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What We’re Reading

Lauren Perez (Publicity Intern, Tin House Books): I just picked up Matthea Harvey’s Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form and I’m in love with it. Phrases and words bleed into each other, double in meaning, turn slippery on the page. Better still, Harvey is unexpectedly funny, and this collection is an absorptive read. A great companion for nights spent huddled next to the electric wall heater.

Victoria Savanh (Editorial Intern, Tin House Magazine): Pamela Moore’s Chocolates for Breakfast, a controversial 1956 bestseller, was reissued earlier this year, and I was sold on it after reading Emma Straub’s enthusiastic foreword. This novel did indeed make me swoon, and I’ve been suggesting it to anyone who loves The Bell Jar. Courtney Farrell, a fifteen year-old who has grown up too fast, leaves her elite East coast boarding school to Hollywood, to live with her struggling actress mother, then to high society Manhattan. Between boozy brunches, cocktail parties, and love affairs, Courtney is unapologetic in everything that she does. Refusing to be the victim, she states, “People always think a girl’s first lover takes advantage of her. But I wanted it, nobody took advantage of me.” She’s far more aware than her peers, and sure, prone to melancholy, but it never weighs too heavily thanks to her straight up and sarcastic disposition. The tragedy is that Courtney is girl of substance, floating through an empty world, knowing too well that superficial pleasures are not sustainable.

Jamie Carr (Editorial Intern, Tin House Books): Because Russian literature is best read in winter and Gladstone Street is coated in powder, and because the wind whips at your face like an angry god from the coast you so fervently fled, open Robert Payne’s translation of Anton Chekhov’s Forty Stories. Let the wolfish soldiers, gloomy princesses, and low-lit castles preheat your December blues. Lose yourself in the plush, self-indulgent descriptions. A commander traipses through a cemetery, wild dogs howl, and no one ever gets what they want when they want it—this is Chekhov’s brilliance. You’ll be curled up in bed but also with them, on an icy veranda. Staring up at the moon.

Molly Dickinson (Editorial Intern, Tin House Books): August Kleinzahler’s collection The Strange Hours Travelers Keep was one of the first poetry collections I read as an eager high school student that understood the world as I did: a place of overwhelming modernity, a sometimes unbearable expanse of stimulus and over stimulus. What instead marks Kleinzahler’s new collection, The Hotel Oneira, is a notable quietness and a steadied focus on moments of stillness, absence, tenderness. In Strange Hours we were caught up in the urgency to capture the anomalies of awkward hours and the awkward peoples who inhabit them, in Hotel Oneira we are the calmed traveler, settled in and calmed by the environment we suddenly discover ourselves in. I feel both great nostalgia and fresh thrill upon reading this collection. Kleinzahler’s shifting perspective is strongly apparent yet he remains an astounding manipulator of the English language.

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