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The Afflicted: Dave Housley, Mike Ingram, Joe Killiany, Matt Kirkpatrick, Aaron Pease, and Dan Brady, the editorial team of Barrelhouse, a local literary journal with a flair for pop-culture absurdity.
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Diagnosis: Cancer of the pancreas—Patrick Swayze’s pancreas. Barrelhouse has a tradition of leaning on the Dirty Dancing superstar for light-hearted fodder: Its second issue dedicated a section to creative riffs on the actor, and the journal’s editors end every interview with the question, “What’s your favorite Patrick Swayze movie?” (Emmylou Harris’ is Ghost; Ian MacKaye doesn’t “give a fuck.”) But now that Swayze’s at less-than-Road House strength, Barrelhouse’s editors are reassessing the way they reference Le Swayze. “Now that he has cancer…the issue has become a bit delicate,” says Brady, the poetry editor.
Symptoms: A broken funny bone. How can humorists treat a famous case of cancer without losing the tongue-in-cheek? “We truly have a great respect for Patrick Swayze,” says Brady. “We do need to address the situation and do it in a sincere, respectful way, but without letting that get in the way of all the reasons that we love Patrick Swayze to begin with.”
Treatment: Keep the Swayze tradition alive—but frame it as homage. “We’re not going to stop asking the Swayze question,” says Brady. Adds co-founder Housley, “I don’t think we should publish some hagiography on Patrick Swayze just because he has cancer.” Still, he says, “We’ve decided that it’s a tribute. And we feel like we’re definitely the only literary magazine in a position to do a tribute to Patrick Swayze.” —Amanda Hess
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