Nonfiction professor (and book critic for the Los Angeles Times) David Ulin selected his 10 favorite books of 2014 and also took a look back at the year that was in literature:
What was the upshot of my year in reading — the ideas, the through lines that most stirred or provoked me in 2014? The dominant thread was what we might call that of common experience, work that finds significance in incidental things.
Karl Ove Knausgaard has become the poster child for this sort of work; his six-volume autobiographical opus “My Struggle” is all about a deep dive into the mundane. “Over recent years,” he writes toward the end of the second volume, “I had increasingly lost faith in literature. … The only genres I saw value in, which still conferred meaning, were diaries and essays, the type of literature that did not deal with narrative, that were not about anything, but just consisted of a voice, the voice of your own personality, a life, a face, a gaze you could meet.”
Knausgaard’s project — Volume 3 came out in June — seems to signal something vivid about what books and art can do. His purpose is to slow down and use language to reframe the details of a life.
Read more here.