“Year-end lists are always subjective and incomplete, but they are especially tricky for books. A dedicated film critic can watch every wide release film and a theater critic can go to most every play, but the book critic is faced with an insurmountable mountain of books each year. The sheer number of books is inspiring as a reader, but it can make “best of” lists laughably subjective when the critic has only read a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of books published each year.” This might help to explain the logic and intent of our own Year in Reading series, but it also prefaces Electric Literature‘s list of the top 25 story collections of 2014 (which includes recent Year in Reading alum Phil Klay‘s Redeployment).
Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh is a downright mesmerizing elegy to the eclectic singer-songwriter. Part idiot-savant, part deliberate curmudgeon , Vic Chesnutt (who Rolling Stone has called one of the greatest songwriters of all time) was notoriously difficult to spend a lot of time around. Hersh stopped by Electric Literature for an interview about the book and about losing her dear friend Vic. Bonus: for anyone unfamiliar with Chesnutt’s work, this video will get you close.
Get your Bloomsday fix with our James Joyce quiz. Or you can celebrate with Emily M. Keeler, The Atlantic, a BBC dramatization, and Colm Tóibín. You can also read an excerpt from Ulysses over at Berfrois. Plus there’s a ‘Ulysses Seen‘ smartphone app (which is viewable online).
Reif Larsen’s “The Crying of Page 45” appears in this month’s issue of The Believer. This clever, inventive essay is excerpted from the book I co-edited The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books. You can get a taste of the piece at The Believer website, but the full essay in all its illustrated glory is available in the print magazine as well as in, of course, the book.
in the film version of Fahrenheit 451. In the New York Times this week the director Ramin Bahrani talks about his love of books, how he decided which books to turn in the film and why he wanted to bring this novel to the small screen in the first place. It will air on HBO next Saturday (May 19th).