Tag Archives: The Millions

My Top 10 Literary Websites: 2013 edition!

Best EverIn 2010, I wrote the most popular post on Category Thirteen, ever. I listed my Top 10 Literary Websites and, apparently, people really dug that topic — enough, at least, that they ended up on my site and must’ve told others about it. Well, it’s 2013 and I’ve realized something: I was a slacker for 2011 and 2012 (among many other things, obvi.). So, in the spirit of giving people what they want, I’ve updated my list and am pretty damn excited about it!

Let’s take a look my top 10 literary websites, and by 10, of course I mean 12!

1 ) The Rumpus – The more things change, the more they stay the same. This should really be no surprise. Not only has the Rumpus kept on doing what it does best (i.e. just about everything), they continue to up their game, which very few websites can claim. Isaac Fitzgerald and Stephen have a truly amazing thing going with The Rumpus with some great original ideas (e.g. “The Daily Rumpus,” “Letters in the Mail,” “The Last Book I Loved,” “Where I Write,” etc.), and it doesn’t hurt that they have some incredible talent backing them up, specifically their essays editor, Roxane Gay, and Dear Sugar herself, Cheryl Strayed. It seems incredible that I’ve actually written for this site given the level of talent surrounding it! Their book club is also stellar—you should join!

2 ) The Nervous BreakdownI really can’t say enough good things about Brad Listi and the work he puts into his Other People Podcast. Listi’s really on the bleeding edge of what’s hot in lit. right now and you needn’t look any further than his A+ guest list. The Nervous Breakdown serves as a truly wonderful compliment to the show with hilarious author self-interviews, fantastic essays, and kickass book club.

3) The MillionsThe Millions is still awesome. C. Max Magee’s site has been featured on NPR and noted by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Village Voice, among others. One of my favorite lit-related things in the universe is The Millions’ “A Year in Reading” where the editors ask a bunch of writers I really admire what their favorite books of the year were. The Millions’ “Top 10” and “Hall of Fame” are also can’t miss features.

4 ) HTMLGiant – Blake Butler & co. are still keeping lit. edgy at HTMLGiant. I’m a huge fan of their “25 Points” feature, as well as their giveaways, commentaries, and multi-part series (like “How to Be a Critic”). HTMLGiant also features a lot of writers I love reading like Jimmy Chen, Melissa Broder, Sean Lovelace, Lily Hoang, Adam Robinson, and Peter Tieryas Liu.

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2012’s Most Anticipated Books: The Big Presses | 01.03.12

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus: No venom seems more befitting an author than words, words, words. In Ben Marcus’s Flame Alphabet, language is the poison that youth inflict on adult ears. Utterances ushered from children’s mouths have toxic effects on adults, while the underage remain immune to the assault. The effects are so harmful that The Flame Alphabet’s narrator, Sam, and his wife must separate themselves from their daughter to preserve their health. Sam sets off to the lab to examine language and its properties in an attempt to discover an antidote and reunite his family. Marcus’s uncharacteristically conventional narrative makes way for him to explore the uncanny eccentricities of language and life.

The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq: Michel Houellebecq, the dyspeptic bad boy of French letters, has been accused of every imaginable sin against political correctness. His new novel, The Map and the Territory, is a send-up of the art world that tones down the sex and booze and violence but compensates by introducing a “sickly old tortoise” named Michel Houellebecq who gets gruesomely murdered. The book has drawn charges of plagiarism because passages were lifted virtually verbatim from Wikipedia. “If people really think that (is plagiarism),” Houellebecq sniffed, “then they haven’t the first notion what literature is.” Apparently, he does. The Map and the Territory was awarded the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize.

Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room by Geoff Dyer: Geoff Dyer shows no signs of slowing down after seeing two stunning books of essays published in the U.S. in 2011, Otherwise Known As the Human Condition and The Missing of the Somme. This English writer, blessed with limitless range and a ravishing ability to bend and blend genres, is coming out with a peculiar little book about a 30-year obsession. It’s a close analysis of the Russian director Andre Tarkovsky’s 1979 movie Stalker, and Dyer calls it “an account of watchings, rememberings, misrememberings and forgettings; it is not the record of a dissection.” Even so, Dyer brings some sharp instruments to the job, and the result is an entertaining and enlightening joy.

When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson: The exalted author of Gilead and Home claims that the hardest work of her life has been convincing New Englanders that growing up in Idaho was not “intellectually crippling.” There, during her childhood, she read about Cromwell, Constantinople, and Carthage, and her new collection of essays celebrates the enduring value of reading, as well as the role of faith in modern life, the problem with pragmatism, and her confident, now familiar, view of human nature.

