by Bill Morris
Delightfully free of finger-pointing, cheap nostalgia, or breathless boosterism, the book makes the point that only through an understanding of this troubled city’s history can one hope to understand its current woes and its possible ways forward.1
by Julia Fierro
It’s rare that a book inspires me as both a writer and a reader, and The Barter did just that, while exploring, with refreshing honesty, the internal and external demands that women continue to face.0
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“Reading fiction is one of my true loves, but essays help me to understand things about the world, the writer, and if they’re really great, myself.” Electric Literature‘s Jason Diamond argues 2014 was “The Year of the Essay,” and when we think over the collections published this year – The Empathy Exams, The Unspeakable and Loitering, among others - it’s hard to disagree.
In 1913, four years before the Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II made the now-baffling claim that a writer named Teffi was the only major Russian writer. At the time, however, his endorsement made sense, because everybody in Russia, from royalty on down, read Teffi’s work and “delighted” in it. Until the revolution, at which point she was consigned to oblivion. William Grimes writes about a new collection of her stories.
“Idea #2: Book opens to reveal it is hollow, contains one medium-sized onion. Review: ‘Multilayered… had me in tears.'” How to write a first novel that gets praised in the New York Times.
It’s easy to find essays targeted at writers that argue that rejection isn’t really that bad. In her new book, How to Not Write, Lisa Carver takes the argument a step further, as she says that not only does rejection not hurt you, it “frees you” and “facilitates action.” At The Rumpus, an excerpt from the book.
Out this week: The Devil in Montmartre by Gary Inbinder; The Emperor of Ice Cream by Dan Gunn; Deeds of Darkness by Edward Marston; and The Cat and the Moon and Other Cat Poems, chosen by the British Library. For more on these and other recent titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview. Support The Millions: Bookmark this link and start there when you shop at Amazon.
Most writers, unless they’re lucky enough to have an ideal place in which to work, make do with the best space available. For Colum McCann’s father, the shed in his backyard, which “always smelled damp inside, as if the rain rose up out of the carpet,” sufficed for the fiction he wrote after coming home from work. At Page-Turner, the National Book Award winner and Year in Reading alum remembers his father’s retreat.
I’ve written before about The Believer‘s “How Writers Read” series, and now the second installment, which includes questions about guilty reading and the constant debate between short and long books, is online.
“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).
Recommended reading: Lauren Collins writes for The New Yorker about the Oxford University Marginalia group and the fate of bookish scribblings.
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Read More The Millions Top 10 November 2014
The Bone Clocks David Mitchell
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Karen Joy Fowler
The Novel: A Biography Michael Schmidt
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage Haruki Murakami
Reading Like a Writer Francine Prose
The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan
My Struggle: Book 1 Karl Ove Knausgaard
Cosmicomics Italo Calvino
All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr