Victor David Giron

Curbside Splendor: Publishing and Promoting Urban-Themed Writing

I grew up in Logan Square back in the 1970s, when the neighborhood was predominately populated by first-generation Latino immigrants. My parents came here from Mexico and Guatemala. I didn’t learn to speak English until we moved to Des Plaines, the American "salad bowl" of a suburb, where I was again surrounded by first-generation immigrants, but this time from all sorts of countries.

I now live in Logan Square again. I’m a father of two small boys and a CPA. I've worked for professional services firms and corporations since I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996. I’ve wanted to write a book as long I've been reading them, but in college, when I was originally a philosophy major, I was convinced I needed to pursue a career where I'd be financially secure (hence me becoming a CPA). Throughout my twenties, I experimented with novel ideas, some that progressed a bit, but they all eventually died. Around my 30th birthday, as a way to pass time while on business trips, I began to write down memories from high school. During this time I read High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno. After reading these books, I realized what I could write and began fictionalizing my personal memories. Bam!—my first novel, Sophomoric Philosophy, was born.

It took a few more years to complete, and then a few more with my editor, R.A. Miller, helping me tear it apart and put it back together. During the re-drafting process, Miller suggested I try to write short stories and get them published. This was my first introduction to the world of literary journals and small presses. Chicago Parent Magazine published one of my short pieces in late 2008—my first publication—and my short story “White Hallways” was published in late 2009 by Rougarou, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s literary journal. Rougarou nominated it for the Pushcart Prize that year. That story has since become the first chapter in my next novel, currently titled White Hallways.

I originally started Curbside Splendor just to publish Sophomoric Philosophy, when I realized one could do such a thing. During the process of working with my editor, the designer Karolina Faber, and my friend Gabriel Hurier who did the artwork for the book, I realized I enjoyed publishing and decided to start publishing work by others on the Curbside site. It also seemed that if publishing my book through Curbside Splendor was going to be marginally successful, I needed to make it a small press and not just my own vehicle. I now really enjoy reading submissions, finding ones that fit, and then making them look beautiful and presenting them to other readers.

In March of 2011 we released our first semi-annual print journal, a collection of short stories, poetry, and photography. Our next release, a chapbook of romance poems by Chicago native Charles Bane Jr., beautifully illustrated by Canadian artist Isabelle Pruneau, comes out in July 2011. It’s a bit of a departure from what we’ve done thus far, but it’s consistent in that it marries art with literature.

One of the things I’m most grateful for in my brief adventure into the publishing world is getting to know all the publishers and authors who are doing great work here in Chicago. I never realized there was such a vibrant literary community here, and I’m honored to have been able to read alongside such talented people. I’m part-owner of Beauty Bar Chicago and after being invited to do my first reading last summer by the literary journal Two With Water, I thought Beauty Bar would be a great place to host literary events. I asked TWW if they’d want to have their reading series there. I now co-host it with them and it occurs bimonthly. At Beauty Bar we’re now eager to host all sorts of other literary-oriented events, from fundraisers to dance parties to release parties. I’ve also started a pop-up bookstand, selling books by Chicago authors and presses at the Logan Square Farmers Market. It's another way to help support our independent literary community and promote local literature in Logan Square—a place that is very personal to me. Outside of my work and family life, I’ve dedicated most of my free time to Curbside and am having fun with it. I’ll be at the market every few weeks, as often as I can manage it!

Written in Spring of 2011.

Victor David Giron is the son of immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala. He's a CPA, bar owner, and runs Curbside Splendor Publishing, a small press that showcases art and literature celebrating urbanism. In addition to publishing works by local writers, he puts on literary events and sell books by Chicago-based publishers and authors at the Logan Square Farmers Market. His work has appeared in Rougarou, Umbrella Factory Magazine, Jersey Devil Press, and Diverse Voices Quarterly, among others, and his first novel Sophomoric Philosophy came out in November 2010. He lives in Chicago.

Published by CAR_Laura on Mon, 06/27/2011 - 7:23am
Updated on Wed, 08/10/2011 - 1:40pm