Category Archives: The Ocean Between Us

The Ocean Between Us: Melville House

Melville House's Art of the Novella series

Photo (CC BY-NC-ND): Robert Burdock

I’m honored to be writing this, my first column for a magazine that has been great to me over the past year or so. I’ve had the pleasure of writing a couple of reviews for the website, and I’m excited to be a part of Structo as it continues to grow. When I was first asked to work on a regular column, I began thinking about what I, as an American writer, would have to say to the audience of a British magazine. Our two literary worlds have much in common, but the interest lies in the subtle differences.

So many great presses, writers, and magazines come out in the US every year, yet even the greatest of them have virtually no audience, especially abroad. My goal is to introduce Structo’s readers to some of these unknowns. Melville House is an independent publisher based in Brooklyn. It was formed in 2001 by writer Dennis Johnson and sculptor Valerie Merians after Johnson’s popular and vociferous publishing blog, MobyLives, grew in popularity. The press’s first release was Poetry After 9/11, a collection of some of the most popular posts on MobyLives.

After seeing their books gain steady popularity in the UK (and publishing several titles by British authors), Melville House publishers Johnson and Merians have recently opened a British version of the press. In the press release, Johnson said “It’s not a branch, nor an office. It’s a distinct, British company.” Melville House hopes to not just sell their existing books, but to publish new titles that help give this new company its own voice and appeal. Continue reading