LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Save the University of Missouri Press

Thursday, May 31, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:42 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 20, 2012

An open letter to University of Missouri System President Timothy Wolfe:

I write today to implore you to find any other tactic, rather than close the University of Missouri Press.

I owe the Press the official launch of my life as an artist: It accepted and published my first book of literary fiction "Boys Keep Being Boys: Stories," thirteen years ago.

Though I came to my writing life comparatively late, it has been a life-changing gift — for my readers, I dare hope, as well as for myself — and the Press' validation is fixed securely at its heart.

"A service to the fiction community," was how the Press' then-editor termed its embrace of my work. My story collection went on to be nominated for several fine awards and was reviewed glowingly in the New York Times Book Review.

The hard fact of present-day literary art is that it's the small, independent and university presses who are single-handedly rescuing new and emerging writers from the chaotic neglect of what few major publishing houses remain. These small, independent operations shine as the sole, brave curators of art that matters. We must ensure they will continue as such, informing and illuminating successive generations of American writers and readers.

Please do not let this vital light die.

I owe the foundation of my life as an artist to the Press and its excellent staff. Please do not cut them off. This will be a true tragedy — and you will always be remembered as that tragedy's author and instigator.

Please let the Press continue to make necessary, important work — and to pull new and emerging American writers into the lifeboat of legitimacy.

Joan Frank is a full-time author who lives in Santa Rosa, Calif.

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Richard Saunders May 31, 2012 | 5:05 p.m.

Someone should tell her about the Internet, the disruptive technology that will send printing on trees to the same place as the buggy-whip industry.

I notice she made no mention of donating any her money to the endeavor, even though it's benefited her greatly. Nope, she demands that others pay.

Meanwhile, not only is printed media going away, but so is physical digital media. Blu-ray will likely be the last mass physical option to exist, as data storage will migrate fully into the cloud once connectivity becomes universal.

(Report Comment)
Corl Leach May 31, 2012 | 7:59 p.m.

Interestingly, for all the sentimentalism Joan Frank urges, including finding "alternate tactics" to keep the University Press open, all of her subsequent writings were given to other publishers. Why believe the wailing of one that didn't demonstrate loyalty and through whose abandonment likely contributed to the downfall of the institution she insists others keep afloat?

2006: "Miss Kansas City". Univ of Michigan Press. Ann Arbor, MI.
2007: "The Great Far Away". Permanent Press. Sag Harbor, NY.
2010: "In Envy Country". Univ of Notre Dame Press. Notre Dame, IN.
2012: "Make It Stay". Permanent Press. Sag Harbor, NY.

(Report Comment)

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