Read Harder

Edited by Ed Park and Heidi Julavits. McSweeney’s/Believer Books, $18 trade paper (294p) ISBN 978-1-940450-18-6
This eclectic, charming collection assembles the best essays published in the Believer between 2009 and 2013. (An earlier volume, Read Hard, collects essays from 2003 to 2008.) While some selections tackle political issues, such as race relations and oppression in Iran, most are on lighter topics; the book includes essays about pop culture and tales of the weird made familiar. Leslie Jamison provides a stellar firsthand account of the treacherous Barkley Marathons, while Paul Collins recounts the curious history of “dashboard phonographs.” Kent Russell’s report from the world of “mithradates”—people who can survive snake bites—evokes both Hunter S. Thompson and This American Life. Full of twists and turns, Rebecca Taylor’s story about her descent into the world of B movies leaves a lasting impression. Other essays touch on Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time novels, V.C. Andrews, Dave Chappelle, and Nelson Algren. Taken as a whole, the collection promotes artists who defy easy categorization. The remarkable story of Ford Beckman, which opens the anthology, exemplifies this theme and shows how the fate of an artist often depends on fickle market forces. To read this book is to open a delightful cabinet of wonders. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/09/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-934781-39-5
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-940450-67-4
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