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Issue #3, Winter 1999

Continuing our formula of having no formula, Issue 3 features a previously unpublished interview with the satirist Dawn Powell, the brilliant chronicler of bohemian New York from the thirties through the sixties. There are also profiles of blacklisted writer John Sanford and Mian Mian, mainland China's underground literary sensation whose transgressive writing about sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll has caused her to be dubbed the Poster Child for Spiritual Pollution. Tin House 3 offers nothing millennial, but does contain profound meditations on mortality by poet Yehuda Amichai, a chilling story by Amy Hempel, and possibly the only thing that could unite Jane Austen, Alice B. Toklas and Erskine Caldwell—apple pie. The cover story, "The Devil is a Poet," is by one of this century's most fabulous poets and essayists, Charles Simic, who undertakes a pilgrimage into the heart of Hieronymus Bosch's Temptation of Saint Anthony, divining the comedy and horror inherent in art, poetry, and faith.

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Amy Hempel

BEACH TOWN • 'I didn't have to hide to listen.'

Mian Mian

AN EXCERPT FROM CANDY • 'I am every mother's nightmare.'

John Sanford

AN EXCERPT FROM A PALACE OF SILVER • 'But most painful, most piercing, was a sight of what she'd worn.'

Lisa Zeidner

CHOSEN PEOPLE • 'To commit a sexual act in the face of death was therefore not sacrilege but sanctimony.'

J. Robert Lennon

MAILMAN • 'Words like 'mail fraud' and 'mandatory sentencing' pass through his mind.'

James Conrad

ROAD • 'A high-school English teacher only has so many chances in life to get out, and I took mine the moment it came.'

Chin Ho Chong


Pattiann Rogers


Yehuda Amichai


Marge Piercy


Ed Ochester


David Lehman


Celia Gilbert


Dawn Powell

MEMORIES OF GROUP THEATRE • The final, never-before-published interview with Dawn Powell, one of the greatest comic novelists of the twentieth century, on her ill-fated collaboration with Stella Adler and the Group Theatre in 1932.

Jonathan Napack

CRUEL CITIES • Jonathan Napack profiles China's 'Poster Child for Spiritual Pollution,' the Chinese Gen-X cult sensation Mian Mian, author of 'Candy' (excerpted on page 26), who is openly transgressive both in her personal life and on the page.

Neil Gordon

VISITING MR. SANFORD • Neil Gordon profiles John Sanford, the ninety-four-year-old contemporary of Nathanael West, a prolific realist and outspoken leftist known for his defiance of McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee.

Charles Simic

THE DEVIL IS A POET • The poet ventures to Lisbon's Museu de Arte Antiga to lose himself in the surreal universe of the sixteenth-century triptych 'The Temptation of Saint Anthony.'

Lynne Tillman

DESPERATELY SEEKING JANE AND PAUL BOWLES • Swirling sands, camels, vicious lovers, the Bowleses had it all going on. Tillman goes in search of father figure Paul Bowles.

Frank Bures

On the lost brother, Shiva Naipaul. V.S. Naipaul won the war of sibling rivalry on the battleground of fame and letters. But was his younger brother Shiva the better writer?

Gerald Howard

On The Honey Badger, by Robert Ruark. This vivid portrait of a suave 1950s literary cad finds the author's self-important alter-ego, Alec Barr, gliding through life with enviable ease and panache.

Robert Polito

On Michael Edwards' Priscilla, Elvis and Me: In the Shadow of the King. In his memoir, Edwards--a vainglorious ex-model and former Priscilla Presley boy toy--proves that his obsession with the King is as grand as his obsession with himself.

John Frederick Moore

On David Bradley's 1981 PEN/Faulkner Award winner The Chaneysville Incident, which tells the powerful story of a black historian on a quest to uncover the buried evil of his hometown.

Sallie Tisdale

On Robert Paul Smith's Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing. The charming, pitch-perfect 1958 children's classic is still as sharp and relevant as the day it was written.

Eddie Little

On Alex Abella's The Killing of the Saints. Raymond Chandler with a Latin beat, this fast-aced, hard-boiled mystery follows two Cuban practitioners of Santeria accused of a cold-blooded massacre in Los Angeles's Hispanic community.

Sara Perry

THE APPLE OF THEIR EYES • Sara Perry finds that Jane Austen, Alice B. Toklas, and Erskine Caldwell all baked a mean apple pie.

Benjamin Anastas

SICK ART • The author is truly revolted by art from around the world.