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Tin House – Winter 2007

Tin House continues their run of excellence with this superb issue – one of their finest. The hot-button piece is Steve Almond’s collection of responses to the hate mail he received as a result of quitting his position at Boston College in protest of Condoleezza Rice being named commencement speaker. The e-mails are shocking, and Almond’s responses vary from whip-smart to insightful to hilarious to scathing all the way to heartbreaking. Almond’s concern for Tom and Katie’s baby in the face of being compared – no, equated – to bin Laden and Zarqawi is touching.

Tin House continues their run of excellence with this superb issue – one of their finest. The hot-button piece is Steve Almond’s collection of responses to the hate mail he received as a result of quitting his position at Boston College in protest of Condoleezza Rice being named commencement speaker. The e-mails are shocking, and Almond’s responses vary from whip-smart to insightful to hilarious to scathing all the way to heartbreaking. Almond’s concern for Tom and Katie’s baby in the face of being compared – no, equated – to bin Laden and Zarqawi is touching. Almond, like truly great comics, isn’t afraid to go for the jugular or make himself look bad, as in a particularly shocking exchange where a doctor (doctor!) accuses Almond of not liking ‘darkies.’ Almond’s reply: “I do like darkies, especially the obedient ones who don’t mind being kept as pets. The ones who are always complaining about slavery and whatever – it gets tiring.” Almond’s mischievous sense of joy in language is also evident in a piece by a new writer, Justin Torres, whose “In the Kitchen” begins with the narrator and his two brothers smashing tomatoes in an imitation of Gallagher, the type of comedian who would, in all likelihood, not find Steve Almond funny. Their mother works late and is constantly confused by time, cooking meals in the middle of the night and sending the boys to bed in the middle of the day. Torres injects such life into this short piece that it’s dispiriting to leave the world he’s created. Other strong pieces in this issue include short fiction by Ron Carlson and Jim Shepherd, and Ben George’s wonderful interview with Rick Bass.
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