At my high school, there was an English teacher with a huge black banner on the wall of his classroom that said, “BE UNCOMFORTABLE,” in thick white font. When I first saw it, I was thirteen and afraid of everything and I figured he must be a jerk. Now, I realize the value of being uncomfortable.

 

Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever is the first short fiction collection of the great contemporary writer, Justin Taylor. Many of its stories remind me of those bold white words; Taylor’s writing takes on the awkward and absurd with panache. When I finished reading the collection, I had the discomfort you feel when you’re sure the person sitting next to you in the waiting room at the doctor’s office is reading what you write on the pre-appointment paperwork you have to fill out EVERY TIME you go in. And since I’ve resolved to revel in such discomfort, I kicked off this break reading Taylor’s first novel, The Gospel of Anarchy. It’s a strange and humid story I’d recommend to anyone who’s ever been a little voyeuristic on the subway.

 

The remainder of my winter break reading list:

Eyrie—Tim Winton

Museum of Accidents—Rachel Zucker

The Morning of the Poem—James Schuyler

Heaven’s Coast—Mark Doty

Fire to Fire—Mark Doty

Essays in Love—Alain de Botton

Black Aperture—Matt Rasmussen

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