“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).
The Cambridge University Press just published The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. 2. (Vol. 1 can be found here.) That alone is worth your time, but as an added bonus the Press’ blog has compiled a partial syllabus for the author — a sampling of the titles “on the writer’s nightstand … from 1941 to 1956.”
“In eleven years, I’ve written four books: three novels and one story collection. Only the story collection has ever seen the light of day; the first two novels, including my thesis, were never published and the third novel is making the rounds with agents right now. I’d like to believe I’ve learned a few things about how fiction works over this time, but perhaps it is more accurate to write that I have learned how my fiction does – or in many cases, does not – work.” Michael Nye, who’s written for us before, shares his “Lessons in Failure and Writing a Novel” on the Missouri Review blog.
“Claiming that feminism killed home cooking is not just shaming, it’s wildly inaccurate from a historical standpoint…As should be obvious to anyone who’s peeked at a cookbook from the late 1940s or early 1950s that promotes ingredients like sliced hot dogs and canned tomato soup, we’ve been eating processed crap since long before feminism. Yet the idea of the feminist abandoning her children to TV dinners while she rushes off to a consciousness-raising group is unshakable.” The perils of foodie nostalgia.