For almost 40 years now, the publishing group known as Fiction Collective has been a vital wild limb of new American literature. Founded in 1974 by a group of young, innovative writers including novelist Ronald Sukenick, as a backlash against “literature defined by a committee, books designed by cereal packagers, marketed by used-car salesmen… and ruled or overruled by accountants,” and later restructured as Fiction Collective 2 in 1989, Fiction Collective has published more than 200 works each of a wholly singular, innovative nature, spanning a breadth of work that constantly updates the possibilities of what can be done with the space between two covers.
Entirely non-profit, free of governmental support, run by a board of artists published by the Collective, dedicated to keeping all of their titles in print, and always producing content of a nature unlikely to be found anywhere else, you couldn’t really ask for more out of a literary institution—ethically or aesthetically. It’s a model for what the cutting edge of a house concerned with new fiction should be.
Over the years, I’ve made it a point to keep up with what FC2 is publishing. Out of the nearly 50 books I’ve digested, it’s always the kind of work you will remember having read. Below is a short list of some of the highlights of that experience.
The Book of Lazarus by Richard Grossman 
Billed as the story of a collision between the Mafia and a weird gang of revolutionaries, The Book of Lazarus is a continually shifting display of the possibility of form and affect in storytelling. Besides its forward and linguistically engaging text, the book gathers weird handwritten crib notes, crude drawings, photography, hyper-shaped paragraphs, and verse to assemble an experience both tricky and spinning in how it works around the reader. “Unlike far too many American writers,” wrote William Vollmann, “Mr. Grossman is deeply interested in ideas—a failing which doubtless will impair his commercial career.”
Hogg by Samuel Delany [1995, re-released 2004]
Originally released on FC2’s Black Ice imprint, a sub-label dedicated to even more unusual writing than their regular press, Hogg is anomaly even among the usual spree of strangeness FC2 is known for. Essentially the story of a young kid sold into sexual slavery and the rapist truck driver he’s dragged around by, the novel is jarring in that it seems to aspire only to the level of a snuff film. It doesn’t seem to give a shit about literary theatrics or fresh language or anything except playing out one brutal reaming after another. It’s almost more revolting for how flat it flows than just how gross it can be, which is a pretty unusual achievement. Shit eating, dick cheese, nails through genitals, cross dressing, violent rednecks: truly an unafraid pig-pile that might challenge the most adventurous of readers.
This publishing collective used to be headquartered at my alma mater, FSU.