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Clock

My grandmother had a mechanical wall clock powered by weights. To wind it, she pulled down one of the weights, and for the next twelve hours, the clock ticked off the lengths of the chain as the counterbalance forced it back up. When I spent the summers with my grandmother on the Karelian peninsula, my […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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Freebird: An Excerpt

Freebird is out now from Graywolf Press.  Jon will be reading this Friday (January 20th/7:30) at Powell’s City of Books. You could always get unmarried in life. You could switch jobs. You could get fat and turn around and get thin again. You could change your haircut a thousand times. But there was one thing […]

Posted in Excerpts, Fiction

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I Lived in Los Angeles

  I don’t know the people I live with very well because we rarely talk beyond one-sentence exchanges, so when I walked down the stairs and saw the Mrs. and Mr. in a hot tub, I thought it couldn’t get much worse, but it did because she didn’t have a top on. So I said, […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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Intruders in Ms. Hansen-Knudsen’s Class

  1. THE UNBORN Ms. Hansen-Knudsen was the most beautiful woman on earth, so her second-grade class was not surprised when the two chicks emerged fuzzy and so plump, and calm-seeming, and sunshine yellow: perfect. For a time their little chirps floating out from the pouch Ms. Hansen-Knudsen made in her blouse were enough to put […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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Aquabot

Since Kurt didn’t relate well to living things, his sister Val got him an Aquabot for his birthday. It arrived from Amazon in an oversized box that held an ordinary glass fishbowl, a green plastic shark and an extra card of button batteries. “Activates when submerged in water,” the directions said, so Kurt filled the […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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Saint Burma

Plottoists brought it all back home last week for our final round of THE MASTER CONTEST OF ALL PLOTS, and the judges phoned in from their respective Thanksgiving locations to fight it out for the winning story. Congratulations to winner Nikki HoSang, whose clever “Saint Burma” delivers a homecoming we never expected. Jo was fluffing […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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Laws

PLOTTO took a turn for the harrowing last week. Protagonists committed crimes ranging from casual murder to poor artistic taste, political apathy to the unleashing of spiders. Or did they? Congratulations to winner Zana Previti, whose mysterious “Laws” brought us characters so convincing we thought we knew them, and so haunting that, by the end, […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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PLOTTO: THE MASTER CONTEST OF ALL PLOTS, Week 5!

Calling all writers who are obsessed with plot and obsessives who can write a mean story. We want you!

Posted in Events, Fiction, Tin House Books

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Thanksgiving

  Fictional writers got more than they bargained for last week. They sparred with disgruntled protagonists, relived their memoirs, and reckoned with that minor character they killed off in Chapter One. Congratulations to the winner of Week Three, Carolyn Oliver, whose poignant “Thanksgiving” reminded us the story is never over.  Check out this week’s prompt […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays, General

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PLOTTO: THE MASTER CONTEST OF ALL PLOTS, WEEK 4 of 5

Calling all writers who are obsessed with plot and obsessives who can write a mean story. We want you!

Posted in Events, Fiction, Tin House Books

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Beneath the Red Cap: An Interview with a Hillary Hater

“Why don’t you trust Hillary Clinton? Say it out loud, please. I want you to hear your answers.”

“She wants it too much?”

“She’s too ambitious?”

“Too ambitious?”

“Is that a problem for someone running for president, to really want to be president?”

Posted in Fiction, General

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Rust

Ghosts. Talking plants. A sense of self. Just a few of the (sometimes hazardous) surprises in store for last week’s protagonists as they took took up quarters in a vacant house. Congratulations to the winner of Week Two, Annesha Sengupta for her story “Rust.” The more times we read it, the eerier it gets. Check out […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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PLOTTO: THE MASTER CONTEST OF ALL PLOTS, WEEK 3 of 5

Calling all writers who are obsessed with plot and obsessives who can write a mean story. We want you!

Posted in Events, Fiction, Tin House Books

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Wordstock Week: Helen Phillips

How can I talk about them. The aliens, the form they chose to take. The pinafore, the suspenders. The broad white collars and the big black buttons.

Posted in Events, Fiction

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Hey Neighbor

Week One of PLOTTO: THE MASTER CONTEST OF ALL PLOTS brought in an overwhelming array of great stories. We found ourselves in busy train stations, fish markets, and test labs. Strangers passed each other cryptic letters, time-travel talismans, howling babies. And then they vanished, leaving us eager for more. Congratulations to last week’s winner, John Lawton, […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays, Tin House Books

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Wayward Heroes: An Excerpt

An excerpt from the forthcoming release from Archipelago Books. Translated from Icelandic by Philip Roughton THE SWORN BROTHERS had their men fish, hunt, and forage, and they berthed their boat in little inlets in the evening. They never strayed far from the boat. They took great pleasure in the sport of searching cliffs for seabirds […]

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PLOTTO: THE MASTER CONTEST OF ALL PLOTS, WEEK 2 of 5

Calling all writers who are obsessed with plot and obsessives who can write a mean story. We want you!

Posted in Events, Fiction, Tin House Books

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La Grande Guerre

A parasol and a stone seawall and a polished lady clad all in white: ostrich feather hat, fringed purse, silk gloves. Her posture lovely, her coiffure tight. But Mag has planted a flower in front: a blue hydrangea pom-pomming preposterously. Star-shaped blossoms facade what Georgette would most like to see: is the lady’s face as […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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PLOTTO: THE MASTER CONTEST OF ALL PLOTS, WEEK 1 of 5

Calling all writers who are obsessed with plot and obsessives who can write a mean story. We want you!

Posted in Events, Fiction, Tin House Books

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Everyone

This isn’t one of those stories where someone has cancer. In this story, everyone has cancer. Everyone is sitting in a room with an old friend, while the sunlight fades behind a stretch of Victorians and old oaks, and the room goes dark and only the candle light illuminates their faces, and they talk about cities in […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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The Three Dreams of Mark Glass

Mark dreams of the desert: every fall his father buys instant oats and canned beans and unrolls the sleeping bags from the crawlspace. His mother fills two-gallon jugs of water and they pack the car and drive south along the river. Mark associates the changing season not with tingeing leaves, but with the bedroom warmth […]

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Liking

My friend asks me why I like her, but I don’t know what this question means, let alone how to answer it. Liking is a fundamentally unstable state with its own laws. There are some people who I agree with in every way and yet I don’t like them at all, while there are others […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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What Becomes Us: An Excerpt

Our parents had failed five months in a row to make a baby…

Posted in Excerpts, Fiction

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Brown Dog and Gee

She wasn’t going to the hospital again, no way. It smelled like pee there and her mother always yelled at her to stop kicking her foot against the leg of the chair while they waited for the doctor. She didn’t like the hospital, despite what her dad said: “Well, for not liking it, you sure […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays, General

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1968 – 1971: A Humiliated Student

From the memoir Cockroaches, out next week from our friends at Archipelago Books. Arriving at the Lycée Notre-Dame-de-Cîteaux with the little card-board suitcase once used by my brother André, and then by Alexia, I was filled with hope and apprehension at the same time. My apprehensions were more than justified, but I never lost hope. I’d […]

Posted in Excerpts, Fiction

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