Buried in the belly of Pike Place Market, Chin Music Press’s showroom might just be the best-kept bookstore secret in Seattle. It’s a dreamy little shop, carrying just a few dozen titles, almost entirely 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 from touching. Publisher Bruce Rutledge seems obsessive about making every title’s design 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 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, hosting a reading party for its newest author, Vancouver’s Leanne Dunic, who’ll read from her lyric novel To Love the Coming End. Like most of Chin Music’s catalog, Dunic’s book is interested in the Pacific Rim; it travels around Japan, Singapore, and British Colombia—a world of earthquakes and volcanoes and other volatilities of a more personal, less geographic sort.
Two other writers will join the celebration. 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 feel a collective shame for allowing Grant to move away. Read his 2014 essay 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 it, 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, whose press materials refer to her 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, 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?
Chin Music Press Showroom, Pike Place Market, 380-1947, chinmusicpress.com. Free. All ages. 5 p.m. Sat., June 10. Paul Constant is co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage at seattlereviewofbooks.com.