Tin House is celebrating its tenth anniversary, but it is the reader who receives the birthday present. The editors celebrate “art that provokes intense emotion,” presenting both psychologically potent stories and poems and interviews that invite the reader to reflect upon their own understanding of art. The top-notch graphic design, with full-bleed photograph pages before each story, makes the stories that much more inviting.
Steve Almond’s “Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched” packs a huge wallop. Dr. Raymond Oss, a psychoanalyst, enjoys the challenge he finds at the poker table. Gary “Card” Sharpe, “enfant terrible of the World Poker Tour,” becomes a patient. Almond weaves the story of the two men together, creating an ending that almost seems inevitable.
Some teenagers think that teachers cease to exist when the final bell rings. The protagonist of Ron Carlson’s “Sunday in Windy Key” learns that there is more to Mr. Prendergas than it seems from his classroom persona.
The poetry in the issue experiments with ideas while remaining accessible. In her poem, “Goo in the Void,” Lucia Perillo creates art out of the one little slip made by Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, the astronaut who accidentally lost her tools in space: “And thanks / to your helmet camera’s not getting smeared, // in the inch between your glove and bag – irrevocable inch – / we see the blue Earth, glowing so lit-up’dly / despite the refuse we’ve dumped in its oceans.” Stephen King’s “Mostly Old Men” casts melancholy light on that necessary nuisance: travel.
The “Lost and Found” book reviews remind the reader about books from the last decade the editors “don’t want to see laid to rest.” The entertaining reviews certainly make the books seem interesting, particularly Brian DeLeeuw’s comments regarding Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, a book in which Carl Wilson does the unthinkable: attempts to truly understand what people love about schmaltz, particularly the work of Celine Dion.