Review: Portland/Brooklyn

Tin House Issue #53, Portland/Brooklyn Fall 2012

What initially attracted me to this issue of Tin House was the theme: two culturally influential, bicoastal cities, Portland/Brooklyn. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t half-expecting the quirky humor of Portlandia to grace the pages. Contrary to my preconceived notions, the essays, stories and poems investigate the darkness of the two cities, highlighting the similarities and differences between them with a tone that is both celebratory and sardonic.

My favorite pieces included Evan Hughes‘ “Consider the Gentrifier,” Adam Wilson‘s “December Boys Got it Bad,” and Cheston Knapp’s “Faces of Pain,” a seemingly lighthearted, entertaining essay about the wrestling movement in and around Portland. I say “seemingly lighthearted” because Knapp’s essay is ultimately gripping and weighty. He weaves in personal, existential reflections, like admitting he was surprised to find himself caring about turning thirty.

“All the things of promise in my life had become some version of what they’d promised to become, and something about how these possibilities had resolved into reality made me feel as though I were living my life in translation, or as though someone else were living it, really.”

This issue of Tin House didn’t meet my expectations. It exceeded them.


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