June 13, 2018
This Cleveland-based publisher plans to launch a series of overlooked Midwestern classics
by Ryan Harrington
We recently published a slightly dyspeptic, but ultimately admiring post about the independent publishing scene thriving in Los Angeles.
Today, we turn our attention to some of the cool indie rumblings from the middle west, specifically the Heart of The Heart of it All, Cleveland, Ohio. It is there, in the fertile crescent between the Cuyahoga River and Lake Eerie, that you will find Belt Publishing. (As in Rust Belt — used affectionately).
Since 2013 Belt—the book publisher and its twin publication Belt Magazine—has sought to combat the image of the Midwest as a literary flyover, a place where all the (sleepy) stories have been told and where the soil (however nutrient-rich for and suitable for corn) is not hospitable to sustaining vital media projects. This mission has so far inspired them to publish everything from approachable / giftable books like How to Speak Midwestern to in-depth studies of gentrification in midwestern cities like The Battle of Lincoln Park.
Now, as Sarah Laskow reports for Atlas Obscura, Belt will launch an overlooked classics line that aims to put the region back in the atlas and make its classic writers less obscure.
The line will be called Belt Revivals, and will be something like the Midwest’s answer to the more internationally-focused Melville House Neversink Library, or the New York Review Books Classics. Laskow writes:
A Belt Revival book, says Anne Trubek, the founder of Belt Publishing, “has some contemporary resonance. There are some themes that are newly interesting to people or eerily familiar.” Though written in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, these titles should have relevance in 2018. Another criteria: “It’s a work that deserves another chance at an audience,” she adds.
The series opens with Sherwood Anderson’s less-known-than-Winesburg,-Ohio-but-still-pretty-great Poor White, and Hamlin Garland’s Main-Travelled Roads. Both titles will be available in June, and followed by three more classics.
If you’re worried that the regional texts won’t speak to your globetrotting cosmopolitanism, Trubek assures us: “People think a regional press has to be booster-ish or sentimental or not that sophisticated. There’s no reason for that to be the case.”
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.