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by Rachel Kushner
“Readable” has become the chosen term of praise in our times precisely because so many of us find ourselves unable to concentrate as we once could or still aspire to. But to praise readability is to embrace the vicious feedback loop that our culture now finds itself in.
What better way to test my fortitude than by hammering my head with the legendarily impenetrable Irish jibberish of Finnegans Wake? If I can run 20 yammering nonsensical miles, then an extra six with folks cheering most of the way instead: easy, right? Maybe easier.
It’s the one novel I’ve read this year that takes work seriously, that balances decadence with an honest day’s work.
Both Alexander Chee and Shawna Yang Ryan took nearly 15 years to complete their novels. Labor on this scale is perhaps the exact antithesis of the genre model of fiction writing -- with the rapacious, regular demands of the marketplace. The bruising deadlines, the concept-driven, pre-packaged product.
The coming together of the novel’s two plots is the least compelling aspect of Innocents and Others. Its nod to narrative unity is forced, but the best part about the nod is how convincingly it suggests that we were all better off talking to each other in the dark.
At 9,000 words strong and encompassing 91 titles, this is the only 2015 book preview you will ever need.
I read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan trilogy this year. I read it twice, actually. It made me want to quit writing.
I love a book that tears me to shreds -- and, on the sentence level, soars to the heavens.
The collaborative medium between prose and photography, poetry and photography deserves a more established home in the spectrum of the literary world.
In a big shake-up, six books graduate to the Hall of Fame and we have a new number one.
If a first novel fails to become a blockbuster, as almost all of them do, publishers are less inclined to get behind the follow-up by a writer who has gained a dubious track record but has lost that most precious of all literary selling points: novelty. Writers get only one shot at becoming The Next Big Thing.