The Atlantic's Best Books of the Year

I guess I can avoid having a public meltdown on Twitter now that my book is an Atlantic staff pick of 2014!


Associate editor Bourree Lam wrote the most amazing review:

How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun? by Doretta Lau
One reason I’m endeared to Canadian author Doretta Lau’s debut collection of twelve short stories is that all her cultural references are my own: touchstones of the aughts intellectual urbanite. An appreciation for the photographs of Jeff Wall. Wanting to watch Wong Kar Wai movies all night. Fugazi. The desire to date dead men (although I probably wouldn’t pick pianist Glenn Gould if I could choose from all of human history). Lau has the same uncanny talent as Banana Yoshimoto; the ability to turn a mundane day into a magical and meaningful one.
Lau’s offbeat stories document the follies and triumphs of youth via remarkably self-aware characters. Her cast includes competitive eaters struggling with romantic relationships, a sitcom actress in debt working at a funeral home, a screenwriter in mourning, and a photographer who accidentally auditions for a pornographic movie. My favorite is the young woman who starts receiving text messages from her neurotic future self, when mankind invents communicative time travel.
Stories about young, lost souls often make me cringe when they’re filled with unforgiving accuracy or indefinite nihilism. But Lau’s stories are optimistic and inventive; they feel like hindsight making sense and purpose of a confusing time. Part of the appeal is that when most of us become adults, our lives are structured around work, obligations, and sleep. There’s a lurking fantasy that living an unstructured life would make us less financially able, but free to pursue our passions—which would make everything less boring. Lau’s characters are never restrained by these daily rituals. They’re stories of people living unconventionally, but feeling the struggles of life and love nonetheless. These are stories of love almost lost, and losers almost winning. And when it's over, even if they don't get what they want, at least they leave knowing what it is.