K. A. Wisniewski

Bob Brown’s Houdini

I’m happy to announce the publication of the latest title from Roving Eye Press: Houdini.  The title is number 5 for Bob Brown’s revamped mobile small press.

Originally published in 1933, Houdini was a pamphlet-length poem / book part of The Modern Edition poetry series, under the editorial direction of Kathleen Tankersley Young.  This new edition includes a Foreword by myself, an Introduction by Craig Saper, and a newly-designed cover by Kristina Markman.

The original cover of Bob Brown’s Houdini (1933).

Bob Brown (1886-1959) was an American author, journalist, publisher, and book collector. Born in Chicago. Brown wrote pulp fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, avant-garde publications, and experimented with a book of visual poetry; he also contributed pieces to various magazines and newspapers in New York City and established journals in Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and London. In 1929, he and his wife temporarily settled in France where they became involved in the expatriate literary community in Paris. While there, he established Roving Eye Press to promote a reading machine that he invented.

His literary works include What Happened to Mary (1913), My Marjonary (1916), The Readies (1930), Globe-Gliding (1930), Words (1931), Gems (1931), Readies for Bob Brown’s Machine (1931), and You Gotta Live (1932). He also wrote or co-wrote a number of best-selling cookbooks, including Let There Be Beer! (1932), The European Cookbook (1936), 10,000 Snacks (1937), The Wine Cook Book (1941), and The Complete Book of Cheese (1955).  There has been much renewed interest and scholarship in recent decades because of his avant-garde literary experiments and his 1930s reading machine.

Roving Eye Press was part of a larger literary and artistic movement of small presses that served the modernist avant-garde. Those presses included Hogarth Press, Ovid Press, Shakespeare & Company, Black Sun Press, Hours Press, and Contact Press, among others.  Roving Eye boasted an impressive circle of readers that included Kay Boyle, Marcel Duchamp, Gertrude Stein, and Langston Hughes.  The press was mobile in both geography (moving with Brown from Diessen to Bad-Ems, in Germany, to Cagnes-sur-mer, France, and much later, in the 1950s, to Staten Island and New York City) and scope (publishing art, poetry, political pamphlets and even cookbooks).

In 2014, a small group of some of Bob Brown’s (Robert Carlton Brown II) great-grandchildren together with a group of scholars re-launched Roving Eye Press. The group has, in turn, commissioned editor-scholars, artist-designers, printers, and production supervisors to start republishing the most important books from Roving Eye Press. It has been an honor to serve as Managing Editor of this press since then!

Our next re-print publication will be Readies for Bob Brown’s Machine (1931) . . . coming 2018.

 

 

 

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