Its practically taboo these days to say aloud, or even whisper, what we all know to be true: reading is hard. And its not just genre enthusiasts or publishers with dollar signs in their eyes who would make the case for fiction as easy entertainment instead. You dont have to look far at all to find writers, even highbrow authors, who trumpet the cause of fun reading.
This is not a book about an aircraft carrier. What is it? Thats not easy to say. In many short chapters amounting to a short book, Geoff Dyer chronicles his two weeks as writer in residence aboard the USS George H.W. Bush, using himself as a not-so-transparent lens on Navy life.
In Theories of Forgetting, Lance Olsens 12th novel and 25th book, he may have brought off the boldest departure of a career dedicated to such takeoffs. The formatting allows the text to be read in either direction, each featuring different fonts.
Its about damn time theres a biography of Valerie Solanas, author of the SCUM Manifesto and shooter of Andy Warhol. A writer, revolutionary, and icon, a frustrating reality of her life was that, no matter how singular her voice, Solanas consistently found herself surrounded by others who (well-meaning or malicious) endeavored to use her for their own agendaa lifes work incessantly stolen.
I stay in a place that people leave. This single, defiant sentence reveals the tone of David Giffelss new book of essays, The Hard Way on Purpose. In the book, Giffels writes with equal parts loving pride and critical acumen about Akron, Ohio, the city in which he was born.
There are times when reading a novel is painful. Not because the prose is lacking or the narrative lags, but because the subject matter verges on the unbearable. Roxane Gays debut novel, An Untamed State, falls under this last category.
When I saw a book titled Growing Up Muslim: Muslim College Students in America Tell Their Life Stories, I thought I would be reading insightful autobiographical essays representative of the range of experiences of growing up Muslim in a society fundamentally ignorant of the breadth of Muslim culture and variety of forms the religion takes.
The work of W.G. Sebald (1944 2001) reminds us that the effects of what Wallace Stevens called the Supreme Fiction may be achieved without recourse to the supernatural: consciousness is plenty fantastic, or dreary, without it. As Stevens said, The imagination loses vitality as it ceases to adhere to what is real.
Demons can transfer from person to person. Or so Jennifer Percy learns as she sets out to talk to war veterans for her debut nonfiction work, Demon Camp.
Two years after Jesmyn Ward won the 2011 National Book Award for her novel Salvage the Bones, shes back with Men We Reaped, a memoir of her upbringing in the ghetto of rural Mississippi.
When he received a brown belt from his karate coach it was the happiest moment of Kenan Trebincevics life. A year later this same coach arrived at his apartment building with an AK-47 to inform his family that they had one hour to leave or be killed.
Lynne Tillmans new book What Would Lynne Tillman Do? takes its title from a promotional campaign run by Dear Dave, a magazine of photography and writing put out by New York City's School of Visual Arts, which ran a print ad and then glued posters around downtown bearing only those five words.
Bianca Stone is the author of Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Tin House/Octopus Books, 2014), several poetry and poetrycomic chapbooks, and is also the illustrator of Antigonick, a collaboration with Anne Carson (New Directions, 2012).
Suppose the human race has been compromised by a debilitating sadness in which getting out of bed in the morning feels like pulling a sequoia out of the earth with your bare hands.
Edgar G. Ulmer once served as a case study for Sigmund Freuds childhood analysis. He invented the unchained camera, the dolly shot, and German Expressionism. He directed Detour, a film noir B-movie almost lost but now preserved in the Library of Congress.
I like opening sentences, paragraphs, and pages, especially those that seem to contain inexplicably all things that follow. Whole novels lying dormant on a single page that, with a turn, spring forth like a minor Big Bang, or one of those giant sequoia trees from an incredible tiny seed.
Though our hearts may break for lonely characters in fiction, we still dont have to invite them to dinner. A once-glittering socialite like Edith Whartons Lily Bart ends up penniless, friendless, and doomed, and we settle back with a weepy cocktail of pity and anger. After all, shes not our responsibility.