“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).
Over at the Slate Book Review, Laura Miller gives Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series a fair shake. From Jesus to Reagan, O’Reilly and his cowriter Martin Dugard have killed off five famous historical “Great Men.” Despite claims of some dubious assertions having been made throughout the series, the books themselves have enjoyed tremendous commercial success.
“My parents really don’t like that book. It embarrassed and saddened them and they didn’t understand why I would air my dirty laundry in public. They’ve had some time to sit with it and now they’re more supportive of what I do as a memoirist. I think they see the value of telling your story now. It’s still a tender subject and I wouldn’t say that they exactly love the book now, but at least it’s an open dialogue.” Jillian Lauren speaks on the cost of telling one’s truth publicly and her memoir Some Girls: My Life in a Harem. Pair with a piece by our own Michael Bourne on the art and business of memoirs.
Calling all undergrads and grad students! McSweeney’s is holding their first-ever Student Short Story Contest. The grand prize — $500 and publication in their 51st issue — will go to the student who sends in the best story before the last day of August. Get cracking, but don’t go beyond their 7,500-word limit.