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Christina Stead narrates this kind of terrifying order better than anyone I know: sometimes in a kind manic aerial shot, sometimes in a fever of words that pour from everyone’s mouth toward a fixed point in the center of the reader’s mind. I think of her as George Eliot angry in a 20th century way, but she remains obscure because—beyond the frustrating and persistent neglect of ambitious women writers—we are only rarely in the mood to admit the world is ever quite like this: terrifying, terrifying on a normal day.
I’ve been wrong about everything this year. All my predictions, all my knowing, self-assured asides, all my cute, contrary prophecies, have turned out to be utter crap. Like everyone, I misread the spirit of 2016 on a grand scale. This time last year I was assuring my friends that Marco Rubio was exactly the kind […]
Our staff was very sad to learn of the passing of Carolyn See last week. She was, as Karen Karbo knew, “an institution and a great friend to many writers.” Here, a Lost & Found essay from our thirteenth issue in which Karbo praises See’s novel Rhine Maidens, along with a note from Karbo on the sad […]
A newspaper report says 64 refugees from two war-torn countries arrived this morning. They arrived just before dawn, when light smooths out the sharp borders of things and people alike. The pictures show tired faces, but their expressions have not been emptied – on the contrary, they seem full of meaning, they seem to talk.
When we went to see the trailer we’d rented, officially Uhauling, it was clear immediately: our books weren’t going to fit. I had eighteen boxes. She had eighteen boxes. The shipping would cost over a grand and so we reconsidered. We were moving the cheapest way possible, to a new state where neither of us […]
Elinore Pruitt Stewart’s letters depict a woman who observed nature as keenly as Henry David Thoreau did, but, unlike Thoreau, there was nobody else washing Stewart’s laundry and dropping off dinner. Thoreau talked a good line in independence; Stewart lived it, and despite the fact that she’d had little formal education, she left writings about her life that are immediate and engaging and sharp.
I stumbled upon a lightning strike survivor convention that was scheduled for that weekend in Virginia. It felt like a sign – of what, I can’t say. I charged a plane ticket to my credit card and told no one I was going.
At the convention one man had no arms. A woman had so much skin grafting she looked like fishnet. A man who had fought in Vietnam told a story about waking up in the morgue.
“What happened to you?” they kept asking.
from our current Summer Issue, Michael Dickman’s essay “John Clare: Mud Man Punk Rocker” apologies to M.O. These are the bands (listened to by me): D.R.I. Circle Jerks Suicidal Tendencies Minutemen The Cramps Minor Threat We’re just a Minor Threat! We’re just a Minor Threat! We’re just a Minor Threat! These are the bands (listened […]
Taking my hand, he led me through the Louisiana Swamp Gallery to a verdant artificial garden. Arias of brightly colored canaries were locked in a cages along the wall. Holly stood on a plastic bridge and butterflies filled the air. An immense azure morpho landed atop her head. She knelt down to show Zion its palpating wings.
I was looking for a song. All around Bed Stuy were these record shops that were really junk shops that were really some guy’s basement, accessible from the street. Summer afternoons, I dug through stacks of disintegrating LPs in dim, mildew-scented cellars.I had heard it at a party or in a passing car or a […]
Today I want to talk about preservation.
In “The Aquarium,” Hemon describes the same sensation. “One early morning,” he’d written, “I had the intensely physical sensation of being inside an aquarium: I could see outside, the people outside could see me inside (if they were somehow chose to pay attention), but we lived and breathed in entirely different environments.” Suddenly, I grasped what he meant.
In college, just as I was starting to think of myself as a writer—also known as my “insufferable” phase—I felt a vague anthropological obligation to interview the elderly people on my mother’s side of the family. I figured I only had a couple of years, tops, before they all died. My uncle’s parents, for instance, […]
Bookstores are not a dependable resource in the suburbs.
So little fiction has been written about one of the most common of human experiences: childbirth.
As folklorists will tell you, rituals associated with the life cycle are transformative, and these baseball chants steer the boys through a particular stage in life and sport. They seem, however, completely oblivious to their own growing up, to the ways in which this world of ours ushers them into the carnival and gives them a mask to wear. In the late afternoon, with another three hours to kill before bracket play begins, the boys stage their own subversive baseball game, a carnival within a carnival—far from the watchful authority of parents and coaches, who are, anyway, stretched out in low-slung chairs under open tents, sapped by the sun and the sheer noise of it all.
Literature, read on the sly, gave the author her first taste of the strange world of that mysterious being, the adult. From Issue 63, Rejection. What I remember is a park in Boise, a summer picnic in the late 1960s, and my father lurching to a stop on the sidewalk to let a girl pass. […]
Ghosts in literature are often treated like hybrid elements: part character, part plot device, part setting.
This was the rancid sea slug at the center of Lindbergh’s beautiful, whorled book: this idea that somehow separation, an embrace of solitude is the path toward joy. For me, it was the source of my life’s greatest anguish. A Gift from the Sea gave best-selling bonafides to my mother’s notion that she was an island, an island too small for the two of us. Thanks to this goddamn book, I had been cast away.
This month sees the release from Orison Books and editor Mark Niemeyer of a collection of Herman Melville’s letters to Nathaniel Hawhthorne, under the title The Divine Magnet. The ensuing epistolary bromance covers a range of topics, and in his introduction to the book, novelist Paul Harding pays a particular attention to faith in the lives […]
Helpful Buddhist Practices for Mothers of Addicts
Yesterday was the first day of Spring, marked by the Spring Equinox, a complicated astronomical event and a perhaps even more complicated Wiccan holiday. What better time to dive along with Alex Mar into the history and personality of celebrated 20th century witch Doreen Valiente? The following essay appears in our current issue, Faith. One […]
We still get a Christmas tree. We still light the menorah. My husband continues to prepare pork chops with a sense of ritual and familiarity that must feel like coming home. The kids have grown up—now 23 and 19—one bar mitzvahed, the other a devout atheist–and are free to make religious commitments of their own.
The following appears in the current issue of Tin House, Faith. Writing about the subject of faith in a country named for faith, founded upon faith, with faith as the central word of its national motto, is, shall we say, a somewhat fraught endeavor. I have for the past six years again lived in Pakistan, […]
As you may have noticed, we’re having some good old fashioned website problems. We’re working on restoring the content we lost (including the online excerpts from our new Faith Issue and the last few months of blog material. We’ll try to have your favorite recent Art of the Sentence, Lost & Found, and Flash Fridays posts up […]