Discoveries in Natural Treatments by Sheila J. Rogers.

•Skin Care: Healing Skin Disorders by Andrew Gaeddert and Natural Skin Care: Alternative and Traditional Solutions by Joni Loughran.  We have published a number of books by both authors.  Loughran has been an attractive spokesperson for a number of skin-care products.  Gaeddert runs a Traditional Chinese Medicine import company called Herbal Concerns, and we distribute a variety of their self-produced titles for them.

•Psychospiritual Medicine: Robert Newman and Ruth Miller wrote a book called Calm Healing which I believe is a classic of the type of meditative, consciousness-based medicine preached and practiced by Larry Dossey (among others).  It is a thorough and original primary-source guidebook for developing meditations, visualizations, prayers, and personal practices to prevent, reverse, and heal pathologies—the results depending on the depth, commitment, and karma of the practitioner.  It doesn’t sell at all, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is an epitome text.  It says that the simplest and purest way to heal disease is at the level of clear mind, full breath, and absolute intention, an almost impossible art to cultivate well enough to make an impact on real afflictions.

Surgery (con): Doctors are More Harmful than Germs: The Truth about Chronic Illness by Harvey Bigelsen with Lisa Haller.  Cofounder of the American Holistic Medical Association, Bigelsen was kicked out of the mainstream guild by the AMA.  He has a shrill but cogent rap about the introduction of inflammation in the system.  For a (pro) surgery view, see Sid Schwab (below).

3. Secondary Topics

These are secondary only in the sense that either we do not have many or diverse titles in them or the books do not sell at the levels of our major niches.  Some represent more arcane and idiosyncratic categories, while others are broad and commercial in the publishing world at large—just not for us.  While we think of ourselves as both a niche publisher and a general-trade publisher, the categories below do not have enough critical mass to define a whole niche for us, yet they are not pure general trade either.  Yet they are important tesserae in our mix.

Remember, we are not a mind-body-spirit publisher entirely by choice; we could also have been a literary/political/cultural studies publisher too akin to New Directions or Grove if the marketplace had permitted it—but they let us know long, long ago that they didn’t want that from us.  Here is what we have tried with some commitment, heart, and gumption:

A. Science Fiction

Science fiction on the whole has been a near catastrophic genre for North Atlantic/Frog.  However, one big project is still thriving after more than a decade: our projected ten-, now-thirteen-volume collected Theodore Sturgeon edited by Crawdaddy publisher Paul Williams and overseen by Noël Sturgeon, the late author’s youngest daughter and a professor of ecofeminism at Washington State (see Chapter Seven).  Sturgeon’s heyday was from the twenties through the fifties.  Somewhat ironically, he was one of two science-fiction writers on whom I wrote my eighth-grade term paper (Robert Sheckley was the other); I read ten or so Sturgeon novels at the time and was waiting for this series on some level ever since.  I actually gave Noël all my leftover mass-market paperbacks from that era (1958).

There is a loyal, mostly collectors’ audience for the Sturgeon books (3000 or so per volume in hardcover), but we are not a fine literary press, so we did not go about this in an orderly fashion, publishing either too few or too many hardcovers (depending on sales of prior ones) and then not holding firm or staying consistent, e.g. reissuing some but not others in paper, a needless and distractingly inconsistent enterprise.  We have stopped printing paperbacks, as they confused and cluttered the market but, as we approach the end of the series, we now lack copies of a number of the volumes.

We have published numerous other science-fiction authors, most of them in concert with Tachyon, including Michael Swanwick and Pat Murphy.  The latter is the author of my candidate for the best science-fiction short story of all-time, “Rachel in Love,” a tale of a girl trapped in an ape body and her quest to discover and declare her humanity (see “My Favorite Novels and Other Fictions and Narratives” on this website).  The book that Murphy published with us was The Shadow Hunter, the adventures of a Neanderthal deposited into the modern world—in a way a not-dissimilar theme.

We also published an amazing but (to date) lost book on a differently related element of the same theme, the feminist “biography” of a half bonobo/half human girl/woman: Primal Tears by Kelpie Wilson.  Zero success at all with that or with any non-Sturgeon sci fi.  But I highly recommend Primal Tears as another convincing half-ape, half-us.

B. Countertheories to the HIV Hypothesis for AIDS

We have published around half a dozen titles challenging the HIV retrovirus as the single cause of AIDS and/or offering alternative treatments.  Some of these books are pretty much moribund at this point (AIDS and Syphilis: The Hidden Link and the Anarchist AIDS Medical Formulary among them) but, because of our long-time connection with Harvey Bialy, we are still actively bruiting the concepts of Peter Duesberg.

Duesberg, once considered a Nobel-level cancer researcher and expert on retroviruses, ran a vibrant lab at the University of California at Berkeley.  That was before he disputed the Gallo hypothesis that HIV was the cause of AIDS.  Since then he has been ostracized and would have lost even his faculty job were it not for tenure.

As noted earlier, we published a huge collection of Duesberg’s scientific papers in the 1990s: Infectious AIDS: Have We Been Misled? More recently Harvey Bialy, a founding editor of Nature/Biotechnology, and a charter member of our original Robert Kelly salon, wrote Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS: A Scientific Life & Times of Peter H. Duesberg, an outsider scientific history which we copublished in 2004 with the Autonomous National University of Mexico.  Whether Duesberg will be judged ultimately right or wrong or whether such a verdict is relevant anymore, these books are models for how to address and attack the logic and methodology of corporate science from within.

Out of a popular blog touted by Bialy we developed another AIDS contrarian book: Science Sold Out: Does HIV Really Cause AIDS? by Rebecca Culshaw, a biostatistical scientist in Texas who began her quest as a skeptic of the Duesberg theory, setting out to disprove it for her thesis.  Later she switched to agreeing with Duesberg et al. and found herself blackballed and recently fired by her own department.

Since the publication of this book, Culshaw has been the target of hate mail, international pranks and fabrications using her name, and vicious parodies of her person on line, depicting her pornographically and threatening her safety.  Heavy-duty crank letters of the Unabomber variety have been written to us, Random House, and even stores that carry the book—all by academics at respected institutions like Johns Hopkins University and the University of Connecticut.

I did actually take up debate with Seth Someone K. at Storrs, Connecticut, who signed himself “full professor” and was harassing our staff.  He wrote a bogus letter requesting a desk copy of Science Sold Out because he said he wanted to use it in his course.  That was merely a ruse to engage in vitriolic lambasting of us for publishing it.

He initiated the dialogue by saying he wanted to know, before assigning the book to his students, if the publisher had researched it thoroughly and stood behind it.  After Drew, a staff person not understanding the ploy and playing it straight, was unable to satisfy him, he turned it over to me in bafflement.  An exchange of emails ensued between the Professor K and me.  After he dropped his charade and triumphantly declared that he would never assign such crap, I steered him into a milder discussion about supporting educational debates on controversial topics.  He then pronounced Rebecca’s book a waste of student money.  I offered to give it to him for a dollar per copy if he used it for class discussion around the topic.  He refused.  Then I asked him why he was attacking Ms. Culshaw, a young pregnant woman, with tactics more like those of the anti-abortionist gestapo or the mafia, and I also wondered aloud why he and his colleagues got so bonkers as to lose all civility and vestiges of rational, decent behavior over this topic.  His response:

“You know why we get bonkers, I can tell you.  Pseudoscientists are giving cover to governments that are essentially engaging in genocide. Becky has a hand in that, so she’s got to pay.  And then there is the idea that science should not be manipulated for personal egos, psychopathological problems, money etc.  So I am done with you and that piece of shit book.  I wouldn’t pay a dollar for it.  Try 15 cents, and you pay the postage.  How’s that?  A debate on this issue would degrade my class.”

