The End

220px-Tin_House.jpgI have an interesting track record with literary publications … they keep disappearing, often just after I renew my subscription. Unfortunately, in this case it is one of my very favorites.  Tin House has accompanied me through many years of excellent reading.

I will miss it.

Dear Tin House Reader,

Tin House’s 20th Anniversary Issue, to be published in June 2019, will be the publication’s last. I’m grateful to Rob Spillman, Elissa Schappell, and Holly MacArthur, and the entire magazine staff, current and past, for their part in creating a vital, versatile outlet, and hosting important literary and cultural conversations over the past twenty years. It has been a remarkable run.

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Winter Reading

VOLUME 20, Number 2: Winter Reading

d51a43c9-f505-44d6-8d52-26baee6a8294.jpgOf that “season in hell” I very well remember the twenty days that I was interned in the military mental hospital. The reason? One morning in the barracks at a very early hour, in less than ten minutes I very methodically drank a bottle of cognac, smoked hashish and kef, and took five amphetamines. Two hours later during the military drills, under the influence of that ferocious mixture, I shot my gun at the clouds. They asked what had gotten into me and I explained that I was crazy.

—ENRIQUE VILA-MATAS, “The Literature of No”

Hunter S. Thompson said “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” To us this means, when the world is at its most chaotic, problematic, and inscrutable, that is when the outcasts, misfits, and true artists are able to make sense of the senseless, or at least transmogrify the disorder into their own order. Emotional turmoil—even pain—promises renewal, renaissance, new journeys, new projects, fresh ideas. In this Winter Reading, we celebrate our weird heroes, upheaval, and the surfacing that must precede art. After all, if anyone can find meaning in entropy and turn to freeze into a flower, she’s an artist.

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As Another Year Fades Away

download-1.jpgWell I’m walking well but my eyesight sucks. Thank goodness for electronic manipulation of the text (bigger and more distinct) otherwise I’d be back to the curved page of an actual book and the further distorted view through even the best magnifying device held in my shaking hand.

This last month of the year I have a rather diverse pool of proposed reading. I started with the Oasis trilogy which I finally got the order of the books right and just to keep up with the idea of a trilogy opted for the three collected short novels of Gina Berriault. I almost went back to three novels by Kurt Vonnegut but instead filled in the list with a scattering of previously suggested novels or books I have been wanting to read for some time.

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Lesser Known Classics

An interesting article appeared in The Guardian promoting some lesser known classics published by Penguin Classics. I admit to having read only one of the selections but I do have a couple of the titles hanging around my bookshelves. Which titles do you consider adding to your reading list in the next few weeks?

download-1.jpgYou might ask whether a book can justify the term “classic” if it only has a handful of readers. I believe it can. There are three essential criteria for defining a classic: it must have endured a number of years; it must have intrinsic literary quality; but, most crucially, it must still be alive, to be able to connect with readers, thrilling them with flashes of recognition and revelation. This is the brilliant paradox at the heart of a classic: it may have been written centuries ago, but its kernel of truth still feels startlingly contemporary. So it doesn’t matter how many people admire a classic; the important thing is what it can do to you. There’s even a particular pleasure when you make a literary connection and you know you’re among a limited number of initiates. “Few people love the writings of Sir Thomas Browne,” wrote Virginia Woolf, for example, about the esoteric 17th-century essayist, “but those that do are the salt of the earth.” So I recommend striking out and investigating those more shadowy shelves. What follows is a personal selection of some less well-known classics. I hope you enjoy these and that they lead you to other lesser known passages in the marvelous library of world literature.

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