I never understood why "summer reading" automatically means mindless, time-wasting crap. Is there some unwritten code that when the temperatures crank up, we're obliged to fill our heads with lesbian vampire fiction and celebrity tell-alls? Who exactly is it that's dying to read this stuff? Thankfully, not the people at Tin House, who are busy coordinating a thrilling week of intelligent literary events, including a slew of readings, seminars, and a world-class writing workshop.
Tin House was born seven years ago and operates out of Brooklyn and the corner of NW 26th and Thurman here in Portland. In contrast to so many staid, boring literary journals on the scene, Tin House has differentiated itself with a sharp eye for design and a vigorous blend of emerging and established talent. They traffic in what can best be described as "writer's writers"—authors who know their chops, have paid their dues, never made it to Oprah, but have the unending respect of other authors. They've also recently launched Tin House books, and are preparing an astonishing edition of Gravity's Rainbow with 760(!) illustrations by punk artist/porn star Zak Smith.
The focal point of this week's activities are the actual writing workshops, where registrants hash out their manuscripts with literary heavy hitters.
But aside from the workshop, there are over a dozen seminars open to the public featuring the Tin House all-stars on topics like character motivation, publishing, and rescuing the memoir. In addition, there's a kick-off reading at Powell's this Friday night, July 7, with Aimee Bender, Anthony Swofford, and Jim Shepard, and readings every single night from July 9-15 at Reed College, with incredible names like Charles D'Ambrosio, Michael Ondaatje, and Karen Karbo.
Now that it's a billion degrees outside, you can (a) go see a boring movie about Superman, (b) read countless Da Vinci Code knockoff historical mysteries, or (c) spend a week with some of the most respected authors alive today. The choice is yours. I'll see you at the readings.