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What We’re Reading
Emma Komlos-Hrobsky (Assistant Editor, Tin House Magazine): I just dove into my fourth rereading of Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France. Everyone loves Julia for her bon-vivance and skill and the sanity of her priorities (butter, wine, food that’s about pleasure and artistry rather than consumption). I love her also for her prose. Julia, with an assist from Alex Prud’homme, writes the same way she cooks: with spirit and the right kind of abandon and a lot of exclamatory noise. Her words are a pleasure, even when not buoyed by that speaking voice of hers (although it’s hard not to do said voice in your head as you read).
Holly Laycock (Publicity Intern, Tin House Books): After Rain by William Trevor. I’m currently only two stories deep in Trevor’s short story collection, but am enjoying the depth of his storytelling immensely. Given that the situations the reader is dropped into are rather mundane glimpses of life (i.e. a blind piano tuner’s second marriage), the character he is able to infuse into these seemingly simple people is refreshing and makes for some really honest portrayals.
Rob Spillman (Editor of Tin House): The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative by Vivian Gornick. This concise, brilliant treatise on separating out one’s material from narrative and authorial intent should be required reading for all writers. Just started Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (out in May from Knopf), which fearlessly deals with race in the US, and follows intersecting lives between Nigeria, England, and the US.
Matthew Dickman (Poetry Editor of Tin House): The new, and beautiful, chapbook of poetry from Poor Claudia is amazing! This collection by London poet Marcus Slease, titled Mu (Dream) So (Window), will make you wish there were more than the thirty pages of poetry included in this collection. These are modern lyric ballads that will knock your English-wool socks off!
Heather Hartley (Paris Editor of Tin House): Selected Writings of Blaise Cendrars is a delightful read, especially the long-lined, limpid poem, “Prose of the Transsiberian and of Little Jeanne of France,” with beautiful lines like I was in Moscow, where I was trying to nourish myself with flames / And I was not satisfied with the bell towers and the stations that my eyes turned to stars, as well as a refrain that appears in slightly different form throughout, It was in the time of my adolescence . . I was a bad poet. (I totally relate to his tweenage pain.) The 1962 New Directions edition translated by Walter Albert is full of treats: it’s bilingual, includes a good selection of prose pieces, and has an introduction by Henry Miller who writes that, “Everything [of Cendrars] is written in blood, but a blood that is saturated by starlight.” I hadn’t read Cendrars for a long time, and his work pairs very nicely with everything from early morning espresso to late night last calls. As he laments–advises?–at the end of “Prose of the Transsiberian and of Little Jeanne of France:” I will go to the Lapin Agile to recall my lost youth / And drink a few glasses / Then I’ll return home alone.