Notches is dedicated to original nonfiction of interest to the Midwest. The titles are written by some of the nation’s best writers on often overlooked subjects such as speechcontemporary literature, the history of the Maumee River, and the Whiskey Rebellion.  Notches titles are “shortform” books (or, perhaps, “really longform essays”). Titles will be under 150 pages and include supplemental back matter in the form of glossaries, guides, recipes, or other ancillary content.


Current Notches in our Belt

How to Speak Midwestern
Edward McClelland
December 2016

Based on his 2015 essay for Belt Magazine, McClelland’s witty and informed analysis of the strange folkways of Midwestern speech is the first title in Belt’s new Notches imprint of short-form nonfiction. Read it and learn about the etymology of “jagoff” as well as the difference between a FIP, a FIB, and a FISHTAB, and what to call french fries on your sandwich in Pittsburgh or chili on your spaghetti in Cincinnati. With its pocket size and easy-to-reference glossaries, it’s the perfect book for every Midwesterner’s gift list — or, better yet, for that of who love them.

The New Midwest: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction of the Great Lakes, Great Plains, and Rust Belt
Mark Athitakis
February 2017

In the public imagination, Midwestern literature hasn’t evolved far beyond heartland laborers and hardscrabble immigrants of a century past. But as the region has changed, so, in many ways, has its fiction. In The New Midwest, Mark Athitakis explores how shifts in work, class, place, race, and culture has been reflected — or ignored — by novelists and short story writers. From Marilynne Robinson to Leon Forrest, Toni Morrison to Aleksandar Hemon, Bonnie Jo Campbell to Stewart O’Nan, the book is a call to rethink the way we conceive Midwestern fiction, and one that’s sure to prompt some new must-have additions to your reading list.


In the Watershed: A Journey Down the Maumee River
Ryan Schnurr
October 2017

The Maumee River is at the center of the largest watershed in the Great Lakes region, collecting water from more than 6,600 square miles of land and depositing it in Lake Erie–though as the lake’s largest tributary its influence is not entirely positive. In summer of 2016, Schnurr walked and boated the length of the Maumee River from its headwaters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to where it empties out into Lake Erie. This book is an account of that journey. Part cultural history, part nature writing, and part narrative, Walking the Maumee considers not just the history of one river but the importance of water–including its toxic hazards–to the Rust Belt.

The Whiskey Rebellion and the Rebirth of Rye: A Pittsburgh Story
Meredith Meyer Grelli
Fall 2017

A short history of rye whiskey’s founding, floundering, and current flourishing in Pittsburgh. The book takes reader on a fun tour of the Whiskey Rebellion, the role of Pittsburgh robber barons in developing the rye industry, and the rebirth of craft distillery in the twentieth century. Includes an illustrated guide to making rye whiskey and recipes.

What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia
by Elizabeth Catte
February 2018

What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia  is a frank assessment of America’s recent fascination with the people and problems of the region. The book analyzes trends in contemporary writing on Appalachia, presents a brief history of Appalachia with an eye toward unpacking Appalachian stereotypes, and provides examples of writing, art, and policy created by Appalachians as opposed to for Appalachians. The book offers a must-needed insider’s perspective on the region.

The New Old Town: Early Gentrification in Chicago
Daniel Kay Hertz
Spring 2018

The story of the gentrification of the Old Town neighborhood in Chicago, from the 1950s, when bohemians and countercultural types moved in, ‘upgraded’ their homes, and used activism and public policy to remake the neighborhood to 1973, when rising rents pushed them out, to today.

Join the Belt Book Club and receive all the titles as they are published.