Who has the chutzpah and writing chops to hand sell autobiographical short stories in the subway tunnel at Grand Central Station?
Adrian Margaret Brune, step forward.
Brune, a Brooklyn-based journalist, recently joined a growing stable of authors publishing their work online with Atticus Books. In the next few days, Atticus will post three installments of Brune’s work-in-progress, Worse for Wear, on the Atticus Books website.
“We’re delighted to have Ms. Brune become part of our experiment of eventually producing an online serialized novel,” said Dan Cafaro, founder and publisher of Atticus Books. “This is an e-content delivery mechanism that we, as a small press, will explore full tilt.”
Publishing serial novels online has been around for more than a decade. The original free cyber book (or online novel) is believed to be The Magic Life: A Novel Philosophy by Ace Starry. First published online in 1995, The Magic Life, a motivational novel about living life to your own expectations, was a finalist in the 1998 Hemingway First Novel Competition.
In 2000, the immensely popular Stephen King published a serialized novel, The Plant, online, bypassing print publication. At first it was presumed by the public that King had abandoned the project because sales were unsuccessful, but he later stated that he had simply run out of stories. The unfinished epistolary novel is still available from King’s official site, now free.
In recent years, Asian readers have clamored to embrace the writing and publishing of fiction in a serial format on handheld devices, Cafaro said. “Now, American and English language readers are increasingly showing that same desire, be it through e-book downloads or online chapbooks. We plan on satisfying that still untapped demand.”
Brune has a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and has published work in The Nation, The New York Times, and Chicago Tribune Magazine. She also has had it tough surviving what she calls “the economic/journalistic slump without dropping things on people while serving as a waitress.”
Brune’s enterprise, “Short Stories for the Long Ride Home,” has proven her resourcefulness in a cyclical, volatile economy. In 2003, her “performance art” mixed in with her protest of an undeniably indifferent publishing industry proved a compelling enough story in itself to be reported in a column in The New York Times. Seven years later, Brune is at it again.
“Some think it’s crazy; some think it’s cool,” Brune said of her subway station enterprise. “My response to the publishing industry: Short Stories for the Long Ride Home.”
In April, she returned to the subways with a series of rewritten stories and the beginning of a memoir, the latter of which Atticus Books has agreed to publish, in parts, online. Brune’s unromantic memoir is the all-too-true story of her emotional struggle with alcohol addiction. An unencumbered ride of relapses and self-discovery, the book details both the pain and bewilderment of overcoming a chemically altered state and adjusting to a new, personal world order.
Reporting from the confines of a Connecticut rehab, Brune writes with the forcefulness of a drowning woman’s plea—she rips back the veil of a widespread malady and dissects many of life’s pervasive themes, such as loss and redemption. This sobering, yet vibrant account of her 28-day stay at rehab, following three lapses, reads like a fresh, unassuming exposé of a long-rooted societal illness.
Atticus Books is a small press based in Kensington, Md., a close-in Washington, D.C. suburb. Atticus specializes in genre-busting, literary fiction, creative non-fiction prose, and other narratives that feature memorable main characters whose voices resonate long after the final line is spoken.