“I might even argue … that the ideal book is one that we never open, since an unopened book contains our dreams, whereas an open book contains someone else’s.”—Bookseller Stephen Sparks on one of his favorite books, which he’s never actually read.
“Poetry is everywhere.It exists in the most sacred and most profane corners of our lives, from the illuminated spiritual texts that have created our planet’s moral codes to corny couplets tucked neatly into Hallmark cards. Poetry is read aloud at weddings and funerals, at christenings and wakes, under the covers and over bottles of wine. All of us, whether we know it or not, speak in poetry. We use metaphors and similes and images to explain our lives to others. Poetry is the humanizing and empathetic body of our language. In some countries whole soccer stadiums fill with citizens to hear a single poet and in some a small gathering of twenty people will sit in a café to hear a human voice sing. For all our differences, poetry is a constant art form that connects our different languages. It’s a seer and a healer, an instigator and a diplomat.”—Matthew Dickman, Tin House’s Free Verse
“Your telephone, your kitchen, your driveway, all these things that had a notion of you now change their gaze and watch you from a different place––no, two places. Everything now happens from two places. You brush your teeth in the second person and in the third person. You stand at the window in the second person and in the third person, watching the driveway, waiting perhaps for your child, who is late from school. You sweat from those places.”—
“We Point the Bone: An Essay on Thrēat” by Anne Carson, from Tin House’s Summer Reading issue.
Recommended, recommended. Returning to Anne Carson is always like a sharp, quick breath of winter air.
Longreads Guest Pick: Emily Schultz on Roxane Gay and Tin House
“In writing about Benjamin Percy’s werewolf novel, Red Moon, Roxane Gay’s review transforms into a fascinating essay with bite. She sums up the challenge authors face when examining the militarization of everyday life since 2001: ‘It’s a tricky thing to address pressing issues of the day in fiction without making prose do the work of preaching.’ Artistic success has eluded great authors who took the subject head on and Gay suggests that allegory is the platform that can let the author speak loudest. When I started writing my novel The Blondes I didn’t know that is was about these same subjects but by the time it was finished the world had crept in.
“Since writing a novel about a worldwide calamity and how its narrative unspools through the media, I’ve been haunted by its resonances with real events, but tragedy and unspeakable crime have always been documented. Today, we crowd source reflexively filmed camera footage to solve cases, but in the aftermath of the Second World War a Hollywood contingent hunted down and sifted through the propagandists’ own footage to build evidence against the Nazis for the Nuremberg trials. Budd Schulberg was a morally complicated screenwriter and author of the classic Hollywood novel What Makes Sammy Run? In ‘Budd and Leni’ Bruce Handy tells the story of how Schulberg arrested director Leni Riefenstahl. The story is complex, the material is harrowing, and the facts sometimes blur into strange humor, such as the Communist guard who is also a film critic.”
What are you reading (and loving)? Tell us.
We Hate Hipsters, but Why?
Has anyone articulated what is so wrong with carrying canvas bags, eating organic, doing yoga, and trying to limit environmental damage? And do we have to be embarrassed if we take pleasure in a pluralistic and creative place?
It’s something we should all probably consider a little more deeply.
“As difficult as it is to get a reader to suspend disbelief, it’s even harder to keep his or her disbelief lofted over the course of a story or novel as it progresses. In the same way that you can break a reader’s heart by playing fast and loose with the rules of your Oz, you can also fail a reader by getting sloppy on the Kansas details.”—Karen Russell on creating “A world with pleasures and dangers that mirror our own, ‘so real that it is fantastic.’” at Engineering Impossible Architectures | Tin House
Longreads Member Pick: House Heart, by Amelia Gray
This week’s Member Pick is “House Heart,” a short story by Amelia Gray, the author of the novel Threats and short story collections Museum of the Weird and AM/PM. “House Heart” was published in the December 2012 issue of Tin House—here’s more from Tin House assistant editor Emma Komlos-Hrobsky:
In Amelia Gray’s ‘House Heart,’ a couple entraps a young woman in their ventilation system in a game equal parts erotic and perverse. ‘We all had our individual function,’ says Gray’s narrator, ‘and hers was to be the life of the house.’ Gray’s own writing does similar eerie work in animating uncomfortable, secret, interior spaces. Something strange and dark and distinctly human moves just beneath the cool deadpan of her authorial voice. I love this story for its wryness and subtlety, but most especially for its willingness to take me where I don’t want to go.
Support Longreads—and get more stories like this—by becoming a member for just $3 per month.
Illustration by Kjell Reigstad