by Colleen McClintock
Tin House Books saw yet another rave review of Matthew Specktor’s novel American Dream Machine appear in the print copy of the New York Times’ June 2nd Sunday Book Review. The same review was published early on the New York Times website, the previous Friday.
In laymen’s terms, the exposure that both Tin House and Specktor received within one single weekend was downright impressive. The review was featured on the eleventh page of the Book Review section, and took up the entire space of the page; a feat not easily achieved in the Times. It was written by Christine Sneed, a well-established author, herself. It is perhaps because of this that Sneed was able to tap into the sentimentality of Specktor’s novel in her review, calling its dismal tone “elegaic” and deeming it as a “hip bildungsroman” narrated by the protagonist, Nate, in the fashion of a “fever dream.”
|A photo of Matthew Specktor featured in the Times' review|
of American Dream Machine, June 2.
This is arguably the biggest of praises that Tin House has seen this year via American Dream Machine, but it is definitely not the first, as the Times – and others – have featured smaller-scale reviews of the book since its April release.
But it is not just novels like American Dream Machine that give Tin House its chutzpah; titles are only part of it. There are factors like last year’s VIDA count that also come into play.
The VIDA count is an annual survey taken by the feminist literary group, VIDA, to see where the most gender equality lies in the world of publishing. In 2012 Tin House stood out among the lot as one of the most progressive in terms of gender balance, along with fellow Benay client, Granta Magazine.
Tin House also reinforces itself as a living, breathing institution through the yearly workshops they hold for up-and-coming writers. They are residential programs run by the very same editors of Tin House Books and of their sister lit mag, Tin House Magazine. The workshops are entered strictly through application and acceptance, but hold little pretense elsewhere and promise much growth for those who enroll. It is Tin House’s way of aiding new writers in reaching the successes that authors like Specktor have reached. In this, they ensure the survival and perseverance of a literary tradition based on craft, style, and most importantly, passion.