Home » Newpages Blog » Tin House – Fall 2010

Tin House – Fall 2010

Tin House Editor Rob Spillman’s announcement that until 2011 unsolicited submissions will not be considered unless they are accompanied by a receipt for the recent purchase of a new book or literary magazine seems both in keeping with – and in some ways contrary to – the needs, concerns, issues, perspectives, realities, and experiences that surface in the poems, stories, essays, and interview that extrapolate on this issue’s theme, “Class in America.”

Tin House Editor Rob Spillman’s announcement that until 2011 unsolicited submissions will not be considered unless they are accompanied by a receipt for the recent purchase of a new book or literary magazine seems both in keeping with – and in some ways contrary to – the needs, concerns, issues, perspectives, realities, and experiences that surface in the poems, stories, essays, and interview that extrapolate on this issue’s theme, “Class in America.”

Is it more important for a struggling artist to buy a book than a can of soup? It’s not out of the question that such a choice may have to be made by some readers/writers. And public libraries are struggling, too. Perhaps Tin House could require that every writer whose work is selected for publication donate a copy of one of his/her books to a library or to a school. On the other hand, Spillman’s approach has its justifications and merits: if every writer who submitted work to a journal subscribed to that journal, the literary mag industry would be booming.

The role of the book and legal wrangling about copyrighting the printed page are at the heart of one of this issue’s most exciting features, an essay by the widely respected and undeniably influential teacher and scholar Lewis Hyde, “The Enclosure of Culture.” The TOC features other writers of prominence, including Charles Baxter, Lydia Davis (with an excerpt from her new translation of Madame Bovary), Gerald Howard, Major Jackson, Charles Harper Webb, Ed Skoog, Luc Sante, and Antonya Nelson (who introduces the Flaubert chapter), along with several accomplished but lesser known writers. Rose Bunch and Daniel Schoonebeek are this issue’s “new voices” in fiction and poetry respectively.

Class themes and ideas are played out in expected and unexpected ways: the clash of working class upbringings and literary aspirations; the trials and tribulations of the wealthy (really!); the “banality” of middle class life; the relationship of happiness to financial security; the meaning of work; our country’s troubled labor unions (think Jimmy Hoffa). Amy McDaniel describes her experience on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in a brief self-portrait about her role as a “cheesemongress.” Katie Arnold-Ratliff considers the lives of “women of leisure” in the magazine’s Lost & Found section, examining memoirs by Allison Rose and Gloria Vanderbilt. Benjamin Percy offers an exceptionally fine story about class and military service (and, of course, it’s about a whole lot more).

Erika Meitner’s poem, “Terra Nullius,” (a car wreck of a piece, meaning I didn’t want to look and I couldn’t look away) in its particularities may best sum up the issue’s – and literature’s – potential universal appeal. She begins:

The poem in which we drive an hour to the beach and Uncle Dave doesn’t get out of his lawn chair once.
The poem in which we left the yellow plastic shovel behind and everyone is bereft.

And she concludes: “The poem in which we are all in some kind of limbo.” This issue, like every volume of Tin House, is a houseful of highly accomplished writing by the country’s major and up-and-coming writers and literary authorities.
[www.tinhouse.com]

Spread the word!