Title: Tin House, Vol. 14, #1: Fall 2012
Theme: Portland Brooklyn
Featured Names: Vanessa Veselka, Adam Wilson, Ursula Le Guin, Ben Lerner, Charles D’Ambrosio, Hannah Tinti, Jon Raymond, Evan Hughes.
Why: This issue finally made me understand what editors mean when they say things like “theme” and “style.” You’ll notice the cadence after awhile, even in writers I thought of as different. But Veselka’s “Just Before Elena” and Wilson’s “December Boys Got It Bad” work so well together, and combine for a brilliant 1-2 punch, with a sly jab of a story from CJ Hauser. Funny that the authors operate on different sides of the country which makes me think a) God is at work b) Tin House has a great editor c) Both. There is a piece on gentrification, this is the Portland/Brooklyn issue. Even though Evan Hughes’ piece “Consider The Gentrifier” has that DFW-edge (and name), he does get at some salient points.
And don’t ignore: Cheston Knapp’s piece on an underground wrestling league in Portland. I was hesitant to read this at first. I considered another literary excavation like this one just gratuitous subculture exploitation, something that young writers can never stop doing. But Knapp gives the piece a personal (and at first, unrelated) twist to the piece, one I didn’t think would relate at all, until he closes it solidly. This isn’t just another coming-soon-alt-weekly piece, but a real meditation on pain, fame, and experience.