It’s that time of year again: Time for us all to reflect and quickly post to the Internet our favorite books, writers, Tweeps and tweets of 2013. But before we do that, I’d like to offer up these thoughts on what list-making, trash-talking and reading have to do with one another. In “How Lists Feed My Inner Trash-Talker, But Not My Inner-Nerd,” I make peace with being both a Kentuckian, and therefore a big-talking trash-talker, and a little shy nerd who likes to read.
Highlights from Sycamore Review:
“Which brings me to lists. And how everyone says they hate lists but secretly loves lists or at least clicks on them. As writers yourselves, I’m sure you know what I mean. They help us know what to like, who to envy, and what’s “good.” Because how would we know otherwise? They give us some good starting grounds for fisticuffs (especially if you’re a college basketball fan this year). And of course, because, as the mysterious they has told us for many moons, a kabillion books are published each and every year and no one reads books anymore.
“So maybe, for lit blogs, the reasoning is to shepherd people toward the “good” books in an effort to make them love literature like when they were babies and their mothers served them warmed milk and beautiful Golden Books each night as they drifted to sleep under their Pottery Barn down comforters.”
“When I read a list, I’m not shoving my nose into a book. And that would make the list-makers of the world quite sad, I think. Because while the intention of a list seems to be pure, and often a celebration of Things to Love, it really just lights up the parts of my brain that are argumentative and like to play beer pong. Yes, lists are fun in the way beer pong is fun: yes, but you always go one too many rounds, say something silly, and live to regret it. This kind of fun is not at all fun in the way that actual reading is fun and singular and has nothing to do with a party. What is fun (for me) about reading is that it charges the parts of my brain that are shy and warm and say please and drink Ovaltine before lugging a precious hardback up the hill home from the library. I imagine sometimes this fun involves crying into one’s Ovaltine and trash talking Raskolnikov.”
“Lists like these generally make us explain the purpose or urgency of art—like good art has some utilitarian function. And if so, that function applies directly to people trolling BuzzFeed: Top Ten Books to Read in the Recession! Top Twelve Lit Magazines with Kittehz! POETRY MAGAZINE CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER?”
Want more? Click here to read the rest. (Spoiler alert: It features Madonna, Mitch McConnell, the Louisville Cardinals, and other such trash-talkers.)