Obituary Note: Joe W. Bratcher III

Joe W. Bratcher III

Bookseller and publisher Joe W. Bratcher III, owner and founder of Malvern Books, Austin, Tex., died July 28. Announcing his passing "with heavy hearts," the bookstore posted on Facebook: "We are all devastated by the loss of our dear friend, and we can't believe he is gone. There is so much more to write about our beloved Joe, but for now we'll say that we miss him beyond words and our hearts go out to his family."

An Austin native and graduate of UT Austin, Bratcher (and his wife, Elzbieta Szoka) co-founded and then relocated to Manhattan the company Host Publications and its signature publication, literary journal The Dirty Goat. The Austin Chronicle reported that Bratcher "had relocated to New York to become an educator, first at City College of New York and then at Marymount Manhattan College. However, Austin, and its formative effect on his approach to literature and creativity, remained a constant in his life."

"I moved away from Austin in 1995," Bratcher had said in a 2008 Chronicle interview. "When I go back, Austin has changed a lot, but I'm holding on to this ideal Austin that I grew up in, in the 1960s, when it was a small town and you could do intellectually interesting things there and there would be people who would just be curious about what was going on and what you were doing."

The publishing house retained an Austin presence with a fulfillment office and Bratcher was also a part of the indie film scene, executive-producing 2009's Welcome to Academia after the Texas-set-and-shot Screen Door Jesus in 2003 (adapted from the short story anthology of the same name, written by Christopher Cook and published by Host).

In 2010, Bratcher "worked to inspire that same Austin-born culture of interest without borders in new readers when he moved back to Texas and opened Malvern Books," the Chronicle wrote. "Located just north of the UT campus, its emphasis on readings, poetry, translations, and experimental literature earned it a particular place in Austin's literary scene, all under the watchful eye of Bratcher."

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to Adam's Music House, a space dedicated to the teaching and appreciation of classical piano music founded by Bratcher.

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