The Omnivore has announced the shortlist for its the Hatchet Job of the Year Award, honoring “the author of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months.” Worthy candidates all, though we note that our review, written by Holloway McCandless, of Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall is perhaps even more trenchant than (and was published over a month before) Adam Mars-Jones’ shortlisted review, which, like ours, found Cunningham’s endless references to the literary canon tiresome.
“Writers teach, not writing per se, but how to engage in writing as a process and a means of perception. The actual work of writing is seldom sublime. It’s a struggle that grows more difficult if we avoid it. Writing is often excruciatingly slow and repetitive. Time, in slipping and sliding, makes itself felt and immediate. Words are the way in, but nothing is guaranteed. What writers or readers can do with language, or understand inside it, depends on what they know—on refining their sensibilities, on writing, revising, waiting, reading, writing, as though living in language were life and death.” Year in Reading alumna Jayne Anne Phillips writes for the Literary Hub about the importance of writing programs. For more on the debate, check out Hannah Gersen’s Millions essay.
Who better to review a new sci-fi book than Ursula Le Guin? The Guardian editors couldn’t think of a better candidate either. She reviewed the new story collection Three Moments of an Explosion by the English writer China Miéville. Sample quote: “Pastiche, when present, is so skilful that it can go unnoticed.” You could also read our own Bill Morris on discovering Miéville’s work.