“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).
“But as anyone with the least knowledge of literature and writing—maybe art in general—will know, concealing what is shameful to you will never lead to anything of value,” Karl Ove Knausgaard said in an interview with Jesse Barron for The Paris Review. They discuss memory, personal crisis, artistic shame, and how he would burn My Struggle if there were less copies. Make sure to check out our review.
Over at Catapult, Morgan Jerkins writes on calling Harlem home. As she puts it, “Blackness is not one specific characteristic. It is many things, things that I have yet to discover. It means that different variations of blackness can find home in one another.”
Before Dr. Seuss penned the Lorax who spoke for the trees, he drew ads for Standard Oil, General Electric, and a host of other large corporations who spoke for a considerably different constituency. This great collection of advertising artwork from Theodore Seuss Geisel courtesy of the Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California, San Diego.
Philip Esler’s new book Sex, Wives, and Warriors: Reading Biblical Narrative with its Ancient Audience, reintroduces our culture to some of the Bible’s most dramatic narratives.