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Jeff Brochu is proud of his new short story magazine. So proud, in fact, that he named it after himself. The title Brochu’s may not have the poetry of, say, the Threepenny Review, but its founder hopes that the quarterly will carve a niche for itself as a magazine that publishes local writers who can’t get published elsewhere. The cook/exercise-machine-repairman-turned-publisher started Brochu’s because he was sick of the stream of rejection letters he’s received since he began writing in 1987: “I know I’m good at it,” he says. “I know I’ve got the talent.”
The first issue of Brochu’s, which he began selling on District streets and in bookstores in early October, features five stories—two written by Brochu and three by other D.C. writers—and lots of ads from Washington businesses. He’s already sold 325 of 2,000 copies of the inaugural issue at $3 a pop. If Brochu’s talent for writing equaled his talent for promotion, he’d probably be cashing checks from the New Yorker instead of hawking Brochu’s outside the Cleveland Park Metro station.
Brochu’s offers ample evidence for why its creator pays to publish his own work. (He says his favorite books are Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. It shows.) But poor reviews are unlikely to deter this entrepreneur: He has already placed newspaper ads soliciting stories for the second edition of Brochu’s, and he’s negotiating with acquaintances in Minneapolis to republish the first issue there. If you want a copy, you won’t have any trouble identifying Brochu’s: Its cover is bright yellow and illustrated with a smiley face.