Last month, in a review for The Millions, Chris Barsanti called George Packer’s The Unwinding an “awe-inspiring X-Ray of the modern American soul.” Now, in The Guardian, Sukhdev Sandhu calls the book “decent, meticulous and concerned,” though it could have benefited from the “roiling prose-fire of Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi.”
Interested in reading some of the indie and small press books coming out in 2014, but don’t know where to start? Michael Seidlinger put together a great Cheat Sheet of titles to get excited about this year. Think of it as a complement to our Great 2014 Book Preview.
To celebrate their thirteen-month anniversary, Open Letter Books is having a sale. Buy any two books from their catalog for $22, and you are also entered to win a free subscription for a full year of their titles. Don’t know where to start? Their books include Vilnius Poker, touted as the preeminent Lithuanian novel of the past twenty years, as well as Dubravka Ugresic’s formidable collection of essays, Nobody’s Home.
With a huge winter storm bearing down on the East Coast, the Hopkinton library in Massachusetts did the only sensible thing: they erected a sign extolling the virtues of curling up with a book. What makes theirs unique is that, unlike many of their peers, they found a way to avoid the “warm yourself up” cliché. (Previously spotted on Reddit: “What are some good books to read [in jail?]”)
“All war literature, across the centuries, bears witness to certain eternal truths: the death and chaos encountered, minute by minute; the bonds of love and loyalty among soldiers; the bad dreams and worse anxieties that afflict many of those lucky enough to return home.” In an omnibus review for The New York Times Michiko Kakutani looks at the fiction and journalism being written about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including recent Year in Reading alum and National Book Award winner Phil Klay‘s Redeployment and Dexter Filkins’s The Forever War, “the one book that most fluently and kaleidoscopically captures both the micro and the macro of Iraq.” She also wonders, and attempts to explain, “why has there been no big, symphonic Iraq or Afghanistan novel?”
Led by Millions Top Tenner The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, dystopia is unseating vampires as the dominant theme in teen fiction, according to The Independent. The paper lists several other examples of the hot new trend, including Plague by Michael Grant and Matched by Ally Condie. (We’d argue that with dystopian classics like 1984 and Lord of the Flies on teen reading lists for decades, this is an old trend that’s new again.)
A couple weeks ago, Brian Ted Jones reviewed The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, which “takes place on the margins of a grand, cosmic struggle.” Not long afterwards, at The Rumpus, Woody Brown offered a somewhat negative take on the book, arguing that Mitchell makes it too difficult for the reader to suspend her disbelief. You could also read Brown’s Millions review of Haruki Murakami’s new novel.
“Once certain hurdles are cleared (a bit of talent, years of work), being a writer is like flying a kite in a storm in a field full of people flying kites in a storm.” Garth Greenwell on writing his first novel, the importance of failure, and giving oneself privacy to make mistakes. Pair with Meredith Turits’s Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.