A teacher once told me that we all want/need our offspring to be brighter, faster, and better looking than we are ourselves. It hadn't occurred to me to want any of these - I was content to make it to sleeping-through-the-night and staying healthy. But in an evolutionary light, he is, of course, right.
In the same way, I believe it is important for writers to continuously stimulate and challenge ourselves as readers. Because we all want to get better, don't we; we want the next book to be better than the last. Stagnation does no good for the writer or her readers, or the literature project in general.
Necessary Fiction is a webjournal which, along with one story each Wednesday, research and translation notes, and a writer in residence, publishes book reviews. At NF, they're 'interested in reviewing fiction from independent publishers, with a moderate emphasis on short story collections, novellas and translations.' I'm lucky enough to occasionally contribute to the latter, and one of the perks is receiving the kind of wonderful stuff I might not be able to pick up in my local bookshops. Bess, a chapbook by Daphne Gottlieb, was one such read, and my review is up today.
But the best bit is the five other reviews - commissioned by review editor Michelle Bailat Jones, a woman who knows where to get the good stuff - among which I'm likely to find my next outside-the-mainstream read.
After that, nothing remains but to BE one of those reviewed books (or at the very least, a Wednesday story...)