Winter Reading

Issue #58, Winter, 2013

Travel, like great writing, makes us look at the world through new eyes. This past summer I searched for stories over four continents, from Florence to Portland to Lima to Brisbane. And I was continually rewarded by narrative, in its many forms, from the 15th century paintings in Florence and Cuzco, to poems I heard read aloud in Portland and Brisbane. After a week deep in the Amazon, I was hardly a local but I became acclimated enough to see and appreciate everything I’d missed when I first arrived. It is the same with reading—we enter every new work of fiction or poetry as a stranger, an outsider, and if the author is a sure and able guide, as Steven Millhauser is in “Arcadia” or Paul Willems is in “Cathedral of Mist,” then his world becomes a place we experience on all levels. Such authenticity transcends borders, language, and time. In rare moments of transcendence my experience of a story or poem felt like a slap to the face. The alchemical mix of language and idea so jarred me that I was forced to reexamine my previous assumptions. One such instance was when Major Jackson read from his epic poem-in-progress, “OK Cupid,” at our Writer’s Workshop in Portland. There was a collective intake of breath when he launched and it seemed like no one exhaled until the last line. I hope it hits you as hard as it did us.

A note about the digital versions: If you read on a Kindle, use the Mobipocket edition; for all other e-readers, use the ePub edition.

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Steven Millhauser

ARCADIA • Are you tired of life's burdens? Welcome to Arcadia, a peaceful woodland retreat.

Fiona Maazel

MY DAD HAS • My dad has lymphedema, which is when one of your limbs swells up like a water wing.

Paul Willems

THE CATHEDRAL OF MIST, TRANSLATED BY EDWARD GAUVIN • The architecht V. renounced the use of stone. After years of meditation, he built a cathedral of mist.

Elisa Albert

I AM HAPPY FOR YOU THAT YOU ARE SO HAPPY • Her name's Mina Morris, the poet. Also quasi-known as the bass player from the Misogynists.

Alexander Maksik

TRIM PALACE • When I ran into Joshua for the first time in nine years, I was working the Delta terminal and had just cleaned the men's room next to Malibu Al's.

Chinelo Okparanta

MARTA • There are six of us. We are gathered in the cemetery where the tombstones rise low.

Shirley Jackson

MRS. SPENCER AND THE OBERONS • The first sign that the Oberons were coming night have been early blossoms on the peach tree, but Mrs. Spencer did not know until she got the letter.

Jenny Offill

VOYAGER • Just after she turns five, my daughter starts making confessions to me.

Patricia Lockwood

THE BIBLE

Meghan O'Rourke

CITY OF ANGELS
NIGHT DREAM

Britta Ameel

AUTOPSY
URCHIN

Kazim Ali

MOSAIC (HIS PRAYER)
JOHN

Wong May

FEAR AND HESITANCY AT THE OPTOMETRIST
THE DIPLOMA

Kevin Young

WINEHOUSE
WINEHOUSE

Dora Malech

ARE NOT NO TEAR

Mark Z. Danielewski

AT YOUR HOSPITAL BED

Bianca Stone

from PRACTICING VIGILANCE

Josh Bell

ONE DAY, ALONE ON THE HOUSEBOAT, VINCE NEIL CHANGES THE NAME OF EVERYONE HE HAS KNOWN, KNOWS, OR IS LIKE TO KNOW—MALE AND FEMALE—TO JAMES

Major Jackson

OK CUPID

Kevin Henkes

THE ART OF THE PICTURE BOOK • As part of a loose series in which we talk with writers working in genres outside of our typical purview, Tin House editor Michelle Wildgen picked the brain of the award-winning children's book author.

Robert Stone

BEING THERE • The oft-acclaimed novelist and short-story writer sat down with Tin House editor, Rob Spillman. They discussed morality in fiction, the organizing princple of insight, and the high jinks of the Merry Pranksters.

Robert Anthony Siegel

ON YASUNARI KAWABATA'S Snow CountryDon't we ask for doomed and hopless things from books all the time?

Dani Shapiro

ON ELIZABETH HARDWICK'S Sleepless NightsIncandescent, elliptical, challenging, her language itself is the story.

Gabrielle Gantz

ON TOVE JANSSON'S The Summer Book and The True DeceiverIn these books, Finland resonates, sticks to your bones and rattles them.

Rachel Monroe

ON MAY SARTON'S The House by the SeaHer appetite for solitude was so great she just had to tell someone.

Tobias Carroll

ON ROBERTSON DAVIES'S What's Bred in the BoneLearning to live, for art's sake.