Jamaica Plain bookstore Papercuts marked its second birthday on November’s Small Business Saturday, but that wasn’t the only cause for celebration. Taking a page from legendary bookstores-slash-publishers like San Francisco’s City Lights and Paris’ Shakespeare and Company, owner Kate Layte and media and events director Katie Eelman launched the aptly named Cutlass Press.
“When a dear friend floated ‘Cutlass,’ we knew it was perfect—with the wordplay that fits so well into Papercuts, that we’re women, and that the cutlass is a type of knife, and books are our weapons of choice,” says Eelman, who’s serving as editor-in-chief and shooting for three to five books a year. “There are so many wonderful writers whose work breaks the mold of traditional publishing. We want to help to amplify those voices.” Take local music icon Rick Berlin, author of inaugural release The Paragraphs, a memoir told in fragments of songwriting exercises, or local crime writer Christopher Irvin, whose forthcoming novel Ragged will follow an animal community—Eelman dubs it “Fargo meets Wind in the Willows.”
She and Layte had planned to launch Cutlass come spring, but recent events spurred them to speed ahead. “We were selling books at Papercuts the morning after the election and talked with a bunch of heartbroken, frightened customers,” Eelman recalls. “We wanted to celebrate the right to free press, express power in art and creation, and reassure our community that discussion, free thinking and damn good books weren’t going away.”