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Raising the Dead

“And that was why, as he began to imagine “The Dead,” Joyce remembered the tall Georgian house at 15 Usher’s Island where his great aunts, Mrs. Mary Callanan and Mrs. Julia Lyons, had held their annual holiday party in the rented floors where they lived above a corn merchant’s office…. Yet over time the very site of a story that’s so rooted in memories and ghosts nearly became one itself. By the end of the 20th century, as the properties around it were razed and much of the world that Joyce had known was lost to the sort of urban development that reshapes any major city, the house at 15 Usher’s Island fell into ruin. Until, that is, in 1998 a local barrister heard about the demolition of a different house in Dublin, one where Joyce had lived as a teenager… and rushed to the site to buy the rubble before it could be carted away.”

Posted in Essays

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Lost & Found: Cassandra Cleghorn on Kenneth Patchen’s Jazz Collaborations

“The Murder of Two Men by a Young Kid Wearing Lemon-colored Gloves” is to my mind one of the few instances of music and poetry perfectly integrated—by which I mean that in this piece, poem and music are maximally in contact, both with and against one another. This collaboration between Patchen and composer and band leader Allyn Ferguson is a revelation, anticipating Robert Creeley’s interplay with bassist Steve Swallow almost 50 years later. But where Creeley’s pre-recorded poems were digitally retrofitted into Swallow’s soundtrack, Patchen performed his poems live and in the studio with horns blazing. Listening to this deep cut is for me a continuous shock and thrill–a reminder of what’s possible when poets close their eyes and keep their ears wide open.

Posted in Essays, General, Lost & Found

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The Last Gift

January 20th, 2000, The Netherlands Believe it or not, nobody objected. Not one of us stood up in the bedroom and said, “Don’t kill him.” Neither did anybody else in the house for that matter, the cleaning lady, the unobtrusive nurse. We all accepted my father’s fate with eyes wide open and mouths shut. Imagine us […]

Posted in Essays, Flash Fidelity

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Michael: An Essay

Awhile ago, in 2013, on Easter, after finishing dinner and observing it was still light outside, I decided to take a drive to the small hospital where my old friend Michael Woodcock lay dying.

Posted in Essays, Tin House Books

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Under the Aegean Moon

On the Aegean coast of Turkey, the sea casts rainbows at olive trees, and mountains stretch eagerly into the open water, creating sheltered coves. My American husband and I arrived in one of these inlets soon after our wedding in Istanbul—though we live in Brooklyn, we were married in Turkey where most of my family […]

Posted in Essays, Flash Fidelity

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On Pandering

This essay, which is featured in our forthcoming Winter issue, was originally given as a lecture during the 2015 Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop. It was met with enthusiastic applause.  Some Exposition fff Until recently I was a professor at a private liberal arts university in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, a little town located at the exact point […]

Posted in Essays, Writers' Workshops

Comments: 184

Sardines!

  They age well, too. Jeff Koehler on the briny pleasures of sardines, from Tin House #39: Appetites. Few things travel as well as canned sardines. The familiar flat tins end up on shop shelves in every dusty nook and far-flung cranny across the globe, as I discovered as a young, itinerate backpacker in some […]

Posted in Essays, From The Vault

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Haunted Reading

As I walked the eerily empty streets of downtown Spartanburg the evening before my reading, I imagined good old boys morphing into slimy reptiles, conducting human sacrifices, and wallowing in bloodbaths, their scales glistening with gore.

Posted in Essays, Tin House Books

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Padgett Powell on Donald Barthelme

Don Barthelme once said to me, “The trouble with teaching is you spend all your time working on someone else’s rotten manuscript when you should be working on your own rotten manuscript.” This is signature Barthelme. It contains the making of a joke by repeating two syllables or two words or two phrases, at which […]

Posted in Essays, General

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St. Mark’s Bookshop

When I was 16 I discovered subculture and went at it voraciously.

Posted in Essays, Tin House Books

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Our Endless Numbered Days: A Summer Field Guide

How well do you think you would survive in the wild with only an axe and a knife?

