I have to say I passed a lovely afternoon sitting down to read Barrelhouse
and drinking some creamy Earl Grey tea.
I highly recommend Barrelhouse's
debut issue. I thought it was solid and entertaining just about all the way through (with the possible exception of poetry but I guess you guys already know I'm just not the poetry type). I especially liked Metal Church
by Matthew Kirkpatrick (which I believe is also on the site
). That piece was just utterly amazing -- and hilarious. I think it speaks of Gen X quite nicely... how we fit in, how we sold out, how we rediscover who we want to be and come to terms with it, the things we'll do for love. All against the juxtaposition of the church of Heavy Metal. Highly, highly recommended.
Also of note, in my opinion, was Cool
by David Barringer, Hope I Die
, by David Starkey, and Partners
by Paul Graham. The latter story required a great deal of suspension of disbelief on my part -- it's basically a story of the tension in a sexless marriage, which the male protagonist didn't actually know was going to be the case going in. I also had a hard time with infrequent POV shifts, so if I had been an editor I likely wouldn't have chosen it... but
for the fact that it ends up being a pretty impactful story where suspension of disbelief was worth it. Reality x Reality
by Stacey Starkey, the only female contributor of short fiction in the tome, gave me a case of mixed feelings. It's really good -- I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, other than utter pop culture horror (although it kind of reminded me of a movie I saw, where a "reality webcast" was real) and quirkiness but I will say that it made me uncomfortable all the way through. Which certainly is not to say it's bad, but it gave me that sort of inward shudder. I also can't exactly say I liked the narrator, but it's definitely worth a read.
Also particularly enjoyable was the essay Burn Hollywood
by Steve Almond.
Now, I will say, putting this head-to-head with Gargoyle
and I'd still pick Gargoyle
hands down. Metal Church
was the closest thing to a piece that just blew me away. However, Barrelhouse
is far superior (in my view, and I suppose mine might be a sort of Gen X view) to something like Glimmer Train
. I'd also say I'd choose it over something like Tin House
where in my experience, many of the pieces try too hard to be "intellectual" or "clever" or what have you, to the point of getting tedious at times.
In the long run, though, I think this mag could end up being very important, especially to those of us in DC. Nine bucks (eleven, with postage) might seem a little steep but again, it's nice to support a new publication.
Thanks for reading,