“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).
Joel Lovell profiles George Saunders for The New York Times, and he gives a killer endorsement for Saunders’s latest book, Tenth of December. The author’s collection from thirteen years ago, Pastoralia, was picked on our site as being among the “Best of the Millennium.”
If you missed Apple’s “Education Announcement” last Thursday, you can check out Peter Kafka’s play-by-play coverage of the event for AllThingsD. The whole affair made quite a splash because the biggest publishers in the world today are education publishers. The star of the show was iBooks 2, and it has many people talking: some view it as education publishing’s savior, some fear it, and others think its EULA is downright creepy. At least one person believes the whole idea might’ve been the brain child of a lowly intern. And, finally, what should we make of Steve Jobs’ 1996 admission that “what’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology?”
“When the French would go to serve, they often said, Tenez!, the French word for ‘take it,’ meaning ‘coming at you, heads up.’ We preserve this custom of warning the opponent in our less lyrical way by stating the score just before we toss up the ball. It was the Italians who, having overheard the French make these sounds, began calling the game ‘ten-ez’ by association. A lovely detail in that it suggests a scene, a Florentine ear at the fence or entryway, listening.” Whether it’s David Foster Wallace or John Jeremiah Sullivan writing about tennis, I’m reading it. Another three-namer, Jonathan Russell Clark, reviewed The David Foster Wallace Reader for The Millions.
Now that Louise Erdrich has won the National Book Award, it’s worth looking back on her interviews from recent years. You can read her piece in the Art of Fiction series, published in 2010 in The Paris Review; you could try her interview with the Times from back in October; or else you could take a look at her sit-down with The New Yorker in April. (This probably goes without saying, but you could also just read her new novel.)