Declarations of independence

Ten great titles from underground presses.

This week, TONY gives props to some of New York City’s best independent publishers—Ugly Duckling, Akashic, Calamari Press and Two Dollar Radio. Some of their books are for readers with rarefied tastes (obscure Eastern European poetry, anyone?). But others deserve a wide readership. So below, we list ten favorite recent and soon-to-be-released indie-press books. We considered publishers from throughout the U.S., and we allowed book a book from Soft Skull Press—even though that publisher was recently bought by the Perseus Group, it still plans to publish some stellar books that you’ll never find reviewed in The New York Times.

1. Wide Eyed
By Trinnie Dalton
Little House on the Bowery/Akashic Books
So-Cal stories with a penchant for young slackers, fabulistic narratives and magic mushrooms.

2. Attempts at a Life
By Danielle Dutton
Tarpaulin Sky Press
Short, philosophical prose poems about literature, landscapes and more.

3. Denny Smith
By Robert Glück
Clear Cut Press

A story collection with intricate meditations on sex, mild-mannered self-consciousness and stunning sentences.

4. Citizen Of
By Christian Hawkey
Wave Books
Clever, politically motivated and well-hewn verse driven by dream logic.

5. The Open Curtain
By Brian Evenson
Coffee House Press
A Mormon teen discovers the darker side of his sect and then loses his mind in this adventurous thriller.

6. Eeeee Eee Eeee
By Tao Lin
Melville House
Talking bears and celebrity-obsessed assassins meander through this novel about suburban disaffection.

7. Like Son
By Felicia Luna LemusAkashic Press
A young man in L.A. moves to the East Village in this multilayered, gender-bent tale of obsession.

8. Partial List of People to Bleach
By Gary Lutz
Future Tense Books
Masterfully gnarled prose from a twisted mind.

9. Now Voyagers
By James McCourt
Turtle Point Press
The about-to-be-published sequel to his debut opera novel of madcap lyricism, Mawrdew Czgowchwz.

10. The Age of Sinatra
By David Ohle
Soft Skull Press
Mind-bending sci-fi dystopia from the author of the cult classic Motorman.

And three to watch out for in Fall 2007 and Spring 2008:

* Piss Town Chaos
By David Ohle
Soft Skull Press
The latest apocalyptic visions by the cult author.

* It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature
By Diane Williams
New, ultra-compressed stories by a kindred spirit of Lydia Davis.

* The Drop Side of Yonder
By Rudolph Wurlitzer
Two Dollar Radio
Imagine a Western written by Samuel Beckett.

Have your own favorite off-the-grid books? Tell us about them in the comment area below.