Tin House Volume 20, Number 1: Poison
One night after I’d turned off my reading light but not yet sunk into sleep, an uneasy feeling swept up my back. I was accustomed to the sweep of shadows along the walls as the train emptied its passengers and they marched by my windows and cars braked at the corner stoplight, but one shadow had stopped, its source blocking the stripe of light at the corner of my closest window.
‘Hey, baby’ a voice murmured from outside. ‘Are you sleeping?
—MELISSA FEBOS, Intrusions“
Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.” So said Paracelsus, the sixteenth-century Swiss physician credited with creating laudanum. In our toxic times, it seems as if there are very few remedies and that all is, indeed, poisonous. What, then, must writers do? Come up with remedies? Use the poison to cleanse, to heal, or simply to attack what is attacking us?
Poets like Hadara Bar-Nadav use fragments—“grammar / broken along the way”—to try to manage the poison. While Deb Olin Unferth sends a poison pen to Marie Kondo and her Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: “I ask you, is there any image more gross than an upper-middle-class American standing over their possessions and imagining that everything in view wants to serve them? That’s some evil shit.” Melissa Febos, in her powerful essay “Intrusions,” confronts the toxic male gaze. In Jonathan Durbin’s disturbing futuristic story, “Sisters,” Brooklyn is overrun by deadly weeds, and in Katie Coyle’s darkly comic story, “The Little Guy,” an unseen creature hides in the walls of a woman’s house. Warning: this issue may make you itch and squirm, and could uncomfortably elevate your heartbeat, but also may make you see anew and may even bring unexpected feelings of euphoria. Consume responsibly and with caution. Or not.
Fiction from Katie Coyle, Jonathan Durbin, Elisa Albert, Ben Lasman, and Ethan Rutherford
Poetry from Fran Tirado, Catherine Wing, Diana Marie Delgado, Fady Joudah, Deborah Keenan, Tess Taylor, Lory Bedikian, Nicole Callihan, Joshua Bennett, Hadara Bar-Nadav, and Jennifer Militello
Nonfiction from Melissa Febos and New Voice Lisa Grgas
Poison Pens from Camille Guthrie, Greg Jackson, and Deb Olin Unferth
Books Lost & Found from Jamie Fisher, Michael N. McGregor, Kent Russell, Rebecca Renner, and Angela Palm
Poison Stories, an illustrated collaboration by Leela Corman and Lauren Groff
And a Last Word from Mira Jacob
When Tin House arrives in my mailbox I always get excited and spend at least an evening casually flipping through its pages, reading a little here and there, and bookmarking the longer works I hope to read before the next issue arrives. Nowadays, thanks to the digital publication of each issue, I add it to my Caliber/Marvin database and can then read it gradually whenever I get a few moments to muse over a poem or a short story. My biggest problem with Tin House now is whether I keep filing my shelves with the friendly and colorful printed issues or save space by just keeping the digital issues on my Calibre database