Burners have a rich and varied history of sharing wild yarns and waxing philosophical, whether around burn barrels or with pixels and ink. Storytelling and literature have always been essential to the burnerly arts, almost as vital as building and burning things in inhospitable environments. Once we’ve burned it, LNT-ed it, packed it up and gone home, count on the story slingers among us to pick up the philosophical pieces and tell us what it all meant.
Inspired by our founder Larry Harvey, aka “The Human Bookworm,” our Philosophical Center has published two books over the past few years — Built to Burn by Tony ‘Coyote’ Perez and Turn Your Life Into Art by Caveat Magister. If you didn’t notice, we understand – you may have had other things on your mind, like, say, the pandemic. Now that the clouds of angst are finally starting to clear, it’s time to officially launch our publishing imprint, Burning Man Publishing, and to celebrate these two titles and their fabulous authors.
Join Us for the Official Launch Party in San Francisco’s Historic North Beach
We’re officially launching Burning Man Publishing with a celebration and readings in San Francisco’s famous Jack Kerouac Alley, next to City Lights Books, on June 8 from 7pm ‘til late co-hosted by another fabled literary institution next door — Vesuvio Cafe. If you’re in the Bay Area, stop by to toast our new publishing house and mingle with your fellow Burners while enjoying a few readings and some live music from Coyote’s band. Bring your copy of Turn Your Life into Art or Built to Burn — or pick up a copy on the spot — to have it signed by the authors.
The third book from Burning Man Publishing is in the works, and it’s an exciting one (we’ll keep you guessing). You can look forward to hearing all about it at the June 8 launch event.
As Director of the Philosophical Center, Stuart Mangrum carries the mantle for his literary friend and longtime collaborator Larry Harvey. “Larry was a great lover of books,” he observed, “and he chartered the Philosophical Center with a vision of pursuing, as he said, a ‘literary exploration of the Burning Man way.’ Today we’re putting that dream into action, and though Larry’s no longer here to see it, I like to think he would have been pleased as punch.”
Philosophical Center Producer Andie Grace has been instrumental in bringing Burning Man Publishing and its two (soon to be three) books to life. “There is such richness to be found in the stories of Burning Man participants, and their examinations of the culture that has emerged from it and spread throughout the world,” Andie noted. “By publishing selected titles from some of these writers, we hope to elevate understanding of our culture and our mission by curating and sharing exceptional writing with the world and with future generations.”
Tony ‘Coyote’ Perez, has the dual notoriety of co-founding Black Rock City’s Department of Public Works and being Burning Man Publishing’s first author. His book, Built to Burn: Tales of the Desert Carnies of Burning Man, traces his journey from jazz musician to leader of a ragtag crew of city builders.
Coyote shares the story of his journey from racounter to author:
“‘One day you will write a book of your own,’ my mother would often say to me. Of her many talents she had also been a prolific writer.
“In 2017 I read a story I wrote at a staff retreat talent show about my first Burning Man in 1996. A few weeks later I was the first writer to be awarded a Storytelling Fellowship from Burning Man Project to write a book.
“That moment will always be a pinnacle that blazed into new frontiers and changed the course of my life.
“Three years later Burning Man Project published its first book: my book. I became a published author, a distinction that I will hold with honor and pride and will survive me after I’m gone.
“Sadly my mother didn’t live to see it. But in my mind’s eye I see her smiling from across the coffee shop table smoking a cigarette and stirring her coffee. She doesn’t need to say, ‘I told you so.’”
From the Burn Barrel to the Written Word
It often begins with “this one time at Burning Man…” and can go in as many directions as there are storytellers. Stories are one of the ways we hang onto the ephemeral nature of Burning Man spaces. Through Burning Man Publishing, the Philosophical Center has created the remarkable opportunity to save and share our ephemeral culture, knowledge, and experiences — around the world and across time.
Cover image: Burning Man Publishing logo by Tanner Boeger