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Summer Reading

Issue #52, Summer, 2012

In the late 1980s, the British music critic Simon Reynolds coined the term “miserabilism” to describe Morrissey and the numerous Manchester bands spreading their very personal gloom across the globe. The word could also be applied to the “Merritt Parkway Novel,” Gerald Howard’s term for the miserabilist fiction produced within a stone’s throw of the road cutting through affluent, suburban Connecticut, from Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit to Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road to Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm. Howard reevaluates the cultural impact of these novels and examines their continuing influence. Fittingly, Tin House 52 features work pushing the realistic envelope, including Amy Hempel’s powerful, closely observed story “A Full Service Shelter,” Alice Munro’s older couple coming to grips with mortality in “Dolly,” Sherman Alexie’s poem of loss and legacies in “Crazy Horse Boulevard,” and Anne Carson’s poetic essay on the idea of threat in “We Point the Bone.” Consider this summer reading as providing a few grains of sand in your suntan lotion, a little bit of grit to remind you of the depth and breadth of the human condition.

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Holly Goddard Jones

THE RIGHT WAY TO END A STORY • Julia had been tending a fantasy about the famous photographer who would be lodging with her at the college's guesthouse

Amy Hempel

A FULL-SERVICE SHELTER • They knew me as one who shot reeking crap out of cages with a hose - and liked it

Alice Munro

DOLLY • There had been some discussion of death. Our deaths

Kristen Iskandrian

THE INHERITORS • After my mother died, a lot of things went into boxes that then disappeared

Jess Row

SUMMER SONG • Much of what they did that summer involved watching

Alexander Maksik

SNAKE RIVER GORGE • Brother, are you happy here? I mean, is this the way you imagined it going? Your life, I mean?

Nina Buckless

DEER • His mother had left him on Thompson's front walkway when he was only four days old

Lee K. Abbott

FROM HERE TO KINGDOM COME • He'd stopped pushing the bike to take a leak and there he was, his privates hanging out, when he noticed something - a body part

Bennett Sims NEW VOICE

HOUSE-SITTING • Within moments of arriving at the cabin, you begin to suspect that the owner is a madman

Adrienne Rich


Cate Marvin


Sherman Alexie


Angelo Nikolopoulos


Barbara Ras


Sandra Beasley


Gerald Howard

NOTES ON THE MERRITT PARKWAY NOVEL • Lasciviousness and lassitude suffuse a subgenre of American belles lettres

Anne Carson

WE POINT THE BONE: AN ESSAY ON THRĒAT • I was flailing at trauma. I worked without realistic expectation of follow-through, not much good at actual harm

Francine Prose

ON ANNIE ERNAUX'S A Man's PlaceWrestling with her father's existence leads the author to consider life's deepest questions

Paul Charles Griffin

ON RAYMOND CHANDLER'S The Lady in the LakeMarlowe's willingness to get up every day and do the right thing in a corrupt society can be an antidote for cynicism

Luis Jaramillo

ON E.M. DELAFIELD'S Diary of a Provincial LadyIt's amazing how persistent the feeling of not-enoughness can be

Robin Romm

ON ALISON LURIE'S The War Between the TatesSubtle judgments and withering observations abound in this book by a baleful comic artist at her most corrosive

Aaron Hamburger

ON PATRICIA HIGHSMITH'S The Tremor of ForgeryThe American master of suspense manufactures a literary masterpiece

Katie Arnold-Ratliff

COOKING WITH FRIENDS • Guess who's coming to dinner? Monica, Chandler, Joey, Rachel, Phoebe, and Ross!