Year in Reading contributor Kevin Smokler’s new essay collection, Practical Classics, explores the benefits of revisiting the first books you read (even if you hated them). In fact, the difficult and excruciating books have a particular value. “Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends,” says Smokler in a new Rumpus interview. “Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.”
Veterans of writing workshops will know that a good story has a heavy dose of conflict. One can add it to a story in many ways, but one of the best and most reliable is to add a predator, either in the form of a threatening organisation or an animal or person with malicious intent. At the Ploughshares blog, Year in Reading alum Megan Mayhew Bergman reflects on predatory literature.