Best Book of 2016: Joanne Kyger’s On Time
Hoa Nguyen on why Joanne Kyger’s On Time is the best book of 2016.
Best Book of 2015: Thus Were Their Faces by Silvina Ocampo
‘Time is a rubber band, and in a single sentence, ghosts and alternative worlds superimpose’
Best Book of 1955: The Magician’s Nephew
‘Much like Tolkien’s, admittedly vaster, legendarium, Lewis’s world is exquisitely conceived.’
Best Book of 1900: The Autobiography of Dr William Henry Johnson
‘Johnson is now a ghost of history; he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, but I can’t let him disappear.’
Best Book of 2000: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
‘It is the novel I have read which best expresses the honest and sad truth of art: that it is often produced in precarity and performed in near silence, but that it can also redeem a life.’
Best Book of 1941: Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher
‘This book is about yearning for the Sunday nights of childhood, or dreams; it is a meditation on hunger in all its forms.’
Best book of 1983: The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek
‘After 2016 I’m done with sentimentality, and it’s hard to think of a less sentimental book than The Piano Teacher, objectively a masterpiece, subjectively a book that changed my life.’
Best book of 1964: Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr
‘In days of such human cruelty and pettiness and stupidity, we need reminding that we are all capable of savage compassion as well as the contagion of hatred.’
Best Book of 1965: Everything That Rises Must Converge
‘O’Conner has for me the effect of nailing and then blowing up one’s most casual illusions’
‘There is foam on the sea of our blood. It is the foam of history. We are the survivors, we say.’
Here Be Dragons | Discoveries
A round-up of maps, literary, diagrammatic, chaotic and specific. Maps of London, maps of literature, maps of maps.
‘Can bad mothers be taught to be good? Or maybe, can we be incentivized to bond? To love?’
Polymorphous Perversity | Discoveries
New erotica from Anaïs Nin; Emily Dickinson’s bedroom; Isaac Asimov’s dystopias, interracial love circa 1963 and more.
‘In Hollin Hills, we believed our flatware could change the world.’ Jennifer Kabat on the intersection of modernist architecture and espionage.
In the not-so-distant future, middle-class underachievers are faced with a difficult choice: prison or motivational business classes.
The Fall of Rome | Discoveries
Word of the Year 2016: Post-Truth; Don DeLillo on the enemy in the White House; Leonard Cohen, the novelist; Ariel Levy’s Thanksgiving in Mongolia.
The Very Ecstasy of Love | Discoveries
Zadie on Beyoncé, Didion on diarists, Bureaucracy as Sadism, How Did They Win that prize? and more.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Werewoolf? | Discoveries
Sylvia Plath’s sass, Bob Dylan spars with Leonard Cohen, Guillermo del Toro talks vampires, Shirley Jackson scares the baby boomers
Thomas Pynchon Found! | Discoveries
The politics of outing writers with pseudonyms, the power of Nell Zink’s first sentences, and Trump fiction.
‘When I picture my childhood, it’s like I’m swimming underwater.’ Merethe Lindstrøm’s story is translated from the Norwegian by Marta Eidsvåg, and is the winner of Harvill Secker’s Young Translators’ Prize 2016.
All that Offers a Happy Ending Is a Fairy Tale
‘If you were like me, you would know the obsession of the compulsive reader: every street sign; every bottle label’
The Unknown Known | Discoveries
A round-up of things we love, from all over the internet.
The Adventures of Amit Majmudar
‘Never laid a snare for nothin. / Never caught a bullfrog. Broke / my slingshot wishbone, wishin. / Never had a smoke.’ New poetry from Amit Majmudar.
Who are the Campbells? | Discoveries
Our latest discoveries from the literary internet, from the new selfishness epidemic to artistic theft.
The Weak Spot
‘There was a certain kind of teenage girl who would relish not just the killing, but the trophy taking, choosing a tooth and using the pliers herself.’
Five Things Right Now: Melissa Lee-Houghton
‘It thrills and delights me that I can now watch concerts I would’ve given several fingers to go to in the ’90s, albeit wonky though these videos are.’
Stripes on My Shirt Like Migratory Birds
‘ “I got lost in my life” / which may or may not be / misheard.’
‘She’d gotten so used to her loneliness, she didn’t want to fall from it now.’
The Price You See Reflects the Poor Quality of the Item and Your Lack of Desire for It
‘I walk away from you / without glancing back, in case you see in me something I don’t.’
The Heart Compared to a Seed, c.1508 (after Leonardo da Vinci)
‘noce, the heart—the nut that gestates the tree of veins.’