Feeling nostalgic for the Pacific Northwest I decided to pick up a copy of Tin House and Glimmer Train from the Union Square Barnes & Noble. Tin House did not disappoint. It’s reputation for publishing only the best writing remains intact.
My favorite piece was “Tales of Darkness and the Unknown Vol. XIV: The White Glove” by Steven Millhauser. Millhauser writes in such a beautiful, eery way that caught me and held me down for all 26 pages. It’s a quiet story at first, with its focus on a boy and his infatuation with a girl and her perfect family. But slowly his perfect relationship turns sour when the girl begins to wear a mysterious white glove she never takes off. A source of much embarrassment for her, she forbids him to see what is underneath.
As I was reading it I was reminded of a children’s horror story I read once when I was a kid. It was a story about a girl with a ribbon around her neck she never took off until the day she died, and her husband finally saw that it was holding her head on. That story really struck me when I was a kid, and this story affected me much the same way. Nothing really happens, and yet everything does at the same time. It’s part coming-of-age, part mystery, part horror story, but all beautiful.
The glove lay motionless. It seemed to be holding its breath. In the darkness made less dark by the blurry bar of light, I could see the two buttons at the wrist. I realized there were three of us in the room: the glove, Emily, and me.
Millhauser won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1997 for his novel Martin Dressler and has put out a few short fiction collections. I have never heard of him until now, and I feel very compelled to buy one his collections.
The other major highlight for me was the poem “Spoiler Alert” by Boomer Pinches. Here are the lines that caught my attention:
Gently I explain that I would like to be intensely remembered
By as many people as possible. This is a life
Lesson and I am some underpaid substitute teacher.
Perhaps it is because I am an existentialist ex-substitute teacher that it caught my eye. People have worse reasons for liking something. Pinches also wrote a story called “Bethlehem is Full” which was published in 2010’s edition of Best New American Voices. I mentioned liking it in a past post, this second piece has made me think I should read more from him.
Now that I have finished this issue of Tin House, it’s time to read the summer issue of Glimmer Train.