This week marked the release of Reality Hunger author David Shields’ newest book, How Literature Saved My Life, a wonderfully meandering meditation on reading, writing, and the reason for art. In that spirit, we offer ten books that just might save your life — some which Shields mentions in his latest, some of which are our own favorites.… Read More
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s getting cold out there. February is our traditional hibernation time, so as far as we’re concerned, for the next month we’ll be eschewing nightlife and staying inside with various hot beverages and various room-temperature books. This month, we’re looking forward to blistering essays, masterful short stories, incredible debut novels, and a posthumous book from Maurice Sendak. Sounds good right? But as we all know, February’s a short month, so you’d better get cracking. Let us know what you’re most excited to read over the next few weeks in the comments. … Read More
If you haven’t noticed, we spend a lot of time thinking about literature here in the Flavorpill offices, digging through its past, weighing its current state, and imagining its future. Take a look at our bookshelves and you’ll find us reading everything from Nobel Prize winners to age-old classics to paperbacks printed at the bookstore down the street. Call it Chick-Lit, Hysterical Realism, Ethnic-Lit, or Translit — if it’s good fiction, we’ll be talking about it. So this summer, we’re launching The Future of American Fiction: an interview series expanding on that endless conversation about books we love, and yes, the direction of American fiction, from the people who’d know. Every Tuesday from now through the end of August, we’ll bring you a short interview with one of the writers we think is instrumental in defining that direction. … Read More
Today marks the release of celebrated novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson’s newest collection of essays, When I Was a Child I Read Books. We’ve been excited about this book for a while now, so if you’ve been reading our books coverage with any regularity you probably already know we think it’s something worth picking up. Great as it is, Robinson’s collection only whet our appetites for more essays by contemporary writers, so in case it does the same for you, we’ve put together a list of contemporary essayists we think everyone should be reading right now (or, you know, whenever you finish watching Downton Abbey). We’ve tried to stick to authors who are still alive — so David Foster Wallace and Christopher Hitchens are off the table, though they both would have made this list with flying colors were they still with us — and limited ourselves to American writers, but even with those caveats, there is enough in these writers’ oeuvres to keep you up and thinking for weeks on end. Click through to read our list, and please do add your own suggestions for top-notch essayists we should all be reading in the comments. … Read More
This week, we came across this list of ‘books you really should have read in high school’ over at MSNBC’s Today Books. While their picks are definitely classics, most of which we did in fact have to read in high school, we think today’s youth (and any adults playing catch-up, which let’s be real, is almost everybody to some extent) would be better served by a few alternate choices. The classics are wonderful, but the canon should be fluid, allowing some experimental choices as well as the tried-and-true. Of course, kids today should read hundreds of books, if possible, so this is by necessity a finite, imperfect list reflecting, as it must, our own proclivities. Let us know your own choices for essential alternative high school reading in the comments! … Read More
One of our go-to Monday morning reads (seriously, bookmark it) is The Days of Yore, a stellar blog that interviews artists of all stripes about the time before they were successful. It is consistently inspiring, thoughtful and flat-out wonderful to read – and whether you’re an aspiring artist, writer, musician or some combination thereof, there will be someone to give you some pithy life advice. When one of our very favorite authors, Jennifer Egan, won the Pulitzer this week for her mind-blowing novel A Visit From The Goon Squad, we were thrilled to see her Days of Yore interview go up soon after, and it got us thinking about all the great life advice from amazing authors just dangling out there in the universe, waiting to be collected. Click through for some curated advice and musings from Jennifer Egan, George Saunders, Gary Shteyngart, Wells Tower, and well, you know, anyone who’s anyone, and if you get inspired, be sure to click over to the whole interview. … Read More
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a country by the kind of covers it puts on its books? We’ve always found the cover changes between US and UK editions of the same books pretty interesting – they must be reflective of our different cultures in some way incomprehensible to us. After all, book jacket designers are trying to capture the attention and imagination of their target populace, so it’s fascinating to see what the experts think will attract a Brit versus what they think might attract an American. Inspired by the annual US vs UK book cover comparison of Rooster contenders over at The Millions, we decided to make a list of our own, comparing the covers of our favorite books from last year — and, just for fun, a few of our favorite books from years past. Click through to see the comparisons and our picks for the winners, and let us know what you think in the comments! … Read More
We told you about David Shields’ mash-up manifesto Reality Hunger back in February. Last night the author appeared on The Colbert Report to promote the new book, and in the process of explaining that all art is theft, he made the mistake of citing Stephen’s borrowed “persona” as evidence. Evidently, this is is how to make Stephen Colbert cut up your book and then throw it on the floor. … Read More
Books spotlighted by publishers as their key titles come with balls of hype trailing behind them. But it seems like we’ve been hearing about David Shields’ barely-200-page treatise Reality Hunger for ages, and it was only released this past Tuesday.
Maybe it’s because Zadie Smith used the book as a crutch for insecure introspection about her own writing. Maybe it’s because it’s already become required reading in university spheres, galleys passed from one student to the next like an illicit hit of crack cocaine. I know I’ve already had spirited discussions about Reality Hunger with friends and critical colleagues. It’s hard to resist the urge to argue with the text, especially when Shields states his intention “to write the ars poetica for a burgeoning group of interrelated (but unconnected) artists in a multitude of forms and media…who are breaking larger and larger chunks of ‘reality’ into their work” right there on page one. … Read More
As The Millions noted in its 2010 book preview, the theme for the upcoming year (and beyond) seems to be posthumous publication: Roberto Bolaño, Ralph Ellison, Stieg Larsson, and David Foster Wallace — the dead gang’s all here! (OK, so technically DFW’s The Pale King isn’t meant to come out until 2011, but we couldn’t leave him out.) That said, there’s plenty of good stuff to look forward to from the living as well. After the jump, we reveal the books that we’re most excited about reading in the coming months — and tell you about a few that we’ve already devoured.
Be sure to leave your own suggestions in the comments. … Read More