I have been receiving two literary journals almost since day one: Conjunctions is published twice a year and I tend to forget about it with such a long wait between issues; however, Tin House is published quarterly and, interestingly, it seems to arrive in my mailbox with little delay (at least when compared to Conjunctions). Well, the Summer Reading issue of Tin House just came. I was truly surprised this time because just as I reached into the mailbox, the mother bird building her nest in my newspaper slot decided to fly out and cause my leaky heart to skip a beat or two.
It’s true that I seem to never finish reading any of my literary journals but I do keep them on shelves alongside my bed for some sleepy-time reading or for something stimulating while I lay in bed in the morning wishing I had purchased an espresso machine that not only made the coffee but also delivered it to my bedside.
Since our first issue, back in 1999, we have prided ourselves on recognizing new voices. It has been a thrill to discover writers such as Victor LaValle, Justin Torres, and Dylan Landis, and then to watch their careers unfold and blossom. It speaks well of the current literary climate that we are continually surprised and excited by previously unknown writers. For this issue, five New Voices caught our eye. Poets Diana M. Chien and Cody Carvel dazzled us with their energy and wit, while Mary Barnett grabbed our attention with her essay about a decades-old trauma and her continuing struggle to heal. We admired the confidence and precision of the prose in the short stories of Sarah Elaine Smith and Matthew Socia—Smith’s “Pink Lotion” following a problematic addiction recovery, Socia’s “American Tramplings” being the tale of a stampede epidemic.
While discovering emerging writers is always a thrill, it is a different excitement reading the work of masters who are in full command of their powers. For readers unfamiliar with the latest Nobel Laureate, Patrick Modiano, his “Page-a-Day” (beautifully translated from the French by Edward Gauvin) is an ideal introduction, wherein the author explores his favorite subject—Paris—and obsesses on time, memory, and the legacy of World War II. In “Forgetting Mississippi,” Lewis Hyde revisits the brutal 1964 murder of two young black men. Hyde, who was a civil rights activist at the time, not only puts the crime in context but also does the seemingly impossible—searches for forgiveness. Kimiko Hahn, the author of seven volumes of poetry and winner of numerous awards, demonstrates in her four poems how she continues to push her art, reminding us that no matter how accomplished, discovery is experienced poem to poem, word to word. Here’s to renewal and discovery.
Patrick Modiano, Jodi Angel, Tara Ison, Greg Hrbek, Smith Henderson, Jennifer S. Davis, Sarah Elaine Smith NEW VOICE, Matthew Socia NEW VOICE
Catherine Barnett, Kimiko Hahn, Jenny Xie, Rita Gabis, Ed Skoog, Robert Duncan Gray, Diana M. Chien NEW VOICE, Cody Carvel NEW VOICE
Paul Kirchner, Lewis Hyde, David Gessner, Mary Barnett NEW VOICE
Lost & Found:
Rachel Riederer, Jonathan Russell Clark, Jessica Handler, S. Shankar, John Reed