The tenth anniversary edition of the Tin House Lit Mag holds an impressive array of authors and some stellar work. Here are the high points for me:
“Donkey, Greedy Donkey Gets Punched,” by Steve Almond. About an unlikeable psychoanalyst with a gambling problem. Actually everyone in the story is unlikeable, which is one of the most likeable things about it. Almond’s witty, acerbic personality gleams here. A funny story with an O’Henry twist, except it seems less like O’Henry the more I think about it.
“The River Nemunas,” by Anthony Doerr. A fifteen-year-old American girl with Lithuanian roots becomes orphaned and is sent to live with her grandfather in Lithuania, where she comes of age via sturgeon and teaches those around her a thing or two as well. Deep and poignant.
“”Jason Who Will be Famous,” by Dorothy Allison. A young man walks down a dusty road dreaming of being taken seriously. Inimitable Dorothy. Funny with tears.
Honorable mention for
Aimee Bender’s “Americca” about mysterious gift-bearing poltergeists
David Foster Wallace’s “The Planet Trillaphon...” about what it’s like to be clinically depressed and suffer from hallucinations. I didn’t make it through Wallace’s Infinite Jest (Writer Working April 11, 2011) and know he hanged himself in 2008, so it was informative and disturbing to have an insane person who can write describe his experience.
Most of the poems seemed a bit disappointing to me, but there are a couple worth mentioning:
“Backstage Pass,” by D.A. Powell. Traumas of a roadie.
“Hummingbird,” by Sherman Alexi. Best line–Which do you regret more, your birth or your death?
“Nicholas Hughes is Dead,” by Jillian Weise. A bit of a eulogy, I think, though I’m sure I didn’t really get it, but liked it for some reason.
“Barry Hannah,” Interview by Tom Franklin. Notable for me because of having been in Hannah’s workshop in Sewannee. No date on the interview, but it seems to have been sometime after Sewannee–he wasn’t wearing constant oxygen there, just using an inhaler, but he is in this interview. He died last year, so I’m guessing the interview was some time in 2008. He also talks of the fact that the novel he’s been working on is really a collection of short stories and he should have realized it earlier. At Sewannee, he was still talking about the novel. He’s entertaining as always, and I could hear his voice in the answers.