Posted in Essays, Tin House Books

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Two Truths and a Lie: What do Fiction Writers Take from Life?

In middle school we all played it – you did too, right? The game where each person tells three facts about themselves, except that one of those “facts” is made up, and it’s the responsibility of the other players to tell the difference between them. Think about a reverse form of Apples to Apples, in […]

Posted in Essays

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Mirror, Mirror: A Guide to Pathos

From our 50th Issue, Crystal Williams navigates our culture’s notions of beauty and race.  Mirror, Mirror: A Guide to Pathos I. I have a friend whose voice changes when he talks about his wife. Each time he says her name, it moves from hard to wispy. Sometimes he whispers, “beautiful,” and it is not awe […]

Posted in Essays, From The Vault

Comments: 2

Distance

I am eight. The lights of the farm across the road from my home are an archipelago of hovering dots. Moos float disembodied in blackness, startling me. White noise in the dark night. My father works there. The family business, generations old, the farm Upstate. He is inside one of those lights, birthing a calf. […]

Posted in Essays, Flash Fidelity

Comments: 1

Trains, Planes, and What I Read

When I travel, once I’ve rounded up my documents and stuffed the carry-on to bursting, the last thing I pack is a book. I slip whatever I have chosen between my change of clothes and my blanket, and close the zipper. I appreciate that e-books have, for some people, erased the need to make an […]

Posted in Essays

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Reader, Meet Writer; Writer, Meet Reader

When my book, Our Endless Numbered Days was published I didn’t think I was going to enjoy getting out there and talking to strangers.

Posted in Essays, Tin House Books

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Around the Corner

Once, as a child, I almost saw a man kill himself. The boys up at the wall looked down at him as he, weeping, put his head on the tracks. I stood back, watching them as they watched him. Or that’s how I remember it, but I also remember his face, so I’m not sure […]

Posted in Essays, Flash Fidelity

Comments: 0

The Roots of King Kendrick

In his groundbreaking book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, Alex Haley tells the story of Kunta Kinte, a young man from Gambia sold into slavery in America in the 18th century. The book—published in 1976 and adapted into a popular television series in 1977—is largely based on true events and real people, as […]

Posted in Essays

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Dear E

From our Rejection issue, Leslie Jamison looks back on the geometry of junior high friendships. November 15, 2014 Dear E, Who were we kidding? Back then, friendship was nothing but musical chairs. You’d steal anyone’s spot if it meant you got a seat. Or at least, I would. I did. This was fourth grade. You were […]

Posted in Essays, General

Comments: 1

The Wild What

From our Science Fair issue, an amateur astronomer daydreams about constellations and lets her imagination run rampant. Bright star, you’re a gas!   Several centuries ago the stars reconstellated into figures more relevant to the times. The Earth had been industrializing, mechanizing, electrifying, while the stars were still trotting out swans and goats and bears […]

Posted in Essays, From The Vault

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Tin House Staff Rejections: Clandestine Supermarket Lobster Liberation

Just to prove we have skin (if not submissions) in the game, we asked our staff members to recall a time in their lives when they were dealt a heaping hot slice of rejection pie. To read more lengthy responses to the prompt, check out our latest issue, which is filled with sad sack tales, […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 4

On Teaching Nicholson Baker

Why You Should Teach Two Books, Each of Which Could Get You Fired

Posted in Essays, Tin House Books

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We’ll Make It

Giant hail, spontaneous combustion. I’m twelve. My mom is annoying, but I love her. I need to keep her safe, so I try to imagine all the ways she could die right now: She could have a seizure and drive into the river. A dog could dart into traffic causing us to swerve into a […]

Posted in Essays, Flash Fidelity

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Tin House Staff Rejections: Manic Panic Fuchsia Shock

Just to prove we have skin (if not submissions) in the game, we asked our staff members to recall a time in their lives when they were dealt a heaping hot slice of rejection pie. To read more lengthy responses to the prompt, check out our latest issue, which is filled with sad sack tales  […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 0

Our Endless Numbered Days

It always seems to surprise readers that writers don’t have a huge amount of say in the covers of their books.

Posted in Essays, Tin House Books

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