Suddenly, A Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret: Etgar Keret’s choice of position while writing–facing a bathroom, his back to a window–reveals much about his fiction. He stories are absurd, funny, and unearth the unexpected in seemingly everyday situations. Many stories from his forthcoming collection are set on planes, “a reality show that nobody bothers to shoot,” and deal in wishes and desires. In “Guava,” a plane crashes, a passenger is granted a last wish and is then reincarnated as a guava. Another story involves a wish-granting goldfish, an aspiring documentary filmmaker, and a Russian expatriate who seeks to avoid having strangers knock on his door. Keret’s stories are brief inundations of imagination, an experience that holds true for Keret as much as it does for his reader. Keret says he becomes so immersed while writing that he’s unaware of his surroundings, regardless of his view.

The New Republic by Lionel Shriver: After a run of bestsellers, including the Columbine-inspired We Need to Talk About Kevin, which was recently made into a movie with Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly, Shriver is digging into her bottom drawer to publish an old novel rejected by publishers when she wrote it in 1998. The New Republic, written when Shriver still lived in strife-torn Northern Ireland, is set on a non-existent peninsula of Portugal and focuses on terrorism and cults of personality.

Hot Pink by Adam Levin: Adam Levin works on his short game with this follow-up to his 1,030-page debut novel The Instructions. Hot Pink is a collection of short stories, many of which have appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly and Tin House. From his own descriptions of the stories, Levin seems to be mining the same non-realist seam he excavated with his debut. There are stories about legless lesbians in love, puking dolls, violent mime artists, and comedians suffering from dementia. Fans of The Instructions’ wilder flights of invention (and devotees of the legless lesbian romance genre) will find much to anticipate here.

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List Thursdays: My Top 10 Literary Websites

1 ) The Rumpus – I  might have a slight bias here but the quality of literary (and all other) content here is top notch, truly. Not to mention the fact that The Rumpus has one of the best Book Clubs around, a fantastic advice column and the reader-written Last Book I Loved series.

2 ) The MillionsIf The Rumpus is (hypothetically speaking), let’s say, Tin House, then The Millions is definitely n+1.  The essays and reviews found on The Millions are top notch and guest contributions from established writers definitely lends the site its due where credibility is concerned. The Millions is legit.

3 ) HTMLGIANTSticking with the literary journal comparisons, HTMLGIANT is the literary website equivalent to McSweeney’s, if for nothing else than its edge and personality. The editors and contributing writers are smart, probably too smart, but always provide thought provoking insight in their essays. It’s worth checking out to acquaint yourself with Jimmy Chen, Blake Butler, Roxane Gay (also of [PANK] renown) and Kyle Minor alone.

4 ) MontevidayoIf there’s one site (luckily there’s more than one) that gives HTMLGIANT a run for smart content, it’s Montevidayo. The biggest difference is that the crew at Montevidayo are interested in a sort of community conversation. Multiple authors chime in on a few topics which really gives the reader a feel for what’s being discussed.

5 ) Bookslut Want reviews? Book Slut’s got ’em! (Michael Schaub, specifically.) As well as tons of features, a fantastic blog section and truly great interviews. Read Bookslut.

6 ) Maud NewtonI have to thank Isaac from The Rumpus for reminding me how much I love this site. I feel as though I’ve been neglectful and that’s a hurtful thing to be. I’m sorry Maud, I’ll be a better man, I promise! Maud Newton is the blog Category Thirteen strives to be!

7 ) Galley CatAll the happenings, comings and goings of the Publishing World (the empire that it is deserves CAPS.) A subsection of the truly excellent Media Bistro, Galley Cat is— as its title suggests– the first word on the book publishing industry.

8 ) Book ForumCome for the Daily Review and Omnivore, stay for the Paper Trail and Outposts.  Book Forum has a print copy you can pick up in stores too should your little Luddite heart so desire [I kid! (about the Luddite thing, I mean; Book Forum really does have a print mag.)]

9 ) Action, YesBrought to you by the editors of Montevidayo, Johannes Göransson, Joyelle McSweeney and John Dermot Woods, Action Yes is actually a quarterly I love but forgot to mention in last week’s list. Action Yes is also online only so it seems that it might be more appropriately recognized this week anyway.

10 ) Big Other I dig Big Other for a lot of reasons, but none perhaps more than their interviews and their Experimental Threads.  Check out their recent interview with HUSH author, Dave Kress and their article, “A New Technology for the Culture Industry” about Fignment.com, good stuff!

Honorable Mention —The Regulars: Salon.com/books, Huffington Post Books, Daily Book Beast, as well as The Nervous Breakdown, Sensitive Skin, ARTFACCIATK ReviewsLarge Hearted Boy, the full Media Bistro site and Agent Query.


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