NEW NOVEL OF THE WEEK: How Should A Person Be? by Shelia Heti
Toronto sensation Sheila Heti's new novel has been a hot topic in the literary press here lately, and deservedly so I think: it's a properly cutting-edge and brave and funny and gnarly-sexy blur of the boundary between fact and fiction. How Should a Person Be takes a load of real circumstances and events - and even tape-recorded conversations - from Sheila’s life and weaves them into a fun and cleverclogs and timely investigation into the point of art. There’s an interview with her about it all in the new issue of Dazed, which you ought to buy if you’re into this sort of thing. I first heard about Heti when I read these extracts from the novel on the brilliant n+1 website. Which brings us nicely to...
LITERARY JOURNAL OF THE WEEK: n+1
n+1 is a New York-based journal of literature, culture and politics that puts out three shit-hot issues a year. They publish loads of amazing writing and their website’s a really good too. Now fifteen issues deep and expanding all over the shop, it’s gone from front room to forefront of culture in pretty much record time. I saw one of n+1’s ‘founding consultants’ Christian Lorentzen (now at the London Review of Books) doing a panel discussion last week with Rachael Allen (of the consistently rad ‘Clinic Presents’) and the editors of the (also rad) White Review, all about the future of the literary journal. It was fun!
NEW SHORT STORY COLLECTION OF THE WEEK: Tenth of December by George Saunders
It’s always a massive deal when a new George Saunders collection arrives, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Weird, often futuristic, often macabre, hilarious and sad-making and pretty much sentence-to-sentence perfect; Saunders stories are some of the best available to human eyes now. Ones like Escape from the Spiderhead and My Chivalric Fiasco just make me eat my fist with teary admiration. I interviewed him recently here.
NEW NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE WEEK: The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond
I sort of accidentally started reading this and I keep coming back to it and keep getting stoked. Diamond is the Guns, Germs and Steel guy: an anthropologist, biologist, ornithologist, ecologist and historian whose new book is all about his experiences with traditional cultures, mainly in Papua New Guinea, where he’s spent shitloads of time scoping out the natives. We’re all useless misguided flabby western bell-ends and we could learn a lot from tribal cultures, is the gist of it. It’s a real eye-opener.
CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE WEEK: Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton
This has been out for a few months now, and it’s really meant for three or four year-olds, but I still find myself looking at it every few days. It’s basically the best new children’s picture book I’ve seen since I’ve been an adult. It’s about a dog called George and his owner Harris and it’s just got this perfect alchemical marriage of pictures and words and deeply, deeply valuable lessons. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love it.