When I posted the CS Monitor "best of" list the other day, I mentioned how it seemed that this year there weren't many young, exciting writers grabbing headlines from the established old guard. Dan Wickett, proprietor of The Emerging Writers Network left a comment recommending several young writers who deserve to be on some of these "best of" lists. He also sent me an email with even more titles. They seem like a good bunch of books to explore, so I thought I'd reprint them here:Dog on the Cross by Aaron Gwyn - excellent short story collection from Algonquin. He's currently finishing up debut novel about a tattoo removal artist.Another Perfect Catastrophe - Brad Barkley - another excellent short story collection, his second to go with two novels.The Book of Ralph (excerpt) - John McNally - a very good novel. When Mitch Albom was choosing a book for The Today Show book club, he announced this was a close second (He chose Andrew Sean Greer's novel).Under Cottonwoods (excerpt) by Stephen Grace - an excellent debut novel put out by Lyons Press.Poe & Fanny (FAQs) by John May - another Algonquin effort - May's debut about the year that Poe wrote "The Raven." Excellent.D.B. (excerpt) by Elwood Reid - his third novel, but he's still under 40 years old.Prisoners of War (excerpt) by Steve Yarbrough. An author who should be considered one of the old guard - he writes rings around most of them. His other two novels and three short story collections were excellent but this was really top notch.Plain Heathen Mischief (excerpt) by Martin Clark. This southern judge pens his second exciting literary thriller of sorts.American Desert by Percival Everett. With only his 15th novel (to go with two short story collections and the other novel he co-wrote and published this year and a children's storybook) Everett finally seems to be garnering both critical notice, and getting more than one copy of his latest book to be carried by the Detroit area Borders and Barnes and Nobles.Welcome to the Fallen Paradise by Dayne Sherman. Published towards the end of the year by MacAdam/Cage. His debut - reminiscent of the novels of Tom Franklin or William Gay.About Grace (excerpt) by Anthony Doerr. The debut novel by the author of The Shell Collector, which won about every literary award it was up for two years ago and is still spawning O'Henry Award winners.The Green Age Of Asher Witherow by M. Allen Cunningham. This 26 year old's debut began its life as the number one choice of Booksense 76. Not bad. It was deserved.Animal Crackers (excerpt) by Hannah Tinti - This short story collection by the editor of One Story won well deserved rave reviews in many, many papers. She's also sold her debut novel to be published some time in the next year or so.Non-Fiction:Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn. The advance news on this was so high that they ran out of galleys. It's received nothing but rave reviews since. As well as Flynn writes poetry, this memoir might just top it.
Bonny Wolf is the author of Talking with My Mouth Full: Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes and Other Kitchen Stories (St Martins, 2006), the host of Kitchen Window, NPR's food podcast; a commentator for NPR's Weekend Edition; and a food columnist for The Washington Post. More information is available at www.bonnywolf.com.Julia Child and Judith Jones both went to Paris for the first time in 1948, beginning a journey that changed their lives and the way Americans cook."It's quite possible that we passed Judith and Evan (her husband) on the street, or that we stood next to each other at a cocktail party, for we were leading parallel lives," Child writes in her memoir My Life in France. "But we never met in Paris."They didn't learn of each other until the summer of 1959 when a huge manuscript on French cooking by Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle landed on Jones' desk at Knopf where she was an editor."I was bouleversee, as the French say - knocked out," Jones writes in her memoir The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food. "This was the book I'd been searching for."My Life in France was published in 2006, two years after Child's death at age 91. Her grandnephew, Alex Prud'homme, put together the story of her formative time in France from conversations with her, letters, notes and photographs, many taken by her husband Paul.The two memoirs make a lovely couple. Together, a clear picture emerges of the somewhat appalling food scene in the U.S. after World War II and how much these two women - after a few years in Paris - effected change.Their voices are different: Jones is reserved and private while Child is exuberant and forthright. Their stories, however, are similar. Both grew up in homes with hired cooks and were educated at eastern women's colleges (Smith for Child, Bennington for Jones). Both married older men who they considered soulmates and neither couple had children. Both women fell in love with France and its food, and both believed home cooking could be excellent.Jones went on to bring out books by many important food writers including Claudia Roden, Marcella Hazan, Edna Lewis and Marion Cunningham. She was also the editor of literary figures such as John Updike and Anne Tyler.Her publishing career began when she pulled from the reject pile Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. All of this is part of the story told in The Tenth Muse. (The 19th-century French gourmet Brillat-Savarin called food the 10th muse.)Julia Child, of course, went on to become Julia Child. My Life in France is a wonderful window through which to look at how she went from, in her words, "a six-foot-two-inch ... rather loud and unserious Californian" to the meticulous cook who taught Americans how to cook like the French.More from A Year in Reading 2007
I gurgled and frothed with sheer animal pleasure all the way through My Lunches with Orson (Metropolitan Books), a transcript of taped conversations between Orson Welles and his friend Henry Jaglom, made over elaborate lunches, in Los Angeles, in the early 1980s, and in which the great director gossiped with magnificent bitchiness about the stars he had known, and wedded, and bedded, and elaborated on the fineries of his craft, and gave masterclasses in story and structure, and talked about poodles, sauces, politics, and poems, and much else besides, and in fact gave the final, incontrovertible evidence that his was one of the greatest creative minds of the 20th century. And also one of the funniest. A lesser-known fact: Orson made his breakthrough in Ireland, as a handsome corn-fed teen, in the early 1930s, when he acted for the legendary Michael Mac Liammoir’s company at the Gate Theatre in Dublin, and he confesses in this book that he went on to nourish a life-long hatred of the Irish people, most especially Irish-Americans. Choice anecdote: one day, during a break in rehearsals, Orson asked Michael to give the defining characteristic, in a single word, without thinking too hard about it, of the Irish race, and Michael immediately responded with “malice.” I defy anyone not to read this wonderful book in a sitting. Speaking of Ireland, the novel Notes from a Coma by Mike McCormack has stealthily been developing a cult reputation there since its initial publication in 2005, and this year it finally got an American release through the good offices of Soho Press. This is the near-future story of JJ O’Malley, a kid adopted from a Romanian orphanage who grows up in the west of Ireland and there submits to trials on an experimental prison ship in Killary harbor, aboard which the inmates are induced into coma states to cut down on costs. McCormack is the bastard love-child of John McGahern and JG Ballard, and this is a brilliant book. More from A Year in Reading 2013 Don't miss: A Year in Reading 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 The good stuff: The Millions' Notable articles The motherlode: The Millions' Books and Reviews Like what you see? Learn about 5 insanely easy ways to Support The Millions, and follow The Millions on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr.
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