paper trail

Jan 8, 2013 @ 12:22:00 am

Penguin's new cover for George Orwell's 1984.

The Millions has unveiled their annual list of the year’s most anticipated books. In addition to books that we’ve already covered (the new George Saunders and Alejandro Zambra) we’re especially excited about the Renata Adler re-releases, Rachel Kushner, and Fiona Maazel’s forthcoming novels, and the Helen DeWitt novel that we hope will eventually be published. For other year-in-books previews, check out the Google Hangout conversation between Los Angeles Times critics David Ulin and Carolyn Kellogg.

It’s the week of George Saunders. Today marks the release of his short story collection Tenth of December, which made the cover of The New York Times Magazine—with the headline “George Saunders Just Wrote the Best Book You’ll Read This Year,” no less—and has been roundly praised by everyone from Zach Baron in Bookforum to Mary Karr, who told the Times that “I think he’s the best short-story writer in English alive.” Elsewhere, Slate runs a conversation with Saunders and his editor Andy Ward, and The Awl reproduces the New Yorker’s in-house style sheet for editing Saunders stories, which includes mandates like, “Hyphenate compounds made up of nouns of equal value: ‘elf-baby.’” For those who want to revisit Saunders’s older work, we recommend reading the pieces mentioned in the Times Magazine profile—an end-of-relationship essay called “Chicago Christmas, 1984”, and a story on Dubai’s “steroidal capitalism.”

In response to Hamilton Nolan’s takedown of confessional writing as a purely narcissistic endeavor that should be distinguished from journalism (but often isn’t), David Ulin makes an eloquent case for the necessity of thoughtful confessional work: “the paradox is that the more mindless the narcissism with which we are confronted, the more we need relentless confessional work. It’s the difference between art and artifice, between self-expression and self-importance...”

The brilliant new cover for George Orwell’s 1984.

Pablo Neruda lines + cat photos = best tumblr of 2013.