This is typical of the hysteria around this topic.  At one of my Amherst College reunions, a category of event at which behavior is usually, even necessarily, quite civil between people of very different political and philosophical persuasions, Mike Merson, a classmate from the World Health Organization, walked up to me and  began screaming that I was killing people…solely, it turned out, because North Atlantic had published Duesberg.

When Culshaw was fired, the professor at Storrs wrote a congratulations letter to her and copied it to North Atlantic; he even offered to underwrite her going-away party.  What a guy!

C. Embryology

There have been myriad speculative and interdisciplinary books on quantum theory, astrophysical cosmology, chaos and complexity theories, relativity, genes, quarks, superstrings, and Darwinian thought bent to every imaginable axis and metaphor, etc., but nothing theoretical and philosophical on the cellular creation of the body.  There is also an evangelical Christian counter-literature representing anti-scientific reactions to not only Darwin but many of the tenets of mainstream materialistic science but nothing popular and nothing not also religiously biased (e.g. the Discovery Institute and Intelligent Design) on the limits of genetic determinism.

The key unaddressed enigma in the midst of topic is the nature of the embryo and embryological development, e.g. the basis and origin of our bodies and consciousness in a cellular-tissue context as well as the relationship, in the universe at large, embryogenically (as opposed to materialistically and/or metaphysically) between matter and life.

Books on life and biology valorize the gene, genuflecting to its reductionist doctrine, and they describe the rigmarole of putting creatures together via blastulas, gastrulas, and organ differentiation as if it were a plan written up in a lab.  There is very little good language, metaphor, or cross-cultural, interdisciplinary speculation on embryos by comparison even to relativity, black holes, the “tao of physics,” or the “selfish gene.”  This opens the door to both Christian and Muslim critiques of science, neither of which is particularly sagacious or enlightening—they are primarily howls of superstitious rage and vengeance.

I got into the embryological issue initially as a graduate anthropology student taking required physical anthropology. Our teacher announced that there were three branches to his field and we were going to study two of them: population genetics and primate archaeology.  It was several classes before we even found out, in an aside that he dropped in answer to a question, that the missing branch was embryology, bearing the ostensibly antiquated but indispensable corollary that ontogeny (the development of the embryo) recapitulates phylogeny (the evolution of the species). Without such recapitulation, there is no link between fossils and genes—but anthropology hasn’t any way to address or even acknowledge the link without lapsing into the forbidden territory of vitalism. Unless you can wrestle with the degrees to which ontogeny both does and does not recapitulate phylogeny, you cannot explore embryology in the context of physical anthropology.

Embryology is, in truth, the dynamic link between the fossil record leading from the first cell to the first hominids and the transmission of traits and genes within populations. Yet anthropological embryology remains an esoteric topic, as there is no real way to conceptualize a living historical bridge between ontogeny and phylogeny. On the one hand, ontogeny does not recapitulate phylogeny—a modern embryo does not go through the entire evolutionary sequence from the first cell through aquatic creatures to amphibians, mammals, and humans but readapts dynamically in utero. On the other, phylogeny alone makes ontogeny possible—without prior embryos supplying information and cellular context, no living organism could emerge. This paradox contains an entire unexplored science of meanings, many of them arising from a critique of science itself, particularly of genetic determinism and its cultural dominance and industrial applications.

In 1996 I rewrote my Avon embryology book into a kind of tome that hardly ever gets written these days (and certainly wouldn’t have gotten close to published if the author weren’t also a publisher)—a 950-page hardcover with 24 color plates (most of them commissioned original drawings), over 400 black and white illustrations.  No sane publisher would have given this manuscript a moment’s consideration.

In the text I went from atoms and molecules and the primal Earth through evolution of species (phylogeny) and development of embryos (ontogeny), phase by phase, describing each layer of development in meticulous detail.  The late chapters are cultural, psychological, spiritual, theosophical, and Buddhist, as Embryogenesis offers alternative logic and frameworks from nonscientific systems for understanding the phenomenology of existence while linking Darwinian thought to such diverse concepts as gender, libido, and karma.  The new title of the work was Embryogenesis: Species, Gender, and Identity.

The book serves as a one-of-a-kind guide and detailed map of the formation of life in the womb, along with images and tropes for each phase.  It directly addresses the Evolution versus Right to Life debate at a level that gives both sides something to embrace and something to refute.  In that sense, it delivers a third way—in favor of science but against materialism, in favor of the integrity of consciousness and human spirit but against religiosity and fundamentalism.  I feel that the sheer description and analysis of the development of the embryo provides a lesson in the history of science and the epistemology of meaning and at the same time gives a clue as to the basis of the sacred in life: the embryo is the sacred principle operating entirely on its own.

Early chapters through the middle include: The Original Earth; The Materials of Life; The First Beings; The Cell; The Genetic Code; Sperm and Egg; Fertilization; The Blastula; Gastrulation; Morphogenesis; Biological Fields; Chaos, Fractals, and Deep Structure; Ontogeny and Phylogeny; and Biotechnology.  A middle section is made up of: The Origin of the Nervous System; The Evolution of Intelligence; Neurulation and the Human Brain; Organogenesis; The Musculoskeletal and Hematopoietic Systems; Mind; and The Origin of Sexuality and Gender.

The finale chapters are: Birth Trauma; Healing; Transsexuality, Intersexuality, and the Cultural Basis of Gender; Self and Desire; Spiritual Embryogenesis; Cosmogenesis and Mortality; and Death and Reincarnation.

The premise of Embryogenesis is that bodies are constructed on many levels—biological, cultural, psychospiritual, and symbolic—and it is critical to understand the conceptual layers and their meanings, both discretely and in terms of one another.  I try to be sincere and thorough from a classic Darwinian perspective, while putting that perspective in the context of other theories and world-views.  After all, biology is only one of the languages in which the meaning of biological development is written.  My goal was to eschew speculative  New Science metaphors but to create fresh arguments from the ground up without reference to a guiding metaphor or a theory.  I wanted to stay outside of both formal Taoism/Gnosticism (or their equivalent) and ordinary history of science, and to generate a new connection between biology and religion by going through a description of a physical developmental process step by step and arriving at something that was both biological and spiritual and neither separate of the other.  There is only the one universe, and it is not secular in one place, sacred in another.  There can only be a unitive, cohesive guiding shape behind creation, both scientific and psychospiritual.

While life can certainly be shoehorned into thermodynamics in a Newtonian universe, it cannot be explained by it—consciousness generates its own physics and meanings.  My epigraph was that “the embryo is the universe writing itself on its own body”; that is, the embryo represents the intrinsic developmental intelligence of the cosmos and must be understood almost as a transpersonal “text” in its own terms.

It took me four years to rewrite Embryogenesis, and by then I had just begun to dig into this paradoxically complex topic.  So from 2000 to 2004 I wrote a second book, Embryos, Galaxies, and Sentient Beings: How the Universe Makes Life, taking up items I had missed or not plumbed deeply enough in the first book: the relationship between thermodynamics/entropy and the emergence of information/life, discussion of chaos theory and thermodynamics, a critique of Intelligent Design, a discussion of complexity theory in the context of the work of Stuart Kaufman, a multifaceted list of epigenetic and morphodynamic principles, the trajectory of creative loss of information in genetic systems, embryology in the context of interplanetary astronomy and exobiology (including a proposition that all “embryos” on all planet and moons will go through something like the same topodynamic developmental sequence), exploration of possible origins of genes, a series of alternatives to genetic determinism, , the Darwinian world-view in literature and philosophy (Thomas Hardy as a focal point), the primal relationship between consciousness and matter and , in the context of 9/11, which took place while I was writing the book, the culpability of unexamined corporate science in the current global crisis.

Though these two books represent a miniscule portion of the North Atlantic list, they serve, as a placeholder for a dialogue yet to come, and they provide the beginnings for a broader inquiry into the nature of matter, life, and consciousness as well as a history and critique of science.  They also mark the threshold at which my abandoned academic career merges with North Atlantic Books—even more so in fact than ethnomedicine.

Within North Atlantic these two titles set basis fort a small list that I have been trying to develop under the rubric of embryology; that is, co-opting embryology as the name for an as-yet underdeveloped interdisciplinary discussion melding hardcore mineral science (biophysics), metaphysics (psychic science), and phenomenology (the experience of existence).

This multidimensional topic, crossing from biology through politics to metaphysics and mythocosmology, lies very close to the axis of Black Mountain literature and quantum vitalist science from which Io and North Atlantic were launched.  I see it as a significant long-term undertaking, with no particular deadline or goal and no assured payoff in sales or public recognition.

Our library comprises the following additional components as of now:

•Crystals, Fabrics, and Fields: Metaphors That Shape Embryos by Donna Jeanne Haraway.  I discovered this first book, a rewrite of her thesis on twentieth-century embryology, on the remainder table at Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley while researching my original version of Embryogenesis.  After our son Robin took Donna’s class at UCSanta Cruz, I followed up on contacting her and eventually proposed reviving the book.  Haraway is a well-known author of feminist cultural-history books, published mostly by Routledge,

Crystals… examines how scientists thought about and worked in the laboratory with animal embryos in the first half of the twentieth century. The dance of form and function of developing organisms inspired potent visual and verbal metaphors that guided experiments and helped make sense of the layered complexity of living embryos.  In an age before information technologies and figures, the pivotal researchers studied here—the American Ross Harrison, Englishman Joseph Needham, and Austrian Paul Weiss—shaped experimentally-grounded, organic systems-theoretical approaches to the emergence of active biological form.  In the process, differing philosophical commitments, relations to the flesh of language, political alignments, knowledge of Chinese scientific traditions, approaches to beauty, technical instrumentation, and hands-on procedures all helped shape the laboratory encounters of embryos and biologists in both flesh and word.  The result is a powerful organicist approach to developmental biology as an inter-actionist, materialist, non-reductionist science that slid from favor in the early years of the molecular genetic revolution’s fascination with determination by linear codes—only to reemerge with great strength in the present. (Haraway helped write and design that description.)

•Translation into English of the outsider embryology books of the late German biologist Erich Blechschmidt.  We have published one so far: The Ontogenetic Basis of Human Anatomy: A Biodynamic Approach to Development from Conception to Birth, and have others in process. I also wrote a two-chapter summary of Blechschmidt’s work in Embryos, Galaxies, and Sentient Beings.

•The Extracellular Matrix and Ground Regulation: Basis for a Holistic Biological Medicine by Alfred Pischinger, foreword by James Oschmann.  This prominent German biomedical book discusses the role of the cell and the extracellular matrix in the development of the organism and its capacity for self-healing.  The text used to be available only in a poor English translation and, after going out of print, became a $100 item on Amazon.  On the urging of somatic therapist Frank Lowen, we have retranslated and published the revised German edition.  It has particular value for practitioners of osteopathy, homeopathy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, as it gives a biophysical basis in the extracellular for dynamic change following palpation, microdoses, and needles.

•The Mind of Your Newborn Baby by David Chamberlain, a classic on its topic, originally published by J. P. Tarcher and let go out of print, as noted earlier.

On the Origin of Form: Evolution by Self-Organization by Stuart Pivar.  This book found its way to us uncannily through David Wilk, an old literary friend through Io. In his day, David has founded literary presses, been head of the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Program, run three different book distributorships (see Chapter Twenty) and, most recently, served as a general publishing consultant.  It was in that role that Pivar came to him.  An artist and industrial chemist and designer, Pivar hit upon a basis for all biological form in the unfolding of the torus shape on multiple axes.  Using a studio of artists and scientists, he has developed projective models illustrating a skein of development outside of a genetically determinative context.  He needed someone to help him self-publish and distribute the book and David, who said that the guy was either a genius or a crackpot, thought the book might have something to do with our publishing and my work.  He was dead-on.

Unfortunately Pivar is also an intentional provocateur and baiter of scientists, as we have found out since taking the book on as a distributed title.  It is brilliant conceptual work, but its neglect and almost ideological rejection of genetics also makes it seem myopic and biased.  The scientific world is remiss for ignoring Pivar, but Pivar is also guilty of his own misplaced materialism.  Fairly or unfairly, Harvey Bialy declared, after initially raving about the text, that “the guy’s real knowledge of biology is one nanometer deep.”

The sixty-four plates showing the development of biological topologies from a butterfly to a follicle of hair of a mammal to a tortoise’s shell, many of them in color, are show-stoppers and, apart from other issues, quite convincing.  The book is really a modern version of D’Arcy Thompson’s late nineteenth-century classic work On Growth and Form.

•There is also a heavy embryological component to many of our books on craniosacral therapy, including John Upledger’s Cell Talk and A Brain is Born; Craniosacral Therapy for Babies and Small Children, a color text by Etienne and Neeto Piersman, the biodynamically oriented titles such as Craniosacral Biodynamics Volume 1 and Volume 2 by Franklyn Sills, and the equivalent three volumes of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy by Michael Shea.

The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry by Suzan Mazur.  This is a report on a conference held in Germany to come up with alternatives to neo-Darwinian evolutionary science and pure genetic determinism.  The text includes Richard Lewonton, Lynn Margulis, and Stuart Pivar.

The simultaneous overlap between embryology and craniosacral biodynamic theory (Upledger/Sills) on the one side of the symbolic/scientific universe, and between formal embryology (Pivar) and the history and critique of science (Haraway) on the other is unique to our press.

D. Sports

My own (and Kevin Kerrane’s) literary baseball anthologies (see Chapter Two) were the earliest successful genre at North Atlantic after the imprint was established, but these books are now sound aslseep asleep.  We have published a number of other baseball and basketball books with mixed success.  San Francisco Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins’ biography of Pete Newell, the legendary California basketball coach, A Good Man, sold well in spurts, though mainly at the annual Pete Newell Classic at UCBerkeley and at testimonial dinners, and we have since passed it on to University of Nebraska Press.

Things Happen for a Reason: The True Story of an Itinerant Life in Baseball by Terry Leach and Tom Clark, with introductions by David Cone and Paul Auster is one of the hippest books on our list in terms of its lineup, and it has given Terry a second career at card shows—but it has never sold much.  Novelist Jonathan Lethem and columnist Bob Klapisch provided blurbs on the back cover; Tom Clark, a former poetry editor of the Paris Review, a noted literary writer, and a polymath biographer (Jack Kerouac, Mark Fidrych, among others) ghost-wrote the book from Leach’s oral rap.  Leach himself was a submarine-style pitcher on the New York Mets during the 1980s (he won ten straight games in 1987 and could have won the Cy Young award if he hadn’t gotten hurt).  There are things about Leach’s career that are unique, and his insider story is pure baseball lore.  See my piece “Playing Catch with Terry Leach: Baseball as an Act of Transgression” in my book The New York Mets: Myth, Ethnography, and Subtext, pp. 71-141 for an account of the adventures and back story behind this book.

This is an example of a fan-publisher manifesting a book out of sheer enthusiasm.  I wasn’t the first, and I won’t be the last.  So many people in publishing are sports fans and love the entrée that books give them into the inner world of players, so these titles appear way in excess of the real audience.  It is cool, so editors love doing them and there is also a hard-to-kill illusion that the hordes of sports fans actually read books.  Yes, it is a huge demographic, but it is not a literate or book-friendly one. We have dabbled for years in pro-sports publishing, and the market has duly punished us for our ingenuousness: Rowdy Richard, The Million Dollar Backfield, Run Rabbit Run, Giants Diary, etc.

We have done a couple of football books, and it is from those near-throwaway gambits that we have produced our single big sports success.  Here is an unwritten rule of thumb: pro sports sell poorly, college sports somewhat better, and high-school sports are the queen of the prom. We have managed a significant and enduring classic in When the Game Stands Tall: The Story of the De La Salle Spartans and Football’s Longest Winning Streak by Neil Hayes. In case you are wondering it was 151 games, and it ended in 2005, soon after publication.  In fact, the primo reason that we got the book instead of any of the mainstream commercial presses hankering for it, aside from the fact that the school is in nearby Concord, California, and we were local to the story, was that Neil feared the imminent end of the winning streak (rightly so) and its catastrophic impact on potential publicity and sales—and we were willing to bring out the book six months earlier than any New York press.  That timeline was his sine qua non.

We have one sad tennis book: Zina: My Life in Women’s Tennis by Zina Garrison, with U.S.A. Today columnist Doug Smith.  Now, if we had signed the Williams sisters, we would have had something, but Zina was, alas, only their forerunner, and she didn’t, finally, win the big one.  The book came to us back-route via an agent who happened to be an Amherst classmate of mine—and only after Harper, which paid the advance, was unable to get it out.  We should have taken due warning from their tribulations; there simply wasn’t a book there.   I also would have left the word “Women’s” out of the title if I had given it half a thought.

The most fulfilling aspect of this project was doing phone interviews with Zina, trying to enrich the skimpy text beyond soap and press-release pap.  At one point I asked Zina to describe what a tennis ball was, and she kept giving banal answers until suddenly, out of the blue, she spoke the words I was hoping for: “It’s nothing but energy that makes a ping.”

E. Politics/Terra Nova

The two areas in which Lindy and I have most yearned unrequitedly over the years to publish are politics and literature.  As noted, it hasn’t been in the cards—our press has not been traditionally recognized for these kinds of books, but we like them and continue to find them, produce them, and reinvent our approach.  In 2003, we tried to break out our own political line on the model of Second Story Press’s Open Media series of inexpensive small-format books, little more in a way than broadsides or pamphlets.  We entitled our series Terra Nova and whipped out two successive tiers of books: a first batch that was cultural and staid (although we didn’t think so at the time), and a second batch that was transgressive and daring.  Neither did well, probably as much because of the format and presentation as the books’ content, though the second batch at least broke even.  With some high-profile exceptions, booksellers tend to prefer expensive books over cheap ones for the obvious reason.  Only after we abandoned the series did Second Story publisher, Dan Simon, tell me that even he had trouble with this sort of little book and, if he hadn’t corralled Noam Chomsky into Open Media, it wouldn’t have kicked up much in the way of sales either.

Batch 1: We defined the initial run as literary as well as political and opened with Barry Gifford’s cinema essay, Brando Rides Alone, then followed with novelist Kim Chernin’s Seven Pillars of Jewish Denial, Rabbi Michael Lerner’s The Geneva Accord[1], Regis Debray’s Empire 2.0 (a polemic on the American gambit at world domination), and the 2004 People’s Democratic Platform. Good books all, but so what?  Post Terra Nova we republished the Chernin in an enlarged, reedited version: Everywhere a Guest, Nowhere at Home: A New Vision of Israel and Palestine.

Batch 2: The second wave was highlighted by What Does Al-Qaeda Want?—Unedited Communiqués, compiled with commentary by Robert O. Marlin, a graduate student at the University of Houston.  I found someone to execute this concept by querying widely on the Web after activist scholar Juan Cole turned it down while asking, “Who would want to read such a thing?”

The Communiqués were followed by the most successful of all Terra Nova books, an anthology entitled Abu Ghraib: The Politics of Torture with essays by assorted people, including Barbara Ehrenreich, David Matlin, Charles Stein, my old Goddard student David Levi Strauss, and New York Review of Books stalwart Mark Danner.

The third in this batch, Cecil Brown’s Dude, Where’s My Black Studies Department, addresses and analyzes the disappearance of African American students from American universities simultaneous with the widespread imprisonment of Black youth and the rise of hiphop.  Rebecca Culshaw’s above-mentioned book on AIDS is the other second-batch Terra Nova book.

The Terra Nova concept has now been reenacted in a more mind-body-spirit context as the Manifesto series under Evolver Editions.

Outside of Terra Nova we published a number of significant political books, the most notable of them being Prisons: Inside the New America—From Vernooykill Creek to Abu Ghraib by David Matlin.  Matlin details the rise and spread of corporate American prison commoditization (PIC: Prison Industrial Culture), its corruption, class bias, and its inculcation of the sleaze, recreational sadism, sociopathic disregard for others’ humanity, and criminal values, much of which surfaced at Abu Ghraib. Slavery didn’t disappear in America; it was just reinstitutionalized in the prison system.

Originally published by San Diego State University Press under the title Vernooykill Creek, this book became an underground classic, though it went out of print quickly with SDSU and was not reissued until we put together our expanded and revised edition in 2005.  By the way, our old editor-at-large Charles Stein, who hung out with poet Matlin for a few years in the Hudson Valley, directed this title to us: another arrow in his bulging North Atlantic quiver.

We have been excited by some other political thrillers over the years: The Case Against “Free Trade”: Gatt, NAFTA, and the Globalization of Corporate Power by Ralph Nader, Jerry Brown, et al. (via Danny Moses, my old editor at Sierra Club Books and a former Green Party candidate for office in California, fed this to us during his era of exile from the press); Hidden Casualties: Environmental, Health, and Political Consequences of the Persian Gulf War, edited by Saul Bloom, John M. Miller, James Warner, and Phillipa Winkler, Foreword by Nancy Pelosi (this book, which addresses ecological devastation by modern warfare in the Gulf region, was directed to us by our son Robin after he began developing his own networks of colleagues, and it was copublished with the Arms Research Council;); The Woman from Mossad: The Story of Mordechai Vanunu and the Israeli Nuclear Program by Peter Hounam (of the London Times and copublished with his Vision Press); and A Line in the Sea: the Qatar V. Bahrain Border Dispute in the World Court by Jawad Salim Al-Arayed (distributed for the Bahrain government via one of our designers who was hired by them to enact the project).

F. Psychology

We have folded Jungian psychology into many categories, including one reconfabulated book from the Man, edited by Meredith Sabini, a psychospiritual ecological collection, The Earth Has a Soul: The Nature Writings of C. G. Jung..  We have published three books by Jungian therapist Charles Poncé (including Working the Soul and The Archetype of the Unconscious and the Transfiguration of Therapy).  We copublished three afore-mentioned core titles of Robert Sardello.  North Atlantic and Sardello’s Goldenstone copublished Healing Pandora: The Restoration of Hope and Abundance by Gail Thomas.

We have started releasing the works of psychotherapist Robert Augustus Masters.  Our first title was a classic which gave rise a whole spiritually materialistic term: Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters. This falls right in line with my “law of spiritual publishing” proposed in Chapter Six.  Our second Masters title is Transformation Through Intimacy.

We have begun to explore the complex area of family constellations, a therapy system involving the diagnosis and reenactment of trauma going back generations in families and including the active presence of the dead (and the ancestors) as well as the living.  We began our publication of this territory with Family Constellations: A Practical Guide to Uncovering the Origins of Family Conflict by Joy Manné and followed with American German psychiatrist Hunter Beaumont’s Consulting the Soul. We are now exploring ramifications of this system’s intersection with indigenous American shamanism and its use of the ancestors.

Much general psychology is scattered throughout our list with specific books on self-help, addiction, trauma, grief, sex, and panic, as the line between “psycho” and “spiritual” at NAB is usually a thin one.  Psychotherapist Robert Romanyshyn wrote our main book on loss and grieving, The Soul in Grief: Love, Death, and Transformation, but Ellias Lonsdale’s Book of Theanna counts as an esoteric grieving book, and other metaphysical titles address grief either through Buddhist precepts regarding the nature of life or one form or another of shamanic healing.

Our trauma titles are headlined by Peter A. Levine, an innovator and leader in the field who will be discussed in the next chapter; Peter has also helped us develop a separate list that includes books by his students and associates, most of which he has copublished with us.

Our addiction authors include Michael Piccuci (see the next chapter also) Albert LaChance (likewise), and Vancouver legend Gabor Maté ((In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts).

Marnia Robinson’s book on the biology and psychospirituality of sex was first published as Peace Between the Sheets in 2000 and republished in a revised edition as Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow in 2009.  We have also published a compatible title: Eros Ascending: The Life-Transforming Power of Sacred Sexuality by former British rocker and composer of an opera about Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, the one and only John Maxwell Taylor.

Panic: Origins, Insight, and Treatment, a large and diverse anthology, was developed in house in the spirit of Io by then-employee Brooke Warner.

We also initiated publishing in the new convergent field of Energy Psychology (bringing together conventional psychology with chi gung, bodywork, gestalt, and martial arts in one framework).  Our first title was appropriately Energy Psychology: Self-Healing Practices for Bodymind Health by innovator Michael Mayer.

G. Ecology.

We started with the Oecology Issue of Io in 1970.  That became the basis for two later Io anthologies, both title Ecology and Consciousness, the 1970s one with no subtitle and the 1980s one with the subtitle: Traditional Wisdom on the Environment. In sections marked Life and Spirit, Animal and Mind, Planet and Politics, and Evolution and Cosmos, the latest of the three anthologies added new material to the top hits from the first two, as it combined poets like Robert Kelly, Charles Olson (the sun), Joanne Kyger, Diane di Prima (the very high and radical Revolutionary Letter No. 63), Michael McClure (“Wolf Net”), Edward Dorn (“Vira Untwists the Murch” on DNA from outer space), and Gary Snyder with scientists of different ilks like Roy A. Rappaport (“Sanctity and Adaptation”), Gregory Bateson (form, substances, and difference), Peggy Beck (the fool and the beginning of wisdom), R. Buckminster Fuller (on the tides of Fundy), Jacques Vallee (pancakes delivered by UFO), and Jule Eisenbud (psi phenomena).  Harvey Bialy wrote on “the I Ching and the genetic code” as both a scientist and a poet.  There were also psychospiritual writings from Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove (the wise wound, the black goddess and the unseen real), Stanley Keleman (the living chain of life), Chogyam Trungpa (the meaning of life), Thomas Merton (the sacred city), and Wilhelm Reich (cosmic superimposition).

Subsequent ecological undertakings included (early on) Rappaport’s academic anthology Ecology, Meaning, and Religion (see Chapter Two), Nancy Jack and John Todd’s From Eco-Cities to Living Machines: Principles of Ecological Design (the first edition for Sierra Club Books, as noted, the second put together by our son Robin who studied with John during his college years), and Richard Register’s classic illustrated Ecocity Berkeley, the introduction of the ecocity concept into the environmental literature.

In later years we have published Deep Ecology Movement by Alan Drengson and Yuichi Inoue; Green Earth Guide (two volumes): Traveling Naturally in France/…..Spain by Dorian Yates; Meadowlark Economics: Collected Essays on Ecology, Community, and Spirituality by James Eggert; Sustainable Sushi: A Guide to Saving the Oceans One Bite at a Time by Casson Trenor; and (see below in Art): Green Design: Creative Sustainable Designs for the Twenty-First Century by Marcus Fairs and Wild Design: Ecofriendly Innovations Inspired by Nature by Alan Marshall.  These titles pretty much speak for themselves.

Our biggest ecological title of all time was a 2010 anthology put together by dancer Martin Keogh.  It arrived at North Atlantic only after it was turned down by many large commercial presses as too dark: Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World. It is not any darker than not facing the situation, in fact far less dark than that.  Martin asked the question: In a time of environmental crisis, how can we live right now? He posed it to scientists and spiritual teachers, his contributors as diverse as Barry Lopez, Paul Hawken, Wendell Berry, Alice Walker, Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, and Diane Ackerman.  People respond with varying degrees of despair and hope, but everyone deals with the overriding issue of how we live now, how we live at all, how we live in spite of (despite) everything and anything.  The collection as a whole is a showstopper.

A curious sidelight.  Between our designer and Martin we ran up a couple of thousand dollars in rejected covers when he called me for fresh ideas.  After a long dry spell, I got a curious breakthrough.  I suggested using half creatures against a white background with the call to question highlighted.  By “half creatures” I mean half a bee and half a fish, cut off by the outer margin of the book itself.  Martin hated it at first, saying, “I certainly wouldn’t buy a book like that.”  I wasn’t sure myself that this was a good idea, but in publication the cover truly catches up with the literal cutting edge of the subject in what-now-seems the only possible way that it could have.  (See also Chapter Eleven.)

H. Literature, Memoir, Oral History

Having started as a purely literary publisher, we should have more chops than we do as a home of fine fiction.  But it’s like blue blood or Mayflower lineage—either you either are or you aren’t, and we ain’t.  No matter that we have an unassailable Black Mountain pedigree and a prominent literary magazine as a forerunner; no matter that Jonathan Lethem was our first employee or that our old friends and connections include Michael Ondaatje, Russell Banks, Robert Kelly, Joyce Carol Oates, and Paul Auster; no matter that we launched Stephen King and Jayne Anne Phillips (albeit both unintentionally) and published Diane di Prima’s Selected Poems and Bernadette Mayer’s Memory on our maiden NEA voyages in the seventies or David Henderson, “da old Mayor of Harlem,” or NYC policeman-poet Phillip Mahony in the eighties; no matter that I shared a podium with John Ashbery as co-readers for the 1975 Chicago Poetry Festival.  No boast intended here, the Ashbery event was a hundred-percent fluke.  I also read with Duncan and Allen Ginsberg at Kent State.  It meant nothing historically or aesthetically.  The press simply does not have usable literary currency.

We are too commercial with the wrong books—too New Agey, martial-artsy, and thus we are perceived as unhip in the literary world.  Even the old illusion that Grossinger’s Resort and Country Club had something to do with our origins is an unspoken albatross in hip New York literary circles—we are not Third World and up-from-the-projects enough to earn any real DIY (Do It Yourself) street cred.  Our daughter even changed her name to Miranda July, in order (in part) to break her link with this history and get to create her own origins.  Other possibilities:

My own writing of too many books that are (as well) out of fashion…?  Being called North Atlantic while on the West Coast…?  The confusion with North Point, a “real” literary house…?  The rap on Charles Olson and Robert Duncan as too intellectual…?  The seeming defeat of Black Mountain by the Language poets and fashionable academics…?  The funky fatness of the classic Ios, suggesting indulgence and “nerdville” or “dudhood” by even the most basic tenets of minimalism….  Who knows?  It is imponderable and ineffable.  You are or you aren’t, and we have never been.  Never beaten the rap.  I am now derisive of my appearances with Ashbery and Ginsberg.  I would agree: I wasn’t ready then, I didn’t have the confidence of voice, I was still a child with intimations.  Then the whole literary express rushed by, carrying a generation of fashionable, sexy contemporaries on board.  North Atlantic became what it was, apparently, meant to be.

North Atlantic did have a brief run at left-field literary recognition in the early eighties with a novel by Gerald Rosen, Growing up Bronx, which inspired an A+ Sunday New York Times review (see Chapter Twenty-Two for the story).  We had a snippet of subsequent success with a republication of Gino Sky’s magical realist Appaloosa Rising: The Legend of the Cowboy Buddha, originally put out by Doubleday complete with cardboard cutouts declaring Gino the next Tom Robbins (as Robbins would later declare our boy Brezsny).  Appaloosa and its sequel Coyote Silk were strong regional books for us for a while in the Idaho/Wyoming/Utah/Montana outlands—I still love Gino’s picture-filled soap bubbles migrating out of a trombone en masse to Cheyenne.

Elwyn Chamberlain’s Gates of Fire, originally published by Grove, gave us our brief “India erotica slash reincarnation flash,” but after the passage of more than twenty years since its publication, we have yet to sell even 100 copies of Hound Dog, Chamberlain’s far more touching and page-turning novel about a cloning scientist reincarnated as a puppy in a litter of a Vietnam-vet marijuana farmer. Not that it would have necessarily made the difference, but I never should have allowed Wynn to change his title from The Revenge of Julius B. Nibble, a passable meme, to something that can only resonate Elvis, and poorly at that, for at least another century.

As noted earlier, Rob Brezsny’s first novel Televisionary Oracle (2000) went on a rock-star tour with him to the tune of 6000 copies, but he was disappointed in his non-Springsteen numbers.   What people don’t realize is that more than 80% of all novels publish don’t crack half that.

We recently published a deep and textured novel about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, balanced from both sides, Al-Naqba: The Catastrophe by Barbara Goldscheider, but how you sell such a thing, even when it’s good, is beyond me.  Again, there is an ineffable magic that catapults such a book into visibility and then word-of-mouth wildfire and then cult-hood.  Well, this was a real candidate for such a journey, but it never even got out of Bangor, Maine, the city to which the author emigrated after her embattled decades in Jerusalem.

We have done better with literary memoirs.  Bruce Jenkins’ biography of his father, Goodbye: In Search of Gordon Jenkins, has resonance in the pop-music world, especially Sinatra circles. Cutting Remarks: Insights and Recollections of a Surgeon by Sidney M. Schwab, M.D., is a funny, acerbic, revealing look at his own medical training— “A surgeon can kill you, and you’ll sleep right through it.”  Sid lived down the hall from me freshman year at Amherst, which is how North Atlantic ended up with this unlikely mainstream, non-alternative-med book.  A few years earlier we published an equally unlikely title by his room-mate of the time, Alan Powers.  After Lindy and I went on a walk with Al and heard him whistling back to the trees, we suggested that he make a book out of it.  The outcome, Bird Talk: Conversations with Birds, is not a memoir as much as an extended essay on bird languages, music, code, and human speech.

We published Tom Clark’s literary biography, Edward Dorn: A World of Difference, after republishing his much-maligned Charles Olson: The Allegory of a Poet’s Life, because these two poets (Olson and Dorn) lie at the core of our publishing cosmology.  We had less than zero success with both (if such is possible)[2], maybe because, to the aficionados, the books have more to do with Tom than their subjects.  I realize now that Tom C brilliantly conflated both literary figures into cyborgs with himself, spouting his own cynical paranoid homilies and sound bites through them and sprawling toward his painful assignation with some other cosmic epiphany.  No wonder neither of these had any traction and had to be pulped.  At least Terry Leach can hang onto his extra copies of his co-authored bio with Tom, stored now for the occasional card nostalgia show at the furniture-moving warehouse he runs outside West Palm Beach with his wife’s ex-husband.  Tom captured the Alabama native brilliantly at the place where the Bible meets Mark Twain and both meet American beisbol.

Speaking of which, we more recently republished Darryl Brock’s incredible time-travel baseball novels (going back to the Cincinnati origins of the sport and even including Mark Twain as a character).  If I Never Get Back and Two in the Field belong on any list of the ten best baseball novels ever; on most lists in the first half; and on some holding the number-one slot—but the market must not know that yet.

A memoir of not only literary but shamanic interest is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castaneda by Amy Wallace.  The daughter of novelist Irving Wallace, Amy was Castaneda’s mistress.  He and her father shared an agent, which is how the two met and, after her father’s death, the Yaqui shaman (or fabricator—take your choice; she did, and I think you can guess) told Amy that her father asked him to look after her.  If he in fact did, I doubt that he meant that way.

Her book is a startling exposé of a former culture hero folded into a kinky love story.  Though Wallace got a huge advance for the project from Simon and Schuster, they finally declined, as Castaneda’s publisher, to associate themselves with something that portrayed their homie in such a negative light.  She brought the book to us because, in the early nineties, we were the publisher of The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power by Diana Alstad and Joel Kramer, an admired polemic in anti-guru circles.

Though we publish many positive books on guruship, we also got behind this scathing critique of corruption in authoritarian religions and spiritual cults.  The Guru Papers has been through seven printings and is even more relevant today than it was at the time of its release almost fifteen years ago, as the world is perilously scissored between competing authoritarian religious and pseudo-religious regimes exercising political and military power, ruling by fundamentalism and jihad.  Kramer and Alstad recently followed The Guru Papers with a revised and dramatically expanded version of The Passionate Mind, Kramer’s old book of spiritual and psychological advice for those navigating troubled times.

We also bombed with a Neglected Languages international translation series also known as Scala Fiction series after the Seattle publisher with whom we copublished many of the titles. We shared Scala’s Slovenian obsession after our own trip there and a string of wonderful works followed: Guarding Hanna by Miha Mazzini (see “Europe Travel Journal 2006” on this website), The Feline Plague by Maja Novak, Angels Beneath the Surface: A Selection of Contemporary Slovene Fiction, edited by Mitja Cander and Tom Priestly, and the one success, a forties Slovenian novel about assassins in Persia, Alamut by Vladimir Bartol.  We also published a Slovenian memoir by an American (Erica Johnson Debeljak: Forbidden Bread), a Sri Lankan novel, Bringing Tony Home by Tissa Abeysekara, and an Iranian anthology: Belonging: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World, edited by Niloufar Talebi.

Alamut, the basis for a video game called Assassin’s Creed, is a brilliant paradox, as I wrote in its back cover: “A twentieth-century Slovenian novelist living in Trieste drew characters from eleventh-century Persia and wove an allegory of the fascism engulfing Europe at the dawn of World War II.  In the twenty-first century, in a triumph of metathesis and anachronism worth of Jorge Luis Borges, the allegory has become more real that the events it portrayed.

“If you want to know how suicide bombers are being cultivated in Basra and Hebron even as you read these words, if you want to learn the true story behind the 72 virgins awaiting al-Qaeda’s martyrs in paradise, Alamut is the training manual.  Bartol tells you who whose women are, how they got there, and why young men are willing to die for their company.”

I think it is near impossible for an unsubsidized press to compete for international fiction.  Mark White, the publisher of Scala, gave us the benefit of his years of research and experience, but we still blundered, although I will stand by all those books as works of literature, just not as commercial novels (average sale around 2o0 books with some below 100).  The surprise was that even Slovenians in America wanted to read anything but.  Well, not really a surprise after all….

I. Art

We are not an artbook publisher, so the exceptions must belie the rule.  When great ones have come along, we haven’t blinked at the price tag, and we have some treasures:

Axial Stones: An Art of Precarious Balance by George Quasha, Foreword by Carter Ratcliff.  George Quasha, poet, publisher of Station Hill Press, and recent recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, has developed his own Andy-Goldsworthy-like genre, based on balancing giant rocks in unusual ways.  He adopts a principle of aesthetics and internal chi that he developed in part as a martial artist and Buddhist meditator.  Art in America reviewer Carter Ratcliff validates this genre’s originality and relevance in his introductory essay.

George has been the most avant-garde of avant-garde poets.  He headed in linguistically innovative directions years before the language poets; then he became a performance artist, video-maker, conceptual artist, and collaborator along with Chuck Stein with multimedia star Gary Hill.

Axial Stones marks the blossoming of all his artforms and spiritual practices into one syncretic genre.  The concept behind these sculptures is purely George and pretty much original.  These stones have no business standing upright, let alone distributing their incredible weights; yet they do and are even hard to dislodge.  The underlying axial principles are the source of Quasha’s art and philosophy.  Others have balanced rocks; no one else that I know of has tied it to poetry, chi gung, and axial energy, or developed a philosophy and principle of aesthetics out of it. The book is also designed and laid out axially as an installation in print.

George, as alluded to in Chapter Six, has been an Io/NAB associate since the early seventies and is so closely affiliated with us that: 1. He, Chuck, Harvey Bialy, and I have occasionally been thrown together as a small post-Black Mountain, sub-Robert Kelly subset of the literary universe; and 2. Station Hill, the press started by GQ and his wife Susan, a student of Olson’s during his venue at UConn, is modeled to a large degree on Io/North Atlantic with its literarature-anthropology-consciousness mix.  Chuck Stein was in fact for many years Station Hill’s managing editor and NAB’s main consultant.

As Station Hill Press became less central to George and Susan’s daily activities, which turned more artiste and Dzogchen in active participatory ways (hence GQ’s Guggenheim), Susan has transitioned into one of NAB’s main book designers.

We have had our problems working with George and Station Hill over the years, but Axial Stones marks a transcendence of all the past negatives into a realization of our shared world-view.  Likewise, Susan’s participation as a NAB designer has partially merged the two presses into one larger enterprise.

Axial Stones is not a commercial book—in fact it is one of our biggest money losers all time despite Station Hill’s production collaboration—but it was well worth the resources and energy.  After all, it invents simultaneously an artform and an aesthetic science.  (See also Chapter Eleven.)

Graffito by Michael Walsh.  Splashed, spliced, and cobbled in the mid-nineties by a graduate student at the California College of Arts and Crafts and his buddies, this cinematically conceived, bright-splashed presentation of graffiti art in a graffiti-like setting is also a sociology book that is graffiti.  It arrived as an unsolicited full-color manuscript in the late nineties on the same day as Mars: The Living Planet by Barry DiGregorio. We had never previously accepted two randomly arriving books in one day, and the topics were so different in content and tone that they were probably meant to be an odd couple, to be viewed in each other’s context and sponsor each other in our affections at the transom.   I mean, aren’t those things on Mars graffiti?  Unless they are bacterial fossils?

The true Martian graffiti concept would have to await our publication of George Haas and William Saunders’ Cydonia Codex a decade later.

The Printer’s Catch: An Artist’s Guide to the Pacific Coast Edible Marine Animals by Christopher M. Dewees.   An example of the Japanese art of gyotaku (printing by using actual bodies of fish), this book sold in museums and aquariums along the West Coast where Lindy and I saw it during the early 1990s, were charmed, and bought the rights from Sea Challengers, the prior small publisher.  We never were able to duplicate their prior sales trajectory or create another.

A Child’s Life (foreword by R. Crumb) and Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner.  The first is a mixed black-and-white and color retrospective of the artist’s work, and the second is her black-and-white graphic novel.  Gloeckner has become one of the two or three leading female cartoonists in the country, while she remains a medical illustrator of the highest precision and pedigree

At the time that we met her, Gloeckner was a relatively obscure cartoonist in Oakland, earning her living by drawing organs and diseases.  Unable to acquire much in the way of avant-garde literature by young radical women (for instance, like our daughter Miranda), we went instead for an equally edgy and original graphic artist who was uncourted at the time.  Even before we published her, Phoebe had a loyal cult and street following.  Two days after we signed her, two other publishers rushed in offers.  Confirmation of our talent-scouting, but whew!

Soon after we began publishing Phoebe, she got married and followed her scientist husband to Stony Brook.  She currently teaches art as a full professor at the University of Michigan.[3]

Both books deal with a girl’s journey through San Francisco hipster culture.  A Child’s Life was initially rejected by most bookstores for its vivid “leave nothing out” depiction of Gloeckner’s childhood abuse by her mother’s boyfriend and other adolescent adventures.  However, it has since become accepted as a mainstream classic.  Cultural journalist Peggy Orenstein introduced a large, illustrated feature story on Gloeckner, her art, and her harassment by censorship in the August 5, 2001 Sunday New York Times Magazine.  See Chapter Twenty-Two for a further discussion of Phoebe and the censorship issues.

Damanhur: Temples of Humankind by Sylvia Buffagni, foreword by Alex Grey.  North Atlantic Books launched a copublishing venture with the spiritual artist Alex Grey’s press COSM (Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, which recently moved from 540 W. 27th Street to Wappingers Falls, New York).  Damanhur is a bold, grand illustrated vista of the architecture and art of the underground temples in the spiritual community outside Turin, Italy.

We have subsequently published a combination Damanhur guidebook/graphic novel. The Traveler’s Guide to Damanhur: The Amazing Northern Italian Eco-Society contains a full-color graphic novel depicting the founding of Damanhur and its history.  Its highlight is an illustrated splash of the Italian authorities, agitated by the Church of Rome (sniffing out possible pagan rites, including these gigantic temples inside a mountain) and then showing up with carboneri demanding entrance.  When refused by the Damanhurians, they threaten to blow up the whole sacred complex, but then the founder, Falco, ascends in astral body to the Earth’s noosphere and consults with ascended avatars who give him permission to admit the heathen and open the buildings to the world.

Note: Damanhur thus far has a happy ending, though the overall situation of the Earth bearing such temples, explicit and otherwise, through space and time still hangs in the balance, as we all know.

On reading my travel writing about our visit there in 2006 (see “Europe Journal 2006” on this webiste), Robert Kelly remarked that Damanhur sounded like something we might have invented for the 1967 Alchemy Issue of Io. And if Kelly didn’t know about the existence of this Northern Italian temple complex, who did?  The travel piece appeared in our anthology, and what follows is a short excerpt:

Damanhur cannot be foreseen.  Inside a large hill is an architecture and series of temples and exhibition halls that defies description.  Imagine New York City’s entire Metropolitan Museum of Art taken apart and then reassembled in chambers leading up through a mountain.  It is not, of course, that immense but, unless you think in that scale, you can’t get it.  It may not be that vast in terms of pure space, but the Metropolitan Museum is a tomb of cultures, a dead repository for tridents, prayersticks, and chalices that were once powerful.  The Temples at Damanhur are a living organism that is so massive on an astral plane that it dwarfs the Metropolitan or any other terrestrial museum.  And the temples are quite colossal and complicated in an ordinary sense as well.  It is hard to believe that such a thing exists on Earth and so few people know about it.

The Temples are also networked by “wireless” globes of alchemical salts in fluids set into nodes cut in walls, culminating with an array of them in the Hall of Waters, each glowing with a different spagyric color.  In addition many designs and shapes at sites throughout the catacomb carry instructions or transmit information in a secret language.  These receive transgalactic and interdimensional messages, heal body-minds, and transform consciousness.

The cumulative feeling is of walking through a gigantic UFO or the etheric body of a crop circle, instructions engraved on and into its morphology.  The very structure and shape of the machine are cuing one constantly to the higher dimensional space and time through which it is passing.

A super-alchemy runs this complex, founder Falco’s selfic technology, culminating in an operating hermetic city as might have been pictured by Pico della Mirandola or Robert Fludd.  Falco uses the word “selfic” instead of the traditional “radionic” to describe his wireless transdimensional machinery.

Art Psalms by Alex Grey.  We subsequently published Alex’s notebook of paintings, sketches, poems, and spiritual meditations, in the tradition of William Blake.  This work establishes Alex as a publisher and book-maker as well as what he indisputably was in his former volumes: an original blend of a painter, spiritual teacher, and performance artist.

Wild Design: Ecofriendly Innovations Inspired by Nature by Alan Marshall.  This is a book compilation of a Biomimicry project based in rural Australian and the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe.  Biomimetic Nanobots, Crustacean Helmets, Flying Squirrel Walkway Systems, Radiolaria Fabric Designs, and Beetle Bus Shelters are among the color plates of ecological designs that draw their mechanics and technology from wild creatures and natural ecosystems.

I. Gender. This topic is strewn throughout our list, and we also have some standout titles: True Secrets of Lesbian Desire: Keeping Sex Alive in Long-Term Relationships by Renate Stendhal; Gaia and the New Politics of Love: Notes for a Poly Planet by Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio; Keep Your Wives Away from Them: An Anthology of Writing by and about Orthodykes edited by Miriam Kabakov; and Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in the Jewish Community, edited by Noach Dzmura.

8. Packaged Books/Cookbooks

Packaged books by overseas presses are tempting because they are already done, usually in beautiful high-design, but they are likely fool’s gold, stamped and addressed for the remainder table without your suspecting it.

Packaging is a hybrid process that allows a publisher in a country with a smaller, usually English-speaking market (like England, Australia, Iceland, or Israel) to create a template, usually an expensive color format one and, while distributing its title locally, to run additional copies in much greater quantities for other international markets, particularly the populous and book-friendly U.S.

Usually an English text remains identical, though sometimes Americanized for spelling (favor/favour) and usage (eggplant/aubergine).  If the book is global and marketable, a wide assortment of languages can be fit into the basic template so that the same four-color images may be spliced into multiple editions and languages.  Because of these large textless color press runs, the unit cost plummets way down and the book can be manufatured cost-effectively in all markets.  A packaged book may cost us half what it would to generate the same quality of material in the same press run ourselves, but of course the trade-off is that what we inherit has limited rights, and we get a lot of inventory in order to preserve a low unit cost.

There is not, of course, a polarity between books of cutting-edge, noncommercial, social value and books of craven commercial ambition; there is a gradient—a gradient that may even be interpreted quite differently before a book is published than once it is exposed in the market.

Every book, even the most commercial or most purely esoteric and aesthetic, has some components of the opposite quality, even as all water has some component of earth and vice versa.  We try to strike a balance in our list, book by book, season by season and as a whole, in a way that allows us to stay true to our principles and yet succeed as a business (as per Chapter Four).

Our most successful packaged books have been martial arts, nutrition, and somatics.  We have done krav maga, Brazilian jiu jitsu, and capoeira with Dekel Press in Israel.  We have put our imprint on anatomy books, including The Concise Book series (…of Muscles, …of Trigger Points, …of the Moving Body) by Lotus Press in England; and we have picked up various karate, aikido, Ayurvedic, and macrobiotic books from different British publishers like New Holland and Carroll & Brown.

Some of our packaged and commercial books have been bonanzas, but just as high a percentage of them as of our so-called “noncommercial books” is duds (check out The New Natural Family Doctor from Gaia or The Secrets of The Avebury Stones, Echinacea, and St. Johns Wort from Souvenir for total, unmitigated disasters).

A notable non-niche packaged import of recent years is The Healthy Jewish Cookbook by Michael van Straten, very lush and colorful but not particularly cutting-edge unless you consider healthiness and Jewish cooking an engaging oxymoron.  I persuaded my stepmother, Bunny Grossinger, to write the preface as a throwback to my grandmother Jennie Grossinger’s once-popular Art of Jewish Cooking. That book was so popular during my high-school years and she was on television so often that, unfortunately, my nickname became Jennie.

A new packaged book is Marcus Fairs’ Green Design: Creative Sustainable Designs for the Twenty-First Century. This title runs the gamut from interior and exterior architecture to transportation to salvaged furniture, textiles, and ultra-lightweight materials.

The Galaxy Global Eatery Hemp Cookbook by Denis Cicero was not packaged but copublished with the author, the owner of the restaurant of that name at 15 Irving Place in Manhattan, in hopes of a big local Manhattan sale but also because its contemporary subtopics (hemp as a healthy herb and rainforest foods for sustainable development a global cookery) have the social, political, and therapeutic ramifications of our Mission Statement.  Yet the book has done even worse than the worst prognosis and, because the author/restauranteur was unwilling to discount it through his restaurant, the project died in hardcover without ever seeing the light of paper.

This suggests another axiom: do not let an author talk you into hardcover for a book that should be done in paperback only. Some authors are veritable Sirens singing to their publishers for a hardcover (For what? for honor? for review attention? for proof that they are really publishing? as a trophy bride?)—and they always swear that, if we can’t move them, they can sell the copies all by themselves because they have a foolproof market.

Do not listen.  Do not ever believe them.  PGW told us that this hemp book had real promise in paper, but no market at all—zero, goose-egg—in hardcover.  Yet Denis was so insistent on the hardcover and so sure of its success that we caved, even at the abandonment of our own axiom, believing that, if worse came to worse, the restauranteur could always sell them off to loyal customers at unit cost and get us both a fresh start in paper.

In general, it is always good to return to Go (if you can): get a fresh swing at a failed book in a new edition or format—change the title, change the cover, change a portion of the inside, put on a new ISBN as a firewall between it and the earlier edition. I always assumed that this was how we would salvage Galaxy Global…. To this day I don’t understand why Denis declined to discount it at his establishment; his reasons to me were dubious: customers would steal the book (so what if you can’t remainder it for even fifteen cents a book!); it disses a beautiful book to sell it in public at twenty percent of the cover price; and the famous chestnut: it’s your fault for not marketing it properly, you owe to me to try again on your own dime.

I remain convinced that we could have hawked 2000 or more at $6 to New York diners and fans and gotten $12,000 to do the paperback.  And, no, we couldn’t have somehow marketed it magically into commerciality otherwise.  It was never a matter of insubstantial marketing; it was the wrong package at the wrong price for the market.  Maybe Chez Panisse takes the high road with its dancing cookbooks (in fact, always), but the Galaxy Global Eatery with its hemp and sustainable-development mantra, socially responsible low prices, and menus shaped like old vinyl records was not a $30 hardcover market.

A more successful, somewhat parallel cookbook was our first such eatery-affiliated title: Thai Cooking from the Siam Cuisine Restaurant by Diana Hiranaga, Kwanruan Aksomboom, and Somchai Aksomboom.  It has been a mainstay of our company through thirteen printings since Charlie Winton directed the authors to us in the early 1990s.[4]

We house a variety of other regional and specialty cookbooks.  By far the most successful is Portuguese Cooking: The Authentic and Robust Cuisine of Portugal by Carol and David Robertson.  We have published three other poorly selling cookbooks by the same couple: Mediterranean Soups, Turkish Cooking, and Vegetarian Turkish Cooking. I don’t know why Portugal kicks Turkey’s butt in the marketplace from top to bottom; I would have expected the reverse.

Our other regional cookbooks are Indonesian Flavors by Susan Anderson and The Folk Art of Japanese Country Cooking: A Traditional Diet for Today’s World by Gaku Homma.  Aikido master and chef, Gaku Homma runs the afore-mentioned Domo Restaurant, Japanese Cultural Center, and Aikido Dojo, since relocated to Cherokee Street in Denver (see Chapter Two).  If you eat at the restaurant, you get to tour the cultural center and watch the aikido while waiting for your food.

We have published two cookbooks based on Omega 3 oils: Coconut Cookery by Valerie MacBean and The Magic of Chia: Revival of an Ancient Wonder Food by James F. Scher.

Of course, our biggest cookbook/eatery success is the nutrition topic, ranging from Paul Pitchford and Gabriel Cousens to Avocado Wolfe and the folks at Café Gratitude with whom we have four already-mentioned successful titles, including I Am Grateful, Sweet Gratitudes, and Sacred Commerce.

Chapter 10: The North Atlantic Books List 4: Authors Not Sufficiently Covered Elsewhere | Table of Contents


We copublished another, more significant book by Michael Lerner, with his magazine, Tikkun: Healing Israel/Palestine.
I feel as though more people are angry with us for publishing them than there were copies sold.
You know you’ve made it as a publisher when you move Bob Frissell from a grungy apartment in Oakland to a big house Marin, and then Napa, and you transform Phoebe Gloeckner from an Oaktown freelancing single mom to a distinguished professor at a major university.
This restaurant, on University Avenue in Berkeley, has since been sold by the owners and renamed @Thai Cuisine.

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