“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).
Don’t miss Jon Cotner‘s “Poem Forest” at the NY Botanical Gardens Nov 4-5 and Nov 11-12, 12-4:30. It’s a self-guided tour that promises “a new kind of poetry experience, as well as a new kind of walking experience. Poet-walker Jon Cotner has fused lines selected from 2500 years of nature poetry with Thain Forest’s autumnal landscape.” Details at the Poetry Society of America.
“When author Kamila Shamsie challenged the book industry to publish only women in 2018 to help address a gender imbalance in literature, just one publisher took up the challenge.” And Other Stories, an English publisher who publish translations and English language books, has decided to only publish women writers in 2018, according to the BBC. Pair with: an essay by our own Marie Myung-Ok Lee about the visibility and privacy of women writers.
From The Rumpus, a new short (short) story by George Saunders, excerpted from Life is Short – Art is Shorter: In Praise of Brevity, with an introduction by David Shields and Elizabeth Cooperman.
“The internet has altered our lives in ways television never did or could, but mainstream literary novelists – by which I mean writers who specialize in realistic, character-based narratives – have mostly shied away from writing about this, perhaps hoping that, like TV, it could be safely ignored.” Laura Miller examines how contemporary novels are coming to terms with the internet.
What was the very first ebook? It’s hard to say with any degree of precision, but a pretty good candidate is Peter James’s Host, which was copied and stored on a floppy disk back in 1993. At The Guardian, a look back at the early life of the format. You could also read David Rothman’s tribute to the ebook pioneer Michael Hart. (h/t The Paris Review)