“Sometimes I think I’ve lost my nerve a little bit. I think it’s growing older, and a certain reservoir of anger literally runs out.” The Guardian interviews James Wood, author and book critic at The New Yorker, about his craft, his forthcoming novel Upstate, and the landscape of today’s literary criticism. Pair with: an essay about the greatness (and great influence) of Wood on a fellow novelist.
Test your knowledge of famous settings and / or fantasize about living in a “secluded picturesque manor with history” or a “palatial long island home” perfect for parties: “Classic Houses in Literature Go on the Imaginary Real Estate Market – a Quiz.”
Year in Reading alum Maud Newton has a new short story up on Medium. Titled “Nobody’s Stranger,” the “Miami noir love story” somewhat wonderfully features a bar, “the most incongruous bar in Little Haiti,” in which the patrons are mostly “aging emo kids and British soccer fans and overweight burlesque enthusiasts.”
“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).
Researchers at Comanche Nation College and Texas Tech University are creating a digital archive to reconstruct the Comanche language before its 25 remaining speakers die out. Meanwhile, researchers from Moscow State University and the Russian Academy of Sciences have recorded audio and video footage of twenty isolated Alaskans who speak a unique form of the Russian language. (Bonus: An Australian researcher recently uncovered a whole new Aboriginal dialect.)
In a piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jonathan Farmer responds to the recent pieces in the New York Times that ask poets to debate the question “does poetry matter?” As Farmer points out, ” it’s a bit like asking a bunch of religious figures if religion matters,” but the conversation is worth following and pairs well with our own recent pieces on poetry’s power and popularity.