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Barrelhouse - Winter 2005

  • Issue Number: Issue 1
  • Published Date: Winter 2005
It’s fair to say that Barrelhouse is the most promising recent journal so proudly founded in drunkenness; in the introduction to their debut issue, the editors quickly establish its origin, writing, “Fine, we’ll admit it, we were drunk,” thus establishing a youngish masculinity that reverberates throughout. The prose and essays here are of the hip, Maxim-esque variety: Stacey Richter’s story “Reality X Reality” features a reality TV character providing audio commentary for an unseen DVD: “You have to be really good-looking and you have to be tan, and of course sexy, but not a skanky stripper-type.” (Take that, Real World!) Similarly, Steve Almond’s essay “Burn Hollywood” mocks popular cinema as he ponders, “Don’t you get tired of feeling so empty, Hollywood?” while congratulating himself for not selling out. Some quite strong pieces diverge from the overall aggressive tone, as the poetry is generally subtle and reflective, notably Brad Tice’s “Bees,” and Paul Graham’s short story “Partners” deals with the sexual struggles of a young husband whose wife, before their marriage, was raped. There’s a lively interview with Emmylou Harris, too, and the interesting feature of an “illustrated” story – a comic realization of a story from the journal’s website. Overall, the concern here is with being cool, and if that’s your thing, this is the journal for you. []
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Review Posted on July 31, 2005

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