Top Picks for the 2015 Tin House Lit Readings

Four authors to catch in Reed College's outdoor amphitheater this month.

June 22, 2015 Published in the July 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day, Stumptown? Thou art more lovely, and more literate, especially with the influx of wondrous writers for the weeklong Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop. If you didn’t make the cut for the Portland-based literary magazine’s application-filtered teaching workshops, you can still catch your favorite literary visitor during evening readings in the amphitheater at Reed College. 

Short fiction 

Not only did Karen Russell’s debut novel, the creepily awesome Swamplandia!, make the shortlist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, but she also has two fine short-story collections under her belt.
Why her? She writes about alligator wrestling and girls raised by wolves. Bad. Ass.  


What more to say about the aching beauty of Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation? The New York Times chose it as one of the 10 best books of last year, while her first novel, Last Things, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Book Award.
Why her? She somehow brings to matters of the heart both rawness and humor, for fresh musings on an ancient trope. 


Confessional, social, and, according to the New York Times, “demonically in touch with the American demotic,” Tony Hoagland is the straight-talking darling of American poetics.
Why him? “Oh life, Can you blame me for making a scene?” says
Hoagland. We can but hope. 


Maggie Nelson defies easy categorization. Her output includes work on art and cruelty, a memoir about the murder of an aunt she never knew, a feminist rediscovery of women poets in the “New York School,” meditations on the color blue, and several books of poetry.
Why her? Uncannily smart, exceptionally focused, she’s got something searing to say on the strangest of subjects. 

The Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop runs July 14–19. Readings kick off nightly at 8 p.m., admission free. Offill reads on July 16, Russell on July 17, and Nelson and Hoagland on July 18.

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