I’ll give it to you straight: 2014 was a weird year in literary criticism. There were a lot of “hybrid” pieces, the kind that I’m not altogether fond of. But there were, to be sure, a number of substantial essays and reviews that worked to open up possibilities in literary writing. Here, with mere hours remaining in the year, are the best pieces of literary criticism (that I can remember) from 2014. Did I miss something? Too bad. 2014 is over, and it doesn’t make sense to have two rage years in a row.
Hell’s Kitchen. Hell Gate. Richard Hell. The signs (and wonders) are everywhere. Abandon all hope: New York City is a living Hell of renegade capital, exploited labor, racial hatred, institutional misogyny, and bodega cats. You must say goodbye.
Or is it a neoliberal paradise, imperfect yet lovable, where capital and culture and rats roam free?
Just what is a cult novel? Well, like so many literary terms, the edges blur whenever you try to look right at them, but in the end, you sort of know one when you read one. Sometimes a cult novel is one that the critics panned but the fans love, or sometimes it’s one that both readers and critics love, but a certain contingent of readers really love. Any book with a squadron of rabid fans swearing that it changed their lives quickly seems cultish. Cult novels often come from the fringes, they often represent countercultural perspectives, they often experiment with form. Here are 50 of the …Read More
When you write about culture on a pretty constant basis, James Franco is sometimes like a good old friend who shows up exactly when you need him, always there to say or do something that you can write about. In terms of books, which I believe is Franco’s preferred side gig to his acting, Franco should be commended because there are few celebrities aside from maybe Oprah or now Stephen Colbert who do as much to help more casual readers discover new writers, and that’s a good thing. But…
“The most amazing thing about the Shakira phenomenon is the craze that has gripped masses of children.” The late Gabriel García Márquez wrote that in his 2002 profile on Shakira for The Guardian. Even when covering one of the biggest pop stars in the world, the Nobel Prize winner’s music writing doesn’t rank anywhere near his classics like One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera, but it does earn a spot alongside a few of our other favorite rock star/writer pairings.
The hard work, the MFA vs. NYC debate, the negativity, the importance of a good Twitter account, the parties you have to go to, the readings you have to do, the people you should meet, the agents you need to impress — amid all the different ways writers have found to obsess over what it takes to be successful, we sometimes forget the most important thing of all: great writers need to be great readers. Of course, you can’t read everything, but once you’ve moved past the totally obvious titles, consider adding these 25 books to your TBR …Read More
There are about a hundred tags one could pin to William S. Burroughs, from lunatic to revolutionary, and just about everything in between. He is one of the most misunderstood artists of the last century — and also one of the most influential, his dirty fingerprint smudged all over the culture, from noise music to the films of David Cronenberg. To celebrate his 100th birthday, we’re looking back at some of the icons who Burroughs had an impact on. It’s an impressive roster of names, but these 12 barely scratch the surface when it comes to just how far his influence …Read More
It doesn’t take name-dropping Black Flag or writing a scene where a character gets her first mohawk to know that the book you’re reading is influenced in some way or another by the punk scene. Jeff Jackson’s mesmerizing debut, Mira Corpora, which reads like some cross between Bruno Schulz and the backstories of random characters from Penelope Spheeris’ 1984 film Suburbia, is that kind of book.
There must be something in the water this spring — that’s the water the publishing industry all drinks, that is. This month, Algonquin is publishing Jill McCorkle’s novel Life After Life, and in April, Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown will come out with Kate Atkinson’s, er, Life After Life. Oops! Both novels, as it happens, are quite good (and are sharing top billing as the American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next Pick in April), and we’re looking forward to “accidentally” having to buy them both. Intrigued by this phenomenon, we dug around for other examples of two great books sporting the same title — though none of our other pairs were born so close to one another. Check them out after the jump, and let us know if we missed any of your favorite titular doppelgangers in the comments.