Tin House has quickly become one of the country’s most noticed literary magazines—and herewith some of its contributors.
Colorful, lively, loud, and often sexy stories rule the day: Mary Gaitskill’s offering—from which the collection draws its title—describes the shock of a sudden pregnancy as a woman is surprised to find herself on a hormonal odyssey through pop culture and Cartesian thought in search of some form of truth and desire. A woman is willed a man’s skull in Chris Offutt’s “Inside Out,” a pretense for the character to explore the trade of the dead with a mortician, an encounter bound to turn intimate as “Death produces an irrational need for tidiness and a surprising amount of spontaneous sex.” Stuart Dybek explores the relationship between narrative and physical intimacy in a short-short, “Fiction;” Lisa Zeidner writes of a man (“Chosen People”) who picks up women at the Holocaust museum by focusing on architecture instead of atrocity; Amy Hempel contributes another memorable short piece, “Beach Town,” about a woman who finds a voyeuristic thrill in what she can see of her neighbors through the privet; and what starts as a fascination with a woman’s earlobe in Yasunari Kawabata’s “Her Husband Didn’t” grows through the course of an affair to a poignant lesson on the subtle trapdoors of love. Fred Leebron’s odd second-person-plural account of lives adjacent to celebrity (“We Are Not Friends”) comes straight out of a Nicole Kidman headline. Other notable contributors include Tom Barbash, David Foster Wallace, Ron Carlson, and Dorothy Allison. Tin House has certainly made a name for itself by sticking to the basic tenet that you-know-what sells, one result being that some will find the variety of these stories not so varied. But there are plenty of strategies to choose from even if the subject stays the same, and not a few strong authors make an appearance.
Sexy and worthwhile.