“Our catalogues cost £5,000 to print and distribute (in envelopes! with stamps!) to the 800 people on my mailing list, 790 of whom will not order from it.” Rick Gekoski at Guardian looks at the peculiar art (and commerce) of rare books catalogues.
"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).
Leveling the kind of accusation that perhaps only such an esteemed writer can, Jonathan Franzen intimates that David Foster Wallace's nonfiction (such as "Shipping Out") wasn't exactly honest.
In a New York Times op-ed piece on violence in children's literature, Maria Tatar claims that "the savagery we offer children today is more unforgiving than it once was." Is that really the case? Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark And Grimm (reviewed by the Times last November), which underscores the violence inherent in Grimm's tales, can be read as a counterpoint.
There's been an incredible amount of both excitement and controversy ever since Harper Lee's publisher announced the upcoming publication of Go Set a Watchman, the reclusive author's second novel. But in a piece for Ploughshares Cathe Shubert wonders "Why not marvel at what all this hullabaloo in the news really signifies: that books still matter, deeply, to the American public–especially books that spark dialogue about interracial relations, justice, and, as Atticus would say, walking in another person’s shoes."
Amidst increasing calls to “memorialize slavery’s ties with Glasgow in a more sensitive way,” Scottish poet Kate Tough recently published a tribute poem, “People Made Glasgow.” Tough calls on the city to install a permanent slavery exhibit, a memorial garden, or new street names as well.
At the Fiction Writers Review, Robin Black sits down with contributor and Year in Reading alumna Nichole Bernier. The two discuss, among other things, Bernier’s new novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D., as well as novels in which lengthy sections feature characters reading journal entries. (Bernier calls them “funhouse mirrors.”)