Do you like to read in a dark room with a pleasant fire in the fireplace and a favorite reading lamp while scrunching into the deep cushions of an oversized chair you bought at an estate auction that came with a lifetime supply of antimacassars? Or do you like to take a sling chair down to the beach and soak in the salt and sun while reading a great book and trying at the same time not to get oily fingerprints on each page as it is turned?
Those both sound good to me. I was in the habit of taking one or two weeks down at a beach house and always had a cloth bag full of intended reading: some times I went the route of Big Fat Books and only took two or three (I read War and Peace in one week at the Jersey Shore) and at other times I grabbed eight or ten slimmer volumes, expecting to make room on my bookshelves by knocking off several of those books that just seemed to hang around month after month. I never was as successful as I hoped and even on a cruise (I never get off the ship) I came home with more than one unread book.
Being retired and living in South Carolina now I am far from the crackling fires we used to enjoy up north; but I still like to read in a dark room with a good reading lamp focused on the page. The television is mercifully off and the dogs are sleeping in their favorite haunts, so it’s only me and the book. But as I have admitted many times already, I am becoming more and more reliant on the magic of my iPad to allow me to make the text bigger for my old and somewhat funky eyes. This does have the added advantage since that good reading light is not as important, but I really feel comfortable with the halo of light and even with the backlit iPad, I keep the lights on.
Oh, I don’t go to the shore any more so I’m not sure I would endanger my iPad by taking it down to the salt water, sand, and marauding kids, but I do take it out on the lanai where I can read comfortably while watching the herons and alligators.
But no matter what my actual practices are, the idea of Winter Reading sounds comforting to me. Thus, when I ripped open that plastic envelope containing the newest issue of Tin House I saw the subtitle, Winter Reading, and was ready to go into literary hibernation.
This new issue includes fiction by Joy Williams, Alejandro Zambra, Ursula K LeGuin, Dean Bakopoulos, Rebecca Makkal, John Bandit, Josh Weil, and Madeline ffitch; poetry by Dorothea Lasky, Richard Siken, Jane Hirshfield, Carey McHugh, Frank Stanford, John Goethe, Deborah Landau, K. A. Hays, John Kinsella, and Julia Clare Tillinghast; with features by Alia Volz and Joshua Foster. Add to this several regular departments and reviews and it sounds like a very exciting issue.
Check out the Tin House site if you are not familiar with this fine literary magazine. Remember, you can’t find stuff like this in Popular Photography or the Economist. If you enjoy good writing and esspecially new and exciting writing, Tin House may be just what you’re looking for. The Hope Gangloff painting on the cover of Issue 62 may be worth the cost of the entire publication.
But don’t just go by what I say (even though I have no stake in the magazine), rather, here is what the editor has to say about this new issue:
“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.” Chekhov must’ve been happy when he wrote that. And why are we happy to keep pushing that boulder up the literary hill when we know that it is just going to roll back down and we’re going to have to start all over again? Because putting out issue after issue truly does make us happy. We believe that great writing is as essential to our well-being as bread and wine and a roaring fire. It is also an honor and thrill. A thrill to be surprised time and again, even from work that comes from beyond the grave. Frank Stanford, the gritty Arkansas poet nicknamed the “swamprat Rimbaud, dies nearly forty years ago, but recently a cache of unpublished gems surfaced and we’re delighted to share them with you. Then there is the family of Tin House writers we’ve long known and who never fail to dazzle us with their ability to show us the world anew. In this issue Joy Williams channels the spiritualist Georges Gurdjieff rising the Arizona childhood home of Susan Sontag and Ursula K. LeGuin leads us into a brutally unforgiving desert in her parable “The Jar of Water.” Any slings and arrows of outrageous submissions are worth it when you get to read new poetry from Dorothea Lasky and Richard Siken. And all of the toil and trouble gives way to the excitement of discovering new voices, herewith Madeline ffitch’s story “The Big Woman” and Julia Clare Tillinghast’s poems “And War” and “Nature.” As Tillinghast writes, “In the woods even the insects / Aremoving jewels.” That’s why we keep pushing that snowball up the hill, and why we will keep on keeping on. Throw another log on the fire and join us in forgetting whether it is winder or summer.