Are you still holiday shopping? Do you know any aspiring writers? Here are four gift ideas for the writer in your life, or for anyone who simply loves a great story.
Fourteen pieces of contemporary literary nonfiction from writers like Malcolm Gladwell, David Foster Wallace (who has the first and last word on right wing talk radio here), Chuck Klosterman, Susan Orlean and Michael Pollan. Great reporting and great stories. This should be inspiring for the many nonfiction writers out there.
Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers (ed. Joyce Carol Oates)(1998)
I know this is an 11 year old book, but this is one of the best writer’s anthologies I’ve seen. Oates is a terrific writer in her own right, but she’s also a great teacher and what she does here is to educate. The 100+ stories are arranged into instructive sections ranging from childhood stories, memoir, craft (two different versions of Joyce’s “The Sisters), horror to writings from classic sources like Grimm, the Bible, and Ovid. The breadth of writing covers writers like Chekhov and Kafka to contemporary writers like T.C. Boyle and Margaret Atwood. The stories entertain as well as provide an overview into style, tone, voice, and genre writing. Oates even provides a detailed afterword on writing strategies and writing workshops. This would be an indispensable tool in any aspiring writer’s belt.
Believe it or not Fierce Pajamas was one of the textbooks for a satire writing class I took. Both of these collections are top notch, and with selections ranging from E.B. White, James Thurber, and the brilliant Robert Benchley to Woody Allen, Ian Frazer, and Steve Martin these books brilliantly capture the urbane and witty humor characterized by The New Yorker. You will laugh, and then you’ll laugh some more. (One of my favorites is Noah Baumbaugh’s Keith Richard’s Desert Island Discs, which imagines Richards actually on a desert island slowly going mad as he listens to the same ten songs over and over again.) Either one of these would be great books for any aspiring humorist or for anyone who simply likes to laugh.
Hardcore Hardboiled (The Best of Neo-Noir Fiction) (2008)
Definitely not for everyone, this is hardboiled crime fiction for the 21st century. With titles like “Kill Posse” “Burning Ring of Fire” “Eight Guns over a Dead Girl” and “Sweet Benny and the Sanchez Penitentiary Band” Hardcore Hardboiled reads as if Humphrey Bogart or Jean-Paul Belmondo hitched a ride with Elmore Leonard into a Tarantino film. Hardcore Hardboiled is a great pulpy modern crime-genre anthology. It’s crude, lewd, and a whole hell of a lot of fun.
I guess this is my holiday post, so-- Happy Holidays Everyone!