The 3 Hot Debuts Authors You *Need* to Read RN
If you’ve heard the phrase “beginner’s luck” before, you know it’s not just for poker; there’s something to be said for maturity, but sometimes an artist’s first work is a wonder to behold. After all, they’ve spent their whole lives until publishing preparing for it. That being said, none of the debut authors in this week’s book club are complete neophytes: one has a long list of renowned short fiction, one’s a richly awarded journalist and one’s a historian helping us discover buried literary treasure. So read on for a collection of stories, a compelling coming-of-age tale and an argument for casting the spotlight on some nearly forgotten women. You’ll have some beginner’s luck yourself if you pick up one of these three new books.
1. We Show What We Have Learned and Other Stories by Clare Beams ($12): Columbia MFA grad Beams has published her short stories in many places, such as Willow Springs, Best American Nonrequired Reading and One Story; a finalist for Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize, she’s just published her first complete collection of stories, and what a powerhouse it is. Beams’ stories promise to deal with the extraordinary and transformative, at once whimsical and human. Detailed, inventive and emotionally rich, the stories find the strange in the ordinary (and vice versa) and range from the historical to the modern.
In her varied tales, a young woman in London becomes fascinated with her sister’s husband during