My Brain Hurts

The cover of the new Tin House Magazine (#63,Vol. 16, No. 3) is spot on to illustrate the volume’s theme: Rejection. The editors at Tin House describe it this way:

Tin House

Rejection. Every writer faces it. But more interesting than the ways writers have been rejected are the ways writers reject. For Paul Beatty, the rejection is of our nation’s shameful legacy of racism. In “Looking for Suzanne,” Chris Kraus’s rejected narrator tries to put the pieces of his enigmatic ex together, while in Claire Vaye Watkins’s “The Call,” futuristic California seems to have rejected everyone. Translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky refuse to accept that the classic translations of Russian classics are sacred, and have made a career of breathing new life into Anna Karenina, War and Peace, and Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov, among many others. And channeling their spirit, perhaps, we embrace the opportunity to publish one of Chekhov’s previously untranslated stories, “Artists’ Wives.” Not to be outdone, even from the grave, Hemingway weighs in with a pugilistic letter, also previously unpublished. We all know what being rejected feels like. So it seemed like a gift to offer a handful of writers, including Mitchell S. Jackson and Leslie Jamison, the opportunity to pen their own rejection letters. James Patterson, one of the best-selling authors of all time, addresses us all, urging us to reject rejection and rally around the flag of reading. And poet Mary Ruefle has the last word, flat out rejecting Tin House. Ouch. But you, dear readers, must know we’ll never reject you.

The contents of this issue seem especially rich:


  • The Sellout — Paul Beatty
  • The Call — Claire Vaye Watkins
  • Artist’s Wives — Anton Chekov
  • Mothership — Eric Puchner
  • The Mushroom Queen — Liz Ziemska
  • Looking For Suzanne — Chris Kraus
  • Cumulative Effects — Nancy Reisman
  • The Mansion District — Jessamine chan
  • Maggie Brown — Peter Orner

Add to this poetry by Yusef Komunyakaa, Melissa Broder, Rachel Jamison Webster, Charles Simic, Gretchen Marquette, David Rivard; a sampling of rejection letters from James Patterson, Leslie Jamison, Mitchell S. Jackson, Ernest Hemingway, Mary Ruefle; an interview with Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky; and the usual not-to-be-overlooked features and reviews by the likes of Debra Gwartney, Ann Hodgman. William Todd Seabrook, Emma Komlos-Hrobsky, Ryan Chang, Robin Wasserman, Siyanda Mohutsiwa. How do they get this much goodness in such a portable magazine (and on good paper too!).


I have always been fascinated with the art and mechanics of translation. In college I took Cervantes from Walter (not Richard) Starkey and since we were reading his translation of the novel, we learned a lot during the lectures about the act of translation. So I’m going into the cozy reading room and diving into John Biguenet’s interview article titled “Better a Live Sparrow Than a Stuffed Owl.” (must be an old Russian proverb that Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky reference in the interview … we’ll see).

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