The Editor's Lowdown: A Talk with Rob Spillman
Rob Spillman and his 'Tin House' team have been recognized with awards that would make any publication jealous, but they're after something far less tangible and much more important.
The “go big or go home” ethos isn’t usually applied to literary magazines, but it rightly captures the outlook Rob Spillman had when he co-founded Tin House in 1998. From the very first issue, Spillman pursued top authors and asked them to write about their passions. His ambition paid off. In the last 14 years, Tin House literary magazine has helped launch a book imprint, a literary festival, and the careers of many esteemed writers; it has been honored in numerous anthologies including Best American Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, O’Henry Prize Stories, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology.
But ask Spillman, and all these accolades seem secondary to the thriving literary community that his magazine anchors. Earlier this month, I met up with Spillman at a pie shop in Gowanus beneath Tin House’s East coast office. Reason tells me that editors aren’t mystical creatures sitting on high, but my writer’s imagination tends to transform these arbite…