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Torrey House Press and the New West at Weller Book Works


Mark Bailey and Kirsten Allen of Torrey House Press.

Mark Bailey and Kirsten Allen of Torrey House Press.

What would possess someone to start a publishing company in the midst of the so-called “Great Recession”?  And in the outback of the known publishing world of Utah, no less?

That was one question I had when I first met Mark Bailey, publisher of Torrey House Press and his wife Kirsten, the press’s editor, in 2010.  Another question was, would I like what they were putting out there? And still another: would anyone read books about the American West? The “new” American West?

There’s no question that the publishing world is convulsing, and technology—from e-readers to self-publishing; from print-on-demand to shrinking attention spans—is driving the new and still-changing look of what we used to call “books.”

More’s the marvel then that this week Torrey House, a traditional publisher with seven books of fiction under its belt and three more creative works on the starting line, will be showcased at Weller Book Works on February 2 in Salt Lake City’s Trolley Square at 7 pm.  Award-winning, local authors Jana Richman (The Ordinary Truth), Erica Olsen (Recapture), Maximilian Werner (Crooked Creek), and Steven L. Peck (The Scholar of Moab) will discuss their works and inspirations.  Community members are invited to participate in the discussion, moderated by author and writing instructor George Handley.

Both Mark and Kirsten are passionate about the Colorado Plateau and the American West. More to the point, they are concerned about land issues that they feel can best be addressed through narrative that engages people and provokes thought. Not a bad reason for starting a press that takes its name from a cherished nodal point of the Plateau, Torrey, Utah.

As far as the quality of the work—and who will read it—time will tell, although so far it’s been an auspicious start.  The multi-author reading and conversation at Trolley Square titled “Old West/New West” may point towards, if not the motive for this literary duo, then their modus operandi:  eco-awareness through a literary community—face-to-face in the West and globally through technology.

David G. Pace’s review of Steven L. Peck’s The Scholar of Moab appeared in our Daily Bytes earlier this week.
Geoff Wichert’s review of Maximilian Werner’s Crooked Creek appeared in the July 2011 edition of 15 Bytes.


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