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The Fiction of War

In March, the country reflected on the 10-year anniversary of the Iraq War and then moved on. As a veteran of that war, I’d like to think I moved on as well. I returned from Iraq in November 2007, left the Army in March 2009, and remained jobless for nearly a year after. I walked [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 1

We Might As Well Leave Now, Fanny (An Excerpt from The Joker)

Love is the fart of every heart: It pains a man when ’tis kept close, And others doth offend, when ’tis let loose. Sir John Suckling (1609-1642) When I think of the women I have loved or almost loved, I remember the luxurious, almost lascivious, delectations of shared laughter.  When a woman and I moved [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 0

Lydia Davis Dines Alone

10,000 cheers to Lydia Davis, who was awarded the Man Booker International Prize yesterday. Sir Christopher Ricks, chairman of the judges, said her “writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind. Just how to categorise them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms [...]

Posted in Essays, From The Vault

Comments: 1

Selling on the Street: The Writer as Hustler

While reading a collection of New York Times subway stories called Subwayland, I found the story of Adrian Brune. When the original article came out in 2003, Brune was twenty-seven, a recent graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and she was in the Times Square and Grand Central subway stations selling printouts of [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 2

On Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg

As I sit here at my desk in Northwest Portland, in a lime-green apartment full of skylights, sandwiched between Tin House Magazine and Tin House Books, reading the dynamic and very brave poems my grad students at Portland State are writing—I find myself thinking, in the most basic terms, about what it means to be [...]

Posted in Essays, Poetry

Comments: 1

Crib Notes For Your Book Club

jjjjj As Stephen Sparks previously mentioned, a good number of us book lovers like to go around talking about novels we have never read. I mean, who has time to read The Flamethrowers when this is happening? Still, it can be a tad bit embarrassing to get caught with your literary pants down by someone [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 1

She Came to Stay

Matt and I broke up a dozen times before our grand finale, which ended with an admission impossible to move past: I told him I was gay.

Posted in Essays

Comments: 0

I’m a Fan #5

For the last several years, my mother has been working on a book about Moby Dick. Her working process is very particular; it consists of her breaking the book down, page by page, setting aside a three-by-five index card for each page, and then taking copious notes on both sides of the card concerning the [...]

Posted in Essays, I'm a Fan

Comments: 2

A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind

Alfred Starr Hamilton (1914-2000), whose poetry has just been resurrected by The Song Cave in the collection A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind, is an embodiment of a recognizable fringe, the outsider artist. The outsider, a familiar if not always friendly creature, is often little unhinged; she—I take up the feminine pronoun in honor of [...]

Posted in Essays, Lost & Found

Comments: 1

How To Bury Our Dead

An excerpt from Amber Dawn’s new book, How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir, which came out on Tuesday. How To Bury Our Dead for Shelby Tom Have you ever had to attend a Catholic or Sikh or Japanese or Irish funeral and felt a little uncertain about the cultural grieving practices? We can [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 1

On All the Living by C.E. Morgan

There are two subjects that pose near-insurmountable difficulties to any novelist who wishes to write about them with accuracy or grace: sex and God. The former is a widely recognized trap for writers, so much so that the British magazine Literary Review has, in every year since 1993, doled out an annual Bad Sex in [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 2

X-ray Papa Copies All, Over

Normally Tommy would wager in the low to mid-teens. On this night he bet 48. It was an unreasonably high number for any night, let alone during the Afghan rainy season, when an almost permanent wall of thunderstorms pounded the eastern half of the country with an angry mix of lightning, sleet, and hail. Although [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 1

What We Talk About When We Talk About All Net

Hey Tin House Hoopsters, picture this as we enter the final week of March Madness! Your bracket is nearly entirely busted, but for a team or two hanging by a thread. Your favorite team is out. You won’t win the office pool, but you may still claim victory in the last game of smack talk [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 0

A Successful Repetition

The first time I finished reading Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, I was sitting in Caribou Coffee on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, ducking my college orientation. I had skipped every session that weekend to read; the final 30 pages of the book are the first time I can recall having one of those really out [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 3

Basketball In The Blood

Welcome to March Madness at Tin House! In the back lot, Sherman Alexie strokes money J’s like he breathes air. Jess Walter shoots a rainbow jumper that is pure butter. Natalie Diaz posts you up and makes you look like a fool as she lofts a jump hook as cool as the other side of [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 4

A Book I Haven’t Read

“… For Mallarmé the perfect book is one whose pages have not been cut, their mystery forever preserved, like a folded bird’s wing, or a fan never opened.” – Maggie Nelson, Bluets I have not read one of my favorite books. I’ve lied about it for years and although I no longer remember the circumstances [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 8

Postmarked

To him, I wish I could have a matcha tea, the frothed pond scum kind from that Japanese brasserie next to the Crillon, the hotel where I found this little stuffed elephant that follows me around when I travel. Dumbelina, she’s called, a cruel nickname someone once gave me, and I love her. She was [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 1

The Names of Trees

I began the email, “I am looking out my window at the snow-capped postal van and the bare branches…” I stopped; I didn’t know what sort of tree it was. Goethe, the writer of The Sorrows of Young Werther and Faust, could approximate the age of any tree from the width of its trunk. Yet, [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 2

Kerouac’s Last Stand

Say Jack Kerouac and you think the ultimate American road trip, but the writer’s ancestral roots actually lie in France and in 1965 he went looking for them. By that point Kerouac was a raging alcoholic. In Paris, he began days with a beer and a cognac, by evening he had deteriorated into a teetering [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 1

Three Kisses

  Somehow it was decided that Scott, Chad, and me were going to kiss Beth, Kristy, and Tasha. Beth was the tomboy with short dark hair. Kristy was the one with dimples and feathered hair. Tasha was short and freckled with red hair to match. It was the last day of school. The last day [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 0

Carpentaria

To truly get away from civilization is an achievement. It is also traumatic. I once spent three weeks at my grandmother’s cabin in the Caribel mountains of rural Idaho. She had moved there from Half Moon Bay in the 80s after falling for a trucker who fancied himself a cowboy, following him into what he called, [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 0

Bridge: End Play

The Games We Play: Bridge

Posted in Essays

Comments: 4

Women Gone Wild

A pair of rather vulvar curlicues bracketed the words: Bitches And Sad Ladies. The cover’s red-purple color-scheme looked like something, to quote my father, “from a whore’s boudoir.” The typeface and the teal-edged pages identified the book as a relic of the 70’s. I was about to show it to my book-shopping companion, eyebrow raised. [...]

Posted in Essays, Literary B-Sides

Comments: 2

The Business of Tracking Lit Mag Submissions

  In an age of smart phones and cloud storage, few things seem more primitive than a manila folder with a slice of white paper in it, but that’s what I use to keep track of the essays I submit to literary magazines. My system is simple: one folder for each essay I’m submitting, and [...]

Posted in Essays

Comments: 5

Dispatches from Russia: Yuz Aleshkovsky

This is the third installment of Marcia DeSanctis’s series on three of Russia’s most influental 20th-century writers—Joseph Brodsky, Vladimir Voinovich, and Yuz Aleshkovsky.  Joseph Brodsky admired Yuz Aleshkovsky greatly and made an introduction for me. His book Kangaroo, which had just been published by Ardis in the US, was by far my favorite book of 1987 [...]

Posted in Essays, Interviews

Comments: 0