I read Charles Yu’s Sorry Please Thank You, which I picked up after two of his other books made my 2014 favorites list. The opener “Standard Loneliness Package”, is one of the best in the book (a somewhat different version is online)…

Some genius in Delhi had figured out a transfer protocol to standardize and packetize all different kinds of experiences. Overnight, everything changed. An industry was born. The business of bad feeling. For the right price, almost any part of life could be avoided.

”Troubleshooting” and “Open” are other good examples of what you’re in for: short stories that are a little bit wistful or cynical, a little bit of comic exasperation, and a sort of tech- and/or scifi bent to them. Most of them work with a brain-teaser/experimental premise, but don’t feel as emotionally compelling as his earlier stuff. Third Class Superhero and How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe are definitely worthwhile, though. If you like those first, you’ll probably enjoy this, too.

I read Amy Hempel’s Tumble Home. The title novella didn’t do much for me, but the short stories were so crisp and weird and vivid. From page 21, one of my favorite images of the year: “the halved-apple faces of owls”. Short and sweet.

Two New Books About Jorge Luis Borges : The New Yorker

Borges’s fictional universe is relentlessly, oppressively male. He wrote very few female characters, and there is a vision of masculinity—violent, fearless, austere—that exists in his work as a counterpoint to its obsessive bookishness, and neither ideal has much room for the presence of women, writers or otherwise. His abstraction meant, among other things, a removal from the heat and chaos of human relationships. There is very little love in his work, very little emotional intensity; its richness and complexity is that of philosophical problems, of theology and ontology, not of human relationships.

Two New Books About Jorge Luis Borges : The New Yorker

School buses lined his block every morning, like vast tipped orange-juice cartons spilling out the human vitamin of youthful lunacy.

An excerpt from the story “The Dystopianist” in Jonathan Lethem’s very good book, Men and Cartoons. It’s worth seeking out even if you only read “The Spray”–amazing story.

Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him.

From Borges’ short story Borges and I, which, even though it’s so short, I’ve tumbled before. My reading of his work has been scattered (I picked up a few different collections to fix that), but it almost always hurts my brain in a good way. For the volume of imagination and inventiveness and ideas in such efficient form, I remain convinced that the right Borges at the right time can be more worthwhile than entire literature classes.

Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him.

From Borges’ short story Borges and I, which, even though it’s so short, I’ve tumbled before. My reading of his work has been scattered (I picked up a few different collections to fix that), but it almost always hurts my brain in a good way. For the volume of imagination and inventiveness and ideas in such efficient form, I remain convinced that the right Borges at the right time can more worthwhile than entire literature classes.

The line between the reality that is photographed because it seems beautiful to us and the reality that seems beautiful because it has been photographed is very narrow. […] The minute you start saying something, “Ah, how beautiful! We must photograph it!” you are already close to the view of the person who thinks that everything that is not photographed is lost, as if it had never existed, and that therefore, in order really to live, you must photograph as much as you can, and to photograph as much as you can you must either live in the most photographable way possible, or else consider photographable every moment of your life. The first course leads to stupidity; the second to madness.

Italo Calvino in his short story The Adventure of a Photographer. Also: “the life that you live in order to photograph it is already, at the outset, a commemoration of itself.”

The line between the reality that is photographed because it seems beautiful to us and the reality that seems beautiful because it has been photographed is very narrow. […] The minute you start saying something, “Ah, how beautiful! We must photograph it!” you are already close to the view of the person who thinks that everything that is not photographed is lost, as if it had never existed, and that therefore, in order really to live, you must photograph as much as you can, and to photograph as much as you can you must either live in the most photographable way possible, or else consider photographable every moment of your life. The first course leads to stupidity; the second to madness.

Italo Calvino in his short story The Adventure of a Photographer. Also: “the life that you live in order to photograph it is already, at the outset, a commemoration of itself.”