In wrapping of the year’s best-of-2012 lists, we couldn’t help but single out the University of Chicago Press titles that made the cut as reads worth remembering. With that in mind, here’s a list of our books that earned praise as cream of the crop here and abroad, from scholarly journals, literary blogs, metropolitan newspapers, and the like. If you’re looking, might we (and others) recommend—
A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava
made the Philadelphia City Paper’s Best of the Year list named one of the best books of the year by the Houston Chronicle included in Bookriot’s list of the five most overlooked books of 2012 picked as the book of the year by a bookseller at the Oxford Blackwell’s: “ feel so evangelical about I want to run around screaming ‘YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK OR YOUR LIFE WILL BE INCOMPLETE,’ in Billy Graham style.” named one of the ten best fiction books of 2012 by the Wall Street Journal named by Wall Street Journal fiction editor Sam Sacks as one of his own favorite fiction books of 2012 named by Sasha Frere-Jones of the New Yorker as . . .
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The 2012 class of Guggenheim Fellows was announced this week by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, inciting some exuberant responses on the part of several winners (check out Terry Teachout’s Twitter feed). The Guggenheim has long been hailed as the “mid-career award,” honoring scholars, scientists, poets, artists, and writers, who have likely published a book or three, professed a fair amount of research, and are actively engaged in projects of significant scope. The fellowship possesses some tortured origins—(John) Simon Guggenheim, who served as president of the American Smelting and Refining Company and Republican senator from Colorado, seeded the award (1925) following the death of this son John (1922) from mastoiditis (Guggenheim’s second son George later committed suicide, and more infamously his older brother Benjamin went down with the Titanic).
Among this year’s crop (we dare say more forward-leaning than previous years?) is a roster of standout “professionals who have demonstrated exceptional ability by publishing a significant body of work in the fields of natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the creative arts,” affiliated with the University of Chicago Press:
Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine and author of three poetry collections, coeditor of . . .
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The September 14th issue of the London Review of Books features an extended, combative review by Elif Batuman of a recent book from Harvard University Press, Mark McGurl’s The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing. Though Batuman takes issue with many of McGurl’s points, her essay is the sort of review any author ought to be happy to get, one that takes the book seriously enough to engage deeply with its ideas.
Ultimately, however, Batuman is simply much more critical of university writing programs and the fiction they’ve spawned than McGurl is, arguing, among other things, that their ahistorical approach to fiction is a short-sighted, narcissistic mistake. “Literary scholarship,” writes Batuman, “may not be an undiluted joy to its readers, but at least it’s usually founded on an ideal of the collaborative accretion of human knowledge.”
Batuman’s essay brought to mind one of our books, D. G. Myers’s The Elephants Teach: Creative Writing since 1880, which takes a longer view than McGurl’s book, surveying and analyzing more than a century of debate over how—and even whether—creative writing should be taught. Myers draws on a wide range of writers—including Longfellow, Emerson, Frost, John Berryman, John Dewey, . . .
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James Franco is a busy man. Between starring in major motion pictures, appearing on daytime soap operas, and guesting in the book trailer for Gary Shteyngart’s new novel, he is also pursuing a literary life; his debut short story collection will be published this fall. For now we’ll recuse ourselves from judging whether Franco’s writing talent is equal to his acting abilities (judge for yourself: PWxyz offers up representative opening lines from the short stories, and Esquire published “Just Before the Black” back in March). But we can equivocally say this: the guy has great taste.
In a May interview, Franco discussed his favorite recent reads, among them our very own title: Richard Stark’s The Hunter. And today, culture blog Flavorwire dutifully assembled this James Franco Reading List, which, of course, contains the classic crime thriller. Well, James, since your proposed seminar at Yale got nixed, you probably have some time on your hands. And if you liked The Hunter, we’ve got plenty more where that came from.
In September 2008, the University of Chicago Press began reissuing Donald E. Westlake‘s Parker novels (which he wrote under the alias Richard Stark), and so far we’ve bought fifteen titles back into . . .
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Fans of Donald E. Westlake were saddened by his sudden death on New Year’s Eve of 2008. But luckily, the beloved author—who over the course of his fifty-year career published more than a hundred books, many under sundry pseudonyms—has continued to be prolific, even in death. In September 2008, the University of Chicago Press began reissuing Westlake’s Parker novels (which he wrote under the alias Richard Stark). So far, we’ve published an even dozen, and the next three books in the series—The Green Eagle Score, The Black Ice Score, and The Sour Lemon Score—will be showing up in stores any day now. In order to celebrate the books, our resident Westlake scholar Levi Stahl talked with Charles Ardai, editor of Hard Case Crime, the publisher of a newly discovered Westlake novel from the early 1960s, Memory, out this month. Ardai will also contribute forewords to our next set of Parker reissues—Deadly Edge, Slayground, and Plunder Squad —due out this fall.
