The best books of 2014 (so far)

Emoji poetry and The Yolo Pages? Here's ten of our favourite literary releases from the past six months

Yolo Pages
Courtesy of beachsloth.blogspot

THE GREY BIRD: THIRTEEN EMOJI POEMS IN TRANSLATION BY CARINA FINN AND STEPHANIE BERGER 

‘Emoji poetry’ initially sounds like a post-ironic gimmick, but in the collaborative chapbook The Grey Bird out from Coconut Books in April, poets Finn and Berger have turned their involved ideogrammatical communication into richly unsettling reflections on love, travel, alienation, etc. Balancing the inherently modern with the timelessly lyric, Berger takes the emoji compositions from Finn and translates them into poems, most of which centre around the enigmatic ‘grey bird’. You can read two of the poems here.

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NEW TAB BY GUILLAUME MORISETTE

The tension between Internet-era hyper-subjectivity and the constant reminder of ‘reality’ and other people drives much of this novel by the co-editor of the blog Alt Lit Gossip. Morissette’s existential monologues are pressing, observant and challenging while still being accessible. His one-liners – e.g., ‘It was a terrible sensation, though only when I thought about it.’– are snapshots of a formidable thought process, and his work seems like it’ll soon be everywhere. Read Dazed’s interview with Guillaume here

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WHAT WOULD LYNNE TILLMAN DO? BY LYNNE TILLMAN

Both the cultural critic’s prose and presence inspire the ‘I haven’t met anyone like this before’, and her new collection, out from indie press Red Lemonade, crystallizes the clear-headed minimalist experimentalism of her fiction in essays on Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus, Gertrude Stein, Andy Warhol, and more.

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Courtesy of flavorwire.com

THE YOLO PAGES

Featuring an impressive list of contributors like Tao Lin, Beach Sloth, E.E. Scott, Melissa Broder, and @horse_ebooks, ‘one of the first anthologies ever to cover “alt lit”, “weird twitter”, flarf, and associated communities and figures’ is, explicitly, 200 pages of multi-genre, multi-media affirmation of poetry as a tool against evil. The book challenges conventions of Internet writing by recontextualising them in print, and it’s all compiled according to Roggenbuck’s boost house-brand altruism.

Yolo Pages
Courtesy of beachsloth.blogspot

BLACK CLOUD BY JULIET ESCORIA

Escoria’s debut short story collection is a brazen admission of the pains of reality in a time when pretending to be happy – to make light of your sadness – is easier than ever. The tone is a combination of Denis Johnson and Joan Didion, and although the stories are focused on drugs (and a wide variety of), Escoria never uses them gratuitously. Rather, each story is a dose of potent insight on the motivations and experiences of users both active and struggling-to-be former. Read a short excerpt from Black Cloud exclusively on Dazed. 

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THEORIES OF FORGETTING BY LANCE OLSEN

No matter how exciting, formal experimentation is rarely enough to make you want to keep reading. Although quirky narrative packaging (this one has two back covers, with a pair of narratives beginning at each one and a third blooming forth from the structural originals) can only be expected from a professor of ‘experimental narrative theory and practice’, Theories of Forgetting evades obviousness and experimentation for experimentation’s sake by being elegantly constructed, as well as fucking riveting.  

 

MOTHERLAND AND FATHERLAND HOMELANDSEXUALS BY PATRICIA LOCKWOOD

Books of poetry are not often described as ‘hot right now’, but last month it seemed there was some media god demanding every publication run a full-length feature on the American poet who rose to popularity on Twitter. Lockwood's now-unconventional (sob) attitude towards the literary life (according to the New York Times, she ‘seems to have spent her adult life in a Proustian attitude, writing for hours each day from her “desk-bed.”’) captivated everyone. Then they actually read her bizarrely sexually subversive trans-genre poetry and realised: holy shit.

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AMERICAN INNOVATIONS BY RIVKA GALCHEN

The best thing about what we call ‘the absurd’ is that the good kind isn’t actually absurd at all – it shows us something about our lives that realism can’t. While Galchen’s new collection could be characterised by the strange growths, climbing furniture, and time travel featuring prominently in it, more accurate would be to say that it’s about (women) dealing with uncomfortable emotions, deaths, unemployment, and crumbling relationships, and usually not doing a super great job of it.

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I'LL BE RIGHT THERE BY KYUNG-SOOK SHIN

Translated into English this year, I’ll Be Right There is a prime example of why you need to be seeking out literature in translation beyond whatever country’s Proustian epic is en vogue. The novel about twentysomething Jung Yoon and her three college friends takes place in their past period of intensity inspired by war, intellectual investigation, and political tumult, and you find yourself as invested in Shin’s characters as they are in each other.

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WHAT'S IMPORTANT IS FEELING BY ADAM WILSON

Teens with #feels! You knew all that sulking had more serious existential foundations, and Wilson’s short stories uncover the deep unsettlingness of all the loves and losses and having to think about whether you’re really as great as you think you are that come out of pre-adulthood. At times funny, at times harshly real, Wilson remains compassionate and sympathetic without fucking around. 

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