Flannery O’ Connor
This was my gateway to weird funny sad fiction. My favorite writer, full stop. Nobody wrote funnier, more surprising or heartbreaking stories and they’re all rooted in real emotion and heart.
Dodgers – Bill Beverly
The first half of this book is like a very good Richard Price book. The second half is like a 90s indie film. Somehow Beverly finds the connective tissue between these two very different things and makes an unforgettable book out of them.
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
I love this book for it’s strangeness and imagination, the warmth of the writing, and unforgettable characters, and the flashes that make you realize what a miracle it is that I’m typing this into a machine while sitting in a room full of light and heat while it’s pitch black and fifteen degrees outside.
Continental Breakfast – Danny Caine
I love these poems that celebrate the mundane places in America — the rundown malls and second rate chain restaurants and abandoned photocpy places. This is my America and Danny understands these sad and vital places and the real stuff that happens in and around them like nobody else.
Darkness on the Edge of Town by Bruce Springsteen
I just finished a book about two old men sitting outside their shuttered factory, waiting for their jobs to come back (Howard and Charles at the Factory, coming out from Outpost 19 on 1/20/20) and this was the soundtrack to that book. I’m fascinated to hear 40% of the country waxing nostalgic for the jobs that Bruce Springsteen warned were going to kill our souls. Obviously, Bruce was right. This album is the receipts.
Dave Housley’s second novel, Howard and Charles at the Factory, is coming out in January 2020 from Outpost 19. He is the author of the novel This Darkness Got to Give, and four story collections, most recently Massive Cleansing Fire. His work has appeared in Booth, Hobart, Quarterly West, Ridivider, and some other places. He’s one of the Founding Editors and all around do-stuff people at Barrelhouse. In his real job he is the Director of Web Strategy at Penn State Outreach and Online Education. He tweets at @housleydave.