Small Press Points: Barrelhouse Books


In 2004 editors Dave Housley, Mike Ingram, Joe Killiany, and Aaron Pease made what they referred to as the “beer-soaked decision to start a literary journal” that resulted in Barrelhouse, a biannual based in Washington, D.C. One can assume their recent decision to start a small press, Barrelhouse Books (www.barrelhousemag
.com), has sobered them up a bit. The press debuted last year with an essay anthology titled Bring the Noise: The Best Pop Culture Essays From Barrelhouse, gathering together some of the best creative nonfiction previously published in the magazine. With work that “bridges the gap between serious art and pop culture”—part of the mission of both the magazine and the press—the collection features essays by writers who have tried growing a beard as an homage to Bob Dylan, sought out the best dive bars devoted to the Chicago Cubs, and analyzed the terrifying film Return to Oz. But the anthology was far from a flash in the pan: The press’s first full-length poetry collection, Justin Marks’s You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re Bored, was published in February along with Lee Klein’s Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck: Rejection Letters From the Eyeshot Outbox, which assembles some of Klein’s best advice e-mailed to aspiring writers when rejecting work submitted to his website, Eyeshot. Barrelhouse Books prides itself on selecting from the slush pile, as with Marks’s collection: “Justin cold e-mailed Dan, our poetry editor, with a manuscript,” says Killiany, who notes that the press’s next title will be a work of fiction. “We definitely want to go with a short story collection or a novel for our next book,” he says. While the press is currently closed to submissions, the editors plan to open to fiction manuscripts in the future and are currently considering nonfiction essays for the magazine via the online submission manager; the thirteenth issue of Barrelhouse is out this month.