Tin House Is Poison

Tin House Volume 20, Number 1: Poison

TH77-Cover-800x1030One 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?

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May My Reading Keep Me Young

download-4.jpgThe year is rapidly running down and soon I will have over 350 reading suggestions that make me panic. Time is running out. Sitting here in my office I scan the double files of books on my built-in bookshelves and realize that I will never read them all. Time is running out. If I stop and think about it, I’m torn between reading as many of the classical novels as I can fit in or concentrating on the more entertaining books that would probably be more fun to read.

So which would you opt for, Henry James or Mickey Spillane, the Venerable Bede or Agatha Christie? Do novels that are older than you, telling stories about a world longago keep you young, relatively, or are new books with modern problems and hip language force you to keep up with a younger group of readers and the topics that are of current interest?

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Ready Reader One

download-3.jpgThe last couple of months I have been trying out various methods of selecting my monthly reading pool with varying success. Along the way I have accumulated a few tempting titles, generally new or recent books, and this month I included several in what might be a fun and enriching group of reading or, perhaps the shiny object titles will leave me disappointed.

What’s a Mars Room? Is a parking lot attendant a hero or an anti-hero? Convenience stores can be quite useful for cigarettes or a half-dozen XLNTs but they can be dangerous too. Is Player One ready? For what?

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The Little Red Mustang

images-1I don’t understand.

For some time now I have been overloaded on my Twitter feed with boring, repetitious encomiums to the recent novel by Jake Tapper, The Hellfire Club. If only for shits and grins, I fully intended to read the novel but if you followed the official and unofficial press you’d be convinced the Tapper’s work was the height of literary accomplishments akin to Tolstoy or Mann.

Tapper has reconstructed the Washington, D. C. scene of the mid-fifties and, as popular novels must therefore do, is full of references to events, sites, and objects that are quintessential 1950s. The right music, the correct fashions, the mixed drinks that would be served, the favored breakfast cereals, and events right out of the newspapers of the day. It provides a nice, easy nostalgic flow the lulls the reader into just the right state for the jarring events suggested as the novel commenced.

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