In the Chicago Tribune, Julia Keller explains why all the year-end lists are a tiresome exercise: “What annoys and disappoints me, though, is the chilly retrospective nature of such lists. They drain all of the blood from the critic’s job. They require a cold, methodical calculation of passions long past. They’re about yesterday’s yearning. Compiling them is a bit like trying to remember why you used to be in love with so-and-so.” (Thanks, Laurie)
At Page-Turner, Willing Davidson interviews Karen Russell, the newly minted MacArthur Genius, Swamplandia! author and 20 Under 40 alum. The conclusion this writer came to after reading their back-and-forth? The phrases “luck lightning” and “King Doomsday” need to be used more often. (FYI, we published our own interview with Russell back in February.)
"Post-truth" has been named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries, reports The Guardian. Considered an adjective, its definition is “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The Dictionaries report its first use in 1992 by the late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich in relation to Iran-Contra and the first Gulf War. And we thought Colbert's "truthiness" was funny.
We've already decided that it's okay for fictional characters to be unlikable, but what about nonfiction writers? At the VQR blog, Jennifer Niesslein interviews essayists on whether their success is based on how amiable they are. "I think it’s ridiculous to expect to like someone who wrote a book you love, but the increasing visibility of writers on social media—who are expected to be the ambassadors of their books—amps up the pressure to be well-liked," Cheryl Strayed said.
I'm feeling surprisingly broken up about this: Reading Rainbow comes to the end of its 26-year run on Friday.