We are only a few days away from our annual 2010 Year in Reading series! Over the past couple of months, we’ve asked dozens of readers, writers, and thinkers to tell us about the best book they read all year. On December 1st, we’ll begin posting pieces from some of the biggest names in literature and publishing. Look for more announcements on the site and twitter over the next few weeks. While you wait, check out last year’s Year in Reading series to get in the spirit!
Jonathan Franzen’s 2011 Kenyon commencement speech, published this weekend in the New York Times, covers love, consumerism, and narcissism in the digital age. If you’re concerned with critical reception, looks like you’re not a creator of “serious art and literature,” in Franzen’s eyes.
“Now, I’m not going to lie. It’s annoying, to have to take time out of my incredibly busy writing schedule in order to spell it all out for young people, just because they spend most of their daylight hours being urged by hoary old theorists in threadbare sweaters to write experimental fiction that will never sell. But I care deeply about the young—all of them, the world’s young—so of course I am humbled and honored to share the trade secrets embedded in my rigorous daily work schedule.” Heather Havrilesky on her writing life.
Recommended Reading: “The Misanthropic Genius of Joy Williams” in The New York Times Magazine. Her latest collection of short stories, The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories, which was included on our most anticipated list, will be released on September 8th. “When I asked Williams what she wants out of a great story, she replied, ‘I want to be devastated in some way.’”
James Hynes discusses the books he read when writing his latest novel, Next: “I wanted to see if I could write a day-in-the-life novel, a narrative that would be set in a single day, or part of one, and by working backwards and forwards through flashbacks, encompass the entire life of a single character.”