Theft At the Tin House


The new Tin House Magazine arrived yesterday and I have been lost in its pages ever since. Look at that cover art: how can you resist looking inside.

Actually this excellent journal (#65) is given the highly evocative title of Theft. The editor introduces the volume:

“Talent borrows, genius steals” is usually attributed to Oscar Wilde, and occasionally Pablo Picasso. There is, however, no record of either one actually saying or writing this. T. S. Eliot, on the other hand, wrote, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.” Theft and appropriation have always been artistic engines. In this issue, Kevin Young—poet, essayist, and anthologist—looks at how thievery is done well (Bob Dylan) and not so well (Jonah Lehrer). Mary Ruefle and Erika Meitner demonstrate the art of erasure, turning extant texts into ready-made poetry. Victor LaValle remembers the time he played at being a teen runaway in Times Square. Pulitzer Prize winner Adam Johnson returns to our pages, and to Korea, with his story “Fortune Smiles,” in which North Korean expat grifters try to navigate the laws and mores of Seoul. We sent out a call for short essays about memorable thefts, and it is an honor to have the call answered by the doyen of crime writers, Mary Higgins Clark, alongside Alissa Nutting, George Singleton, and Laura Lippman. Clark reminds us that, in Shakespeare’s words, “The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief.” Enjoy.

The idea of great writers stealing from those that went before, coupled with the literary theories of the Venerable Bloom, surely make for a firm foundation in the study of literature.

As usual, this volume of Tin House is packed with great fiction, much appreciated poetry, and plenty of articles and reviews to keep the literary fires burning. Here is the compact version of the Table of Contents for Volume 17, Issue 1 of Tin House:


  • Samantha Hunt — The Removers
  • Kevin Barry — Monument
  • Matt Bell, — Toward the Company of Others
  • Kirsten Bakis — The Thief
  • Adam Johnson — Fortune Smiles

Poetry by:

  • Timothy Liu
  • David Baker
  • Khadijah Queen
  • Matthew Zapruder
  • Erika Meitner
  • William Logan

Features by:

  • Kevin Young
  • Ginger Strand
  • Mary Ruefle,
  • Victor LaValle
  • Jillian Weise
  • Sarah Dohrmann
  • Jenn Shapland (NEW VOICE)

I’ve Been Robbed:

  • Laura Lippman
  • Mary Higgins Clark
  • Alissa Nutting
  • George Singleton

Lost & Found:

  • Michael Peck
  • Katherine Hill
  • Thomas Ross
  • Aaron Gilbreath
  • Paul J. Marasa

Readable Feast:

  • Michael Ruhlman

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