The founders of the region's newest publishing outfit, Braddock Avenue Books, have a simple motto: Uncommon Books [for] Uncommon Readers.
Robert Peluso and Jeffrey Condran are longtime friends and fellow English instructors at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh; Condran is himself a fiction writer. They set up shop in the struggling milltown of Braddock, in a building just across the avenue from U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson Works that also houses the Unsmoke Artspace gallery and artists studios. These men love books. And they love Pittsburgh.
"The literary scene is percolating with events and activities," writes Peluso, himself a fiction writer, in an email. "All those presses, journals and zines are run by committed and energetic people. And the indie and used bookstores, too. ... Even our choice of Braddock was a statement of our commitment to lived life. The spirit of place is inspiring in a dozen different ways."
"Every day, it gets more apparent that mainstream publishing has become risk-averse," he adds. "Writing is serious business ... because of the opportunities it offers for complex inquiry into the human condition. ... We want a book to linger."
Finding such books is a challenge. "It can drive you crazy ... but it's also exhilarating every step of the way — watching manuscripts get tightened up, choosing cover designs, proofing (and proofing again!), choosing paper, getting distributors," says Peluso. "We also spent untold amounts of time on the website, braddockavenuebooks.com. ... We had a vision and it was to make the site more than simply a place to go and look at our publications. We were determined that it be an ‘e-community,' a place where people interested or involved in the literary life could find a home."
Authors, it seems, are knocking on their door. Their print schedule began with the Nov. 6 release of their first client Salvatore Pane's first book, Last Call in the City of Bridges. It's a funny, serious book set in Pittsburgh that takes place on the eve of Obama's first election. In the pipeline: Why We Never Talk About Sugar, a short-story collection by Aubrey Hirsch, and the Ambridge-set How Blasphemy Sounds to God, by Gary Fincke (winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction for his collection, Sorry I Worried You).
Look for Braddock Avenue Books publications online and in independent bookstores across the country.