Bill Henderson, founder of the Pushcart Press and the Pushcart Prize, has teamed up with novelist Jonathan Lethem to start Lethem’s Legends, a series that will reprint selected out-of-print works. The first title in the series, which Lethem will edit, is Bad Guy by Rosalyn Drexler, the visual artist, playwright, and novelist.
Henderson and Lethem are neighbors in Blue Hill, Maine, and Henderson told PW that “at some point, we decided together that a series of reprints may be worth a try.” After Lethem sent him a list of books he would like to see republished, Henderson chose Bad Guy, which was first published in 1982 by Dutton. Lethem is a huge fan of Drexler, whom he described in his introduction as “an unspecifiable American original, one of our pure artistic treasure...she ought to be a household name.” Among her many credits, Drexler is a highly regarded pop artist who is also an Obie Award–winning playwright and Emmy Award–winning screenwriter.
Henderson is releasing Bad Guy this week, to coincide with the February 21 opening of a month-long show of Drexler’s work at the Garth Greenan Gallery in New York City, where Drexler, now 93, still lives. In Bad Guy, Drexler “probes the influence of media violence on a young murderer and the wacky attempts of therapist Dr. Mathilda Brody to understand and cure him,” according to the publisher. In praising Bad Guy in his introduction, Lethem wrote that the novel “jangles with the vernacular pizzazz and fragility of the ‘70’s New York City that so many including myself have tried to evoke and reproduce.”
Henderson did a 1,300 copy first printing for the trade paperback, which is being distributed by Pushcart’s distributor, Norton. Bad Guy is the only title scheduled so far for Lethem’s Legends, but Henderson said he has a list of about 12 titles he is considering releasing via the series. He plans to publish two or three additional titles next year, and then will consider putting out more, depending on how the series does.