Fans of crime novels have a lot of reasons to be grateful to Charles Ardai: as a writer, he’s produced a couple of top-notch hardboiled novels, and as a cofounder of Hard Case Crime, he’s shepherded new voices into . . .
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As we’ve previously noted, Donald Westlake’s (1933-2008) early Parker novels—the hard-boiled noir thrillers he wrote under the name Richard Stark—have been making a comeback since we began reissuing them in ’08.
But we can’t take all the credit for the resurgence of the ruthless Parker. In the summer of ’09 Eisner Award-winning comic book artist Darwyn Cooke released his graphic adaptation of one of the first books of the series—The Hunter—at the 2009 Comic-Con International in San Diego where it made a big splash amongst the comic book world’s elite tastemakers. And now it seems that the federally sanctioned tastemakers in Washington have taken notice too. According to Almost Darwyn Cooke’s Blog Darwyn is scheduled to discuss his graphic adaptation of The Hunter at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on Saturday January 30, 2010 starting at 4 PM. Mr. Westlake, I’m sure would be pleased to see such an enthusiastic reception of his classic character of crime fiction from all corners.
For more about the event see Calum Johnston’s Almost Darwyn Cooke’s Blog or check the event listing on the Smithsonian website.
For more about Darwyn’s graphic adaptation of The Hunter check out his publisher’s website at www.idwpublishing.com.
And . . .
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Good news from the world of publishing isn’t easy to come by, so a new outlet for Midwestern writers of literary fiction is a welcome development. Thus we tip our collective hats to our good friends at Northern Illinois University Press and their new imprint Switchgrass Books, which debuts with Season of Water and Ice by Michigan writer Donald Lystra and Beautiful Piece by Joseph G. Peterson, who we are pleased to count a colleague here at the Press.
Set somewhere in Chicago during the 1995 Chicago heat wave, Peterson’s noirish novel is the gritty, hallucinatory story of a risky relationship and its inevitable, chilling climax. Meanwhile, Lystra’s book tracks the life of young Danny DeWitt and his father as they struggle with issues of love and family in rural northern Michigan in the 1950’s. Set side by side Switchgrass’s inaugural releases represent the rich diversity of the Midwestern literary landscape and the hidden talent lurking there.
To find out more about Switchgrass books navigate to their website or listen to this recent interview with NIU press director Alex Schwartz talking about the new imprint and it’s first two releases on Chicago Public Radio’s Eight Forty-Eight.
Our warm congratulations.
. . .
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According to the New York Times, Donald Westlake was “one of the most successful and versatile mystery writers in the United States,” with over 100 books to his name. The University of Chicago Press has embarked on a project to return the early volumes of his Parker series, written under the pseudonym Richard Stark, to print for a new generation of readers to discover—and become addicted to. These reprints will feature volumes 1-16 of the incredible series, through Butcher’s Moon.
Stark’s ruthless antihero is one of the most unforgettable characters in hardboiled noir. Lauded by critics for his taut realism, unapologetic amorality, and razor-sharp prose-style—and adored by fans who turn each intoxicating page with increasing urgency—Richard Stark is a master of crime writing, his books as influential as any in the genre.
Read the press release, and read this interview with the author.
Also see our complete list of books currently available in the series.
. . .
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A cold blooded, merciless, professional killer that would make even Superman soil his tights invaded this year’s Comic-Con. As we’ve previously noted, the ruthless antihero of Donald Westlake aka Richard Stark’s series of mystery novels, known only as Parker, is making his graphic novel debut in an adaptation of Stark’s 1962 novel The Hunter, produced by illustrator Darwyn Cooke and San Diego book editor Scott Dunbier. As the Chicago Tribune‘s Geoff Boucher reports in his review of the novel for last Wednesday’s paper:
adaptation is already being hailed as a masterpiece by key tastemakers in the comics world, and last week it met the public as Cooke and Dunbier took it to Comic-Con International in San Diego, the massive pop-culture expo that is a sort of Cannes for capes or a Sundance for sci-fi.
And in a laudatory article on the new adaptation in today’s New York Times contributor George Gene Gustines writes:
Mr. Cooke depicts his characters with such emotion and conveys so much with gesture and composition that, except for the specifics of the hijacking, you could almost follow the story by the images alone. And when the words and graphics are in harmony, the effect . . .
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