Tribes

Tin HouseIt’s here: the latest issue of Tin House. I look for this well constructed, entertaining, and informative journal every quarter. This year I renewed my subscription for a few years but it wasn’t easy. Seems Tin House, which is headquartered in Oregon, uses a financial service in Florida to process payments, especially credit card payments. But the bank flagged the translacton as possibly fraudulent; I couldn’t identify the biller or if the biller was being represented, the billing processor; so I was forced to assume the charge might actually be fraudulent. My credit cards were torn up and I have to wait for new ones in the mail.

However, logic told me that someone fraudulently using my credit card number would not have charged such a reasonable amount (especially one that looks so common) and left it at that, so I went back over my activities for the previous month. Of course I discovered that I had charged the exact amount in question about three weeks before the bank got the charge and my subsequent query to Tin House confirmed that it was in fact the very transaction that I had denied as possibly fraudulent.

The Tin House folks were not upset and I renewed with another credit card with no problem (so far).

The new issue is Tin House # 61, Volume 14, Number 1: Tribes. Here’s what they say about the issue at their website:

Globalism’s ascendance was supposed to send tribalism the way of the dodo. Yet from Waziristan to Williamsburg, tribal affiliations still dictate social order. There may now be more societal fluidity, but finding one’s tribe within nomadic urban cultures has never felt more urgent. And the tales told within ancient or temporary tribes shape and define these societal organizations. In this issue we turn to our favorite storytellers and poets, hoping to arrest time long enough for them to show us what life is like in our contemporary tribes. There are Julia Elliott’s cavemen and cavewomen wannabes in her story “Caveman Diet” and Alice Sola Kim’s teenage Korean American adoptees trying to find their place in the suburban jungles of “Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying.” Roxane Gay looks at the complicated way her Haitian American family handles the consumption of food from both countries. We asked five very different writers—Stacey D’Erasmo, Tayari Jones, David Shields, Zak Smith, and Molly Ringwald—to give us short takes on moments of belonging (or not). The poets, including Tony Hoagland, Cate Marvin, and Eavan Boland, naturally cut to the emotional core of what it means to claim or to be claimed by a tightly bound group.Whatever your other tribes, because you have read these words, we now consider you part of the Tin House tribe. No initiation rituals or signifying tattoos necessary, just please enjoy the issue.

And an overview of the contents:

  • Fiction: Alice Sola Kim, Tove Jansson, Jess Walter, Julia Elliott, Alexander Chee
  • Poetry: Tony Hoagland, Cate Marvin, Maya C. Popa, Eavan Boland, Jenny Browne, Jennifer S. Cheng, Thomas Sayers Ellis
  • Features: Mike Smith, Elissa Altman, Sara Roahen, Robert Anthony Siegel
  • Members Only: Stacey D’Erasmo, Tayari Jones, David Shields, Zak Smith, Molly Ringwald
  • Interview: Annie Baker and Benjamin Nugent
  • Lost & Found: Matthew Specktor, Eric Nelson, Maria Bustillos, Sharon Sook Yan Wong, Ann DeWitt
  • Readable Feast: Roxane Gay

Flipping through the pages I latched onto a story by Julia Eliot: Caveman Diet. I vaguely recall something in the dietary book field with a similar title. Here is the start of the story:

FabioClad in a deerskin loincloth, his ripped body gleaming with boar lard, Zugnord looms above us on a stone dais. We are flabby newbies, he tactfully suggests, snatched from the industrial teat of civilization, where we’ve grown battery fed and soft, our blood percolating with poisons. We are half-dead, our brains zombified by office work and Internet surfing. We are discontent. But so was Zugnord once. Projected behind him on a vast screen is his former self, Wilbur Sims, a paunchy, befuddled dumpling of a man in rumpled khakis. He squints at the camera like some subterranean rodent.

We gasp. For how could this clammy balding creature have transformed into Zugnord? Zugnord with his glistening pecs and flowing Tarzan hair? Zugnord with his bold eagle eyes? Zugnord, who looks as though he could leap over a boulder and tackle a mastodon, gut it with a piece of expertly chiseled flint?

Is this a secret fantasy? How many guys wish they looked like Fabio, not to mention how many women want their guys to look like Fabio? Well, not as many as you might expect. But still, could we change from our sedentary lives weebling between the couch and the refrigerator and become powerful and dangerous just by eating nothing but bearcat stew? Maybe we all should look into this diet and see what Julia Elliot has to say.

Pardon me: I’m reading it now … get your own copy!

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