True Crime

VOLUME 19, Number 1: True Crime

The town claimed to be shocked by the arrests, but most confided that they’d always known Penny Misko would end up doing something like this. She’d always been a liar and a drunk; it was not hard to imagine that she could leave a neighbor in the road not twenty feet from her front door . . . The more compassionate suggested that maybe she hadn’t known she’d hit someone, but they’d been dismissed. The car’s windshield had been replaced! The police who’d retrieved it from the body shop said the damage was “consistent with something large striking it.” Something like Brenda Leroy’s head. The Miskos had left her in the street, and they’d sat there at their kitchen table listening to the ambulance come and go, and they’d lied, lied, and lied again. And Brenda was their neighbor. She’d known them her whole life. Penny had worked with Brenda’s mother at the sleeping bag factory. Penny Misko was a terrible person. Not guilty? they said. Please.

So writes Karen Shepard, describing the impact of a hit-and-run on a close-knit community. This fall, Tin House explores the gamut of true crime, from In Cold Blood and Charles Starkweather to the subprime mortgage crisis and police brutality. We’ve got poetry and prose that address our impulses surrounding crime and injustice—the voyeuristic fascination with it and the urge to indict, among others—and the difficult work of survival and healing.

We envisioned the theme of True Crime as a way to engage with our country’s voyeuristic obsession with rogues and outlaws, the Starkweathers marauding our badlands. Justin St. Germain, in his essay “Murder Tourism in Middle America,” returns to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and visits the Kansas village of Holcomb as a way to confront his own mother’s murder. The fiction writers take us into the gray, Tayari Jones exploring a night in question in an excerpt from her new novel, An American Marriage, and in her short story “Rescue,” Karen Shepard unravels a tight-knit community’s reluctance to face the truth about a deadly hit-and- run. Hafizah Geter’s searing “Testimony” series of four poems—for Eric Garner, for Michael Brown, for Sandra Bland, for Tamir Rice—gives voices to those silenced by police brutality. Claire McQuerry’s poems view the American dream through the jaundiced lens of the subprime mortgage scandal. And Matthew Zapruder’s “Paul Ryan” is a grand indictment that offers the rarest gifts—grace and transcendence from our current criminal state. Where there is friction, there is fire. We hope that this incendiary issue burns clear and bright.

Featuring:

Fiction

Tayari Jones — AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE
Karen Shepard — RESCUE
Bryan Washington — 610 NORTH, 610 WEST
Lydia Conklin — THE BATTLE OF THE FOUR SEASON
Tim Griffith — THE BOATHOUSE

Poetry

Hafizah Geter
TESTIMONY
TESTIMONY
TESTIMONY

Roger Reeves
PAST BARABBAS
PRAYER OF THE JAGUAR

Dan Bellm
ELECTION ELEGY

Matthew Zapruder
PAUL RYAN

Craig Santos Perez
RINGS OF FIRE

Terrance Hayes
AMERICAN SONNET FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN
AMERICAN SONNET FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN
AMERICAN SONNET FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN
AMERICAN SONNET FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN

Erika Meitner
JACKHAMMERING LIMESTONE

Claire McQuerry
THE HEART CAN THIRST BECAUSE OBSESSION IS A MORE COUNTRY
YOUR FRIENDLY BANK IS OFFERING

Alexandra Teague
AMERICAN HEPATOMANCY

Sam Sax
POEM IN WHICH THE WRITER SEES HIMSELF IN AN OLD TEXTBOOK
EXECUTIVE ORDER

Federico García Lorca
THE MARKED MAN

Amanda Hawkins
AMERICANS AT YAD VASHEM

Teri Ellen Cross Davis
CRESCENDO

Essays

Héctor Tobar — HILLSIDES AND FLATLANDS
Mitchell S. Jackson — SURVIVOR FILES
Luc Sante — A BOY AND A GIRL AND A CAR AND A GUN
Liza Ward — DOUBLE EXPOSURE
Justin St. Germain — MURDER TOURISM IN MIDDLE AMERICA
Claire Vaye Watkins — TRESPASSING
Jeff Smith — HOW I WENT FROM SENATOR TO PETTY THIEF
Arthur Bradford — CENTRAL BOOKING

Books Lost & Found

Jordan Foster — MURDER BY THE BOOK
Morgan Jerkins — ON SUZANNE CESAIRE’S “THE MALAISE OF A CIVILIZATION
Alix Hawley — ON HARRIETTE WILSON’S MEMOIRS
Willy Vlautin — ON CHARLES WILLEFORD’S PICK UP
J.C. Hallma ◊ ON MAX APPLE’S THE PROPHETEERS

And a Readable Feast

Kathleen Alcott — SERVES THREE

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