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Hungry For Home

Germans have the same complaint about American baked goods and Hollywood happy endings: too sweet. Since moving to Berlin six years ago, I have received ample criticism for my cobbler, a simple recipe I received from my late grandmother in Mississippi: one stick of butter, one cup of sugar, one cup of flour, one cup […]

Posted in Carte du Jour, Essays

Comments: 1

Distracted in Portland II

One collected hermit crab racing shells. Another, napkins from restaurants. Paintbrushes, bottle caps, swizzle sticks, twigs gnawed by beavers, single socks left in dryers, objects secreted in pianos.  A woman named Nova collected nail clippings, bits of herself, stacked like brittle moons in tiny jars. Litter. Notes found in libraries. Will you go on a […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 1

On the Shelves of Memory and in the Temples of the Wardrobe

Playing tourist to a city’s energy, a city not your own, is akin to throwing open your wardrobe and allowing the city to dress you in unexpected and untamed ways. You are at the mercy of its interruptions. They break into your train of thought and step, redirect your attention, throw garnish on and rip […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 1

Distracted in Portland

One of the advantages of packing up and relocating for three months to a town where you know no one and are freed from the quotidian banalities that clutter up life—dental appointments, exterminator visits, relationships—is that you have tons of time to work, yet can still indulge in those obsessive distractions from work that you […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 2

Renaissance

Lermontov’s house is gone now. The foundations have crumbled in upon themselves; the mock-ups of the reconstruction are now covered in graffiti. There will never be any reconstruction. The restaurant called Pur Pur, with its Victorian lampshades and Friday night chanteuse, has closed down without warning. We trade black-market rumors about the reopening.  Of course, […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 2

Visit

“It kept right on snowing almost to April,” I’ll tell my grandkids when they come visit, ignoring me, staring at their holodex. “My sister—your great-aunt Mallory, kiddos—well, we couldn’t believe it, watching the snow falling.” There was so much snow that winter that my father built a luge in the backyard. It was twenty years […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 0

Weems Talks Back: Carrie Mae Weems Uses the Guggenheim’s Margins to Counter Chauvinism

  A glance back at any totalitarian dictatorship is testament to the seductive power of rhetoric, and the Italian Futurist Manifesto, showcased in the Guggenheim’s current exhibition, is no exception, evoking fervor in any unsuspecting reader with its call for unfettered revolt: “We want to glorify war — the only cure for the world — […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 2

The Other Side

Excerpts from “The Other Side” Coming from Tin House Books July 2014

Posted in Essays, Flash Fidelity

Comments: 1

Siamese Cats in Brocade Jackets

Translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel Published by Black Balloon Publishing I’m in Lisbon. I arrive a day before the others, after the miraculous feats of bravery I had to pull off in Bulgaria to get here. The hotel is gradually filling up with lots of writers I don’t know. We’re about to take […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 0

Darkmouth Strikes Again

Excerpts from “Darkmouth Strikes Again” (Future Tense Books this spring.

Posted in Essays, Flash Fidelity

Comments: 0

On Madeleines and Memory

There is an undeniable connection between food and memory. One taste of a familiar, yet long forgotten food can transport you back in time to places that no longer exist. In Swann’s Way, a simple madeleine serves as a bridge to the past. As the narrator struggles to catch hold of the memory that begins […]

Posted in Carte du Jour, Essays

Comments: 0

Cussword ABC’s

My uncles taught me cusswords to the tune of the ABC’s. I was six. This was Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the mid-eighties.

Posted in Essays, Flash Fidelity

Comments: 1

Donna Tartt and the MacGuffin

I read The Goldfinch last summer when my partner Dustin and I cat-sat for a friend in Woodstock for 8 days, a busman’s holiday. I was working on my novel, he was working on our script, and we wanted to go off and be in the relative quiet of the woods as we did this, […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 1

The Settlers: An Exclusive Essay from The Believer

As you may have heard by now, both Tin House and its beloved, smart, and good looking literary sibling the Believer are offering up a joint promotion where for only $65,  you’ll get a year’s subscription to both magazines (Subscribe today! Here!). To help move product celebrate this unique partnership, we decided it might be fun […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 0

Amtrak and Letting Go

For many of us who attended AWP in Seattle, the biggest obstacle in returning home was a wicked hangover and/or an overpacked suitcase full of books. For Jen Fitzgerald, the odyssey was a bit more complicated.  The bus driver’s palm was bloodied where the screwdriver had slid across it. He pried the panel off to check […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 4

Watermark Books

More than once in my own fiction, I’ve called Wichita, Kansas a dusty, grown-up cow town. There’s truth in my phrase, but also some exotifying. These days, Wichita is a city with wide streets and a Barnes & Noble spacious enough to fit multiple 747s; the once-patch of prairie is now populated with sprawling aircraft […]

Posted in Book Clubbing, Essays

Comments: 6

Just the Facts

Wandering the aisles of your local bookstore (or the AWP Book Fair in Seattle), marveling at the number of books in the world and the amount of knowledge that fills them? So are we. So is Aaron Labaree, who wrestles with the implications of non-fiction in this essay. When it comes to books and book-buying, […]

Posted in Essays, General

Comments: 2

How Not to Hate Your Friends

AWP can be decadent fun, but its sideshow of agenda-pushing and humblebragging can lead you to feel hungover in more ways than one. If you’re dreading seeing some of your online acquaintances in real life, Courtney Maum (once again) has some tips on how to go from feeling like a “have not” to a “have.” […]

Posted in Essays, Writer's Workshop

Comments: 4

Culture and Imperialism in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

In his 1941 essay “Epic and Novel: Toward a Methodology for the Study of the Novel,” the Russian literary critic and philosopher M.M. Bakhtin cited three elements that distinguish the epic from other forms of storytelling. These distinctions came to mind last week when a mysterious and elaborate—and, it would turn out, aesthetically beautiful—package arrived […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 0

The Red Pen: Thoughts On Editing and Being Edited

When I was in college, I sat down for an informational interview with an editor who mentioned an old saying that one can write or one can edit, but one can’t do both. Maybe people really do go around saying this, but I never did hear anyone else suggest it, and in fact I don’t […]

Posted in Essays, Writer's Workshop

Comments: 4

Cave Dwellings

One cave dwelling looks much the same as another, and this was the very same, the exact tour as yesterday only with a different guide, one younger with longer legs and shorter sideburns whom I found better informed and less attractive. My husband disappeared without a flashlight into the vast sandstone cellar with the rest, […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 3

The Comma That Launched a Thousand Ships

Punctuation altercation illustrates concern for clear communication. Religion. Politics. The Oxford comma. These things should not be discussed in polite company, particularly by people who have strong feelings about them — raising the topic before the eyes of the readers of Tin House is the action of a madwoman. — “There are people who embrace […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 13

Bigger Than Ourselves

We were in the woods and we were high the first time we heard the wolves. Before the wolves, we were in my living room, drinking Mexican Cokes with the windows open. It was the first warm day of spring, the pavement wet from all it was losing, and the curtains blew wild above the […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 1

Hey, Chief

I have a recurring dream that my father is puttering around in his garage, waiting for me to come help him fix his aging Dodge Dakota. He sits there on his Craftsman stool, unburdened by the pains of chemotherapy, brown eyes shining with mirth and wisdom, bent over an old water pump. “Hey, Chief, can […]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 14

The Fiction of Peace

Recently, I was reminded that this was the last Veterans Day of our Iraq and Afghanistan wartime era.

Posted in Essays

Comments: 0