Buried in the belly of Pike Place Market, Chin Music Press’s showroom might just be the best-kept secret of a bookstore in Seattle. It’s a dreamy little shop, carrying just a few dozen titles, almost entirely all published by the local press. You’ll know a Chin Music title when you see one: it’s usually the gorgeous hardcover in the front of the bookstore that you just can’t keep yourself from touching. Publisher Bruce Rutledge seems obsessive about making the design of every Chin Music title as stately as possible.
These are ideal books for a showroom space, and the Pike Place Market shop is a marvel of economy: the storefront also serves as Chin Music’s offices, thereby dragging the mysterious art of publication into the public eye while simultaneously putting the press’s most enthusiastic ambassadors — its publisher and employees — front and center in the bookselling experience. It’s a mystery why more publishers don’t follow their lead and open mini-shops in their offices.
This Saturday, the Chin Music showroom will display work of a different kind as the publisher hosts a reading party for their newest author, Leanne Dunic. The Vancouver writer will read from her lyric novel, To Love the Coming End. Like most of Chin Music’s catalog, Coming End is a book that is interested in the Pacific Rim: it travels around Japan and Singapore and British Columbia — a world of earthquakes and volcanoes and other volatilities of a more personal, less geographic sort.
Two other writers will join the celebration of Dunic’s latest book. Bernard Grant — formerly of Seattle, now attending school in Ohio — will read from his impressive selection of stories and essays. We as a city should carry a collective shame for allowing Grant to move away from here. Read his 2014 essay “Don’t Assume I Know What I’m Saying” at The Nervous Breakdown to see what I mean: this story about Grant’s complicated relationship with his father is so raw that it might strip the skin from your bones. When I first read that story, I found myself white-knuckling the sides of my laptop; if I were a stronger man, I might’ve folded the aluminum keyboard into an accordion shape as I read.
Dunic and Grant will be joined by hometown hero Anca Szilagyi, who press materials refer to as a “fable-mongerer.” Szilagyi is a writer of fiction and essays — her first novel, Daughters of the Air, will be published next year, and the whole city is aflutter with great expectations for it. The best of her work feels like a fairy tale—the sort of thing you’d find handwritten on a tiny scroll you found under a mushroom in the middle of a forest on the longest day of the year.
As most of literary Seattle prepares to downshift for the months of July and August, this reading represents a great opportunity to take stock of the talent this city has fostered, and the talent we’ve let slip away, and the talent living right next door. Where better to host them than a room specifically designed to launch beautiful books into the world?