16 July 2010

Featuring . . . Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever by Justin Taylor

This Friday and every Friday for the next several months I'll be featuring a book in the Harper Perennial Imprint. Some were recently published, some will be released later this year, all are worth a closer look.

Some of you know that I'm not a huge fan of short stories. So you might be wondering why I'm featuring Justin Taylor's debut collection Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever. Well, a couple of things: First, is this, from The New York Times book review: "Taylor’s real strength is his expertly drawn characters." Vivid characters are almost a sure win for me, so that one sentence caught my attention.

Then I read the Publishers Weekly review: "Each story is spare and clean and speaks the truth in beautiful resonant prose." Oooh. Okay. I'm sold.

Here's the publisher's summary:

Each story in this crystalline, spare, oddly moving collection cuts to the quick. Taylor's characters are guided by delusions and misapprehensions that quickly bring them to impasses with reality. Moving through this collection the reader will meet a young man who has reasoned away certain boundaries in relation to his budding, girl cousin; a high schooler whose desire to win back his crush leads him to experiment with goth magic; a man whose girlfriend is stolen by angels; and a Tetris player who, as the advancing white wall of the Apocalypse slowly churns up his driveway, decides that Death is a kindness.

Fearless and funny, Taylor imagines this and more, in a collection that paints a dark picture of his generation--one that is upwardly mobile yet adrift, fumbling for connection but hopelessly self-involved. And it's all held together by a thread of wounding humor and candid storytelling that marks Taylor as a distinct and emerging literary talent.
Any author who can give me great characters; good, clean writing; and unique situations will make it to my wish list. A search for blogger reviews confirmed my thought that Taylor is a writer to watch (click on the links for the full reviews):
  • From My Books. My Life: "It is not a 'feel good' book. But it is very, very well-written. Taylor writes in sparse language more akin to Hemingway than Dickens but not really like any author I’ve read before."
  • From Bri Meets Book: "Not all of the stories worked for me, but even in those that didn’t, there was a sentence that struck me with its unabashed nature, or beauty."
  • From Good Books and Wine: "Stylistically, Taylor is excellent. The words just seem to flow off the page. This book reminded me a bit of Chuck Palahniuk's writing."
  • From Hipster Book Club: "Everything in Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever may not be the best thing ever, but it’s the best debut fiction in years."
To learn more about Taylor and his work, visit his website.

This book was featured as part of my Spotlight on the Harper Perennial imprint. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. You might also want to visit the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.

Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever at Powell's
Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by HarperCollins / Harper Perennial, February 2010
ISBN-13: 9780061881817


caite 7/16/10, 4:06 PM  

spare and clean..yes, that wins me over too.
and then, I actually like short stories. I have to check this one out.
Darn you...lol

Julie P. 7/16/10, 4:07 PM  

I'm not a big one for short stories either, but occasionally I appreciate them (if I'm in the right mood.)

Jenners 7/16/10, 9:16 PM  

I thought I didn't like short stories either until I read Jhumpa Lahiri and now I'm much more willing to try them.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 7/17/10, 9:13 AM  

I do enjoy short fiction, so I'm glad to be introduced to this new-to-me author!

Beth Hoffman 7/17/10, 10:05 AM  

Up until a few years ago I pretty much ignored short stories, but now I find that they can be a welcome break from full-length novels. This one sounds excellent.

Dorte H 7/17/10, 11:55 AM  

I don´t read short stories for my own pleasure, either, but I may have to consider this author for my students.

Melissa 7/17/10, 12:10 PM  

I am all about short stories. Love, love, love them ... and I love finding new collections by new-to-me authors, as this one is. Thanks for the review ... onto the wish list it goes!

CGLnyc 7/17/10, 10:11 PM  

Thanks for featuring this book and giving a roundup! I love short stories, and I'll need my next fix soon.

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