Archive for January 1st, 2012

Literary resolutions for 2012 … and a review of 2011, a “Festival of Sleaze”

Sunday, January 1st, 2012
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We all feel a little burned out after New Year’s celebrations, and I’m no exception. So here are some notable literary resolutions to fortify and inspire you for the coming year:

No commas, please

Ben Greenman, author of the short story collection What He’s Poised to Do: “I want to reread all the Emily Dickinson poems, in order, at a slow enough rate that I understand them but a fast enough rate to keep it exciting. It’s not as easy at it sounds. And I also plan to think about why, in a time of reduced attention spans, short stories aren’t getting more traction.”

Elissa Schappell, author of the short story collection Blueprints for Building Better Girls: “It’s the Russians. It’s always the Russians. Oh yes, I’ll read the Russians in the summer months. Two summers ago, I developed such a bad case of Tolstoy‘s elbow from hauling around War and Peace I could barely flip through a magazine. The summer before Crime and Punishment doubled as a drinks tray at a lawn party, and when I got spooked staying alone at a friend’s summer house, I kept it by the door as a weapon. This year, however I’m more hopeful–I’m starting, more appropriately, in winter. Beginning tomorrow I’m going to make Anna Karenina my new BFF.”

The Russians are coming

James Hannaham, author of the novel God Says No:  “This year I want to figure out why, when an author says the phrase ‘working on a story collection,’ as in ‘I’m working on a story collection,’ everyone in publishing reacts as if they have instead heard the phrase ‘molesting several children.’ And I will continue to pray for the demise of e-books, or at least the demise of the stupid fear that they will replace printed books.”

Richard Lange, author of the 2013 novel Gather Darkness (Mulholland):  “I’m going to reread Moby Dick, Crime & Punishment, and The Scarlet Letter. Every time I go back to books that I loved as a kid, I learn more about myself as a writer now.”

Marisa Silver, author of the short story collection Alone With You: “Read more poetry. Use fewer commas.”

Read the rest at the Los Angeles Times here.

Meanwhile, Dave Barry reviews 2011: “It was the kind of year that made a person look back fondly on the gulf oil spill”:

Multiple committees, strongly held views

This was a year in which journalism was pretty much completely replaced by tweeting. It was a year in which a significant earthquake struck Washington, yet failed to destroy a single federal agency. …

But all of these developments, unfortunate as they were, would not by themselves have made 2011 truly awful. What made it truly awful was the economy, which, for what felt like the 17th straight year, continued to stagger around like a zombie on crack. Nothing seemed to help. …

As the year wore on, frustration finally boiled over in the form of the Occupy Various Random Spaces movement, wherein people who were sick and tired of a lot of stuff finally got off their butts and started working for meaningful change via direct action in the form of sitting around and forming multiple committees and drumming and not directly issuing any specific demands but definitely having a lot of strongly held views for and against a wide variety of things. Incredibly, even this did not bring about meaningful change. The economy remained wretched, especially unemployment, which got so bad that many Americans gave up even trying to work. Congress, for example.

Read the rest here.