Print out your playing cards and start sifting through the comment sections of negative book reviews. It’s a new game called “bad review bingo.” (inspired in part by the frothy commenters to our own Janet Potter’s blistering review of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.)
Authors, including Jennifer Egan, George Saunders, Ali Smith, and our own Chigozie Obioma, chose their Best Books of 2017 in a two-part series for The Guardian. If you enjoyed that list, make sure to check out our Year in Reading: 2017 series all throughout December.
Jeff Sharlet had a challenge for his creative nonfiction students at Dartmouth College. Sensing that journalism had become too “dull,” too mired in a “culture of professionalism” divided “between reporting and ‘storytelling,’” Sharlet asked his students who didn’t “know [any] better” to create a magazine of their own. The result, 40 Towns, embraces “the right conditions” of literary creation – immersion, journalism, regionalism and “a term of revision” – to present a “collection of documents, artifacts of real life” about the Upper Valley.
And now, a little bit about a world you might be totally unfamiliar with; this piece from The Rumpus is a fascinating, in-depth look at identity politics and eating pork in the Chinese borderlands. Bonus: a complementary piece about what it’s like to be a Chinese-American writer living in china.
In the latest entry in By Heart, the Atlantic series we’ve written about a few times, Ben Marcus (who recently came out with a new book) reflects on the true meaning of the word “Kafkaesque.” Marcus interprets Kafka’s “A Message from the Emperor” as a parable about the difficulty of real human connection. (Related: there’s now a Kafka video game.)