Life—when we are not slogging through the interminable and annoying detritus of it; like taxes, traffic, flat tires, kitty’s hair-balls, and the relentlessly vicious onslaught of weeds in the garden, and all the other boring exasperations that fill our days—is made bearable by those ethereal intangibles called hopes and dreams. The Bloomsbury Review was built on a dream—a dream shared by the founder of Blooms, Tom Auer, and his indefatigable sister Marilyn. A simple one, really, that there ought to be a place where extraordinary books would have a place to be reviewed—books flying under the mainstream review media radar from independent presses, university presses, nonprofit presses (and those excellent books that the 800-pound gorilla publishers refuse to promote or advertise). We found the following in Tom’s files, a letter from Anaïs Nin, 1968, (which ties to another of Tom’s dreams, which I’ll get to in a moment):
I would like very much to help you with your thesis on Alan Swallow, but his letters are in a vault in Brooklyn and I have had the flu so I don’t think I’ll be able to do anything about it before I leave on a lecture tour.
As a factual contribution to the problems facing an independent publisher I have a lot to say. Alan Swallow’s problem was mainly that of obtaining reviews from papers who would not review small-press books, or books which were not advertised, and this applies to the New York Times as well as others. He was up against this all the time. It was only when he or I made a friend of someone on a paper that a review might appear. And of course, he could not afford big advertising, and consequently the book shops also would not carry books which were not widely advertised or reviewed. The only papers who disregarded such crass commercialism were the underground papers, such as the Village Voice, the Los Angeles Free Press, and others. We both collaborated on this, helping each other with new contacts, and new friends…
In this you read how Tom’s and Anaïs’ ideas converged in the flowering of a dream—a place where the independent publisher and the unsung author can be seen: The Bloomsbury Review.
The other dream—delayed by Tom’s untimely death—was an examination of the pioneering Alan Swallow—who was prescient enough to first give Anaïs Nin a published voice. The excerpt from the letter above was found in Tom’s massive research files into Swallow’s life. The dream did not die with Tom however—all of his monumental efforts were placed in the hands of W. Dale Nelson who recently published The Imprint of Alan Swallow:Quality Publishing in the West from Syracuse University Press.
Dreams converge. Dreams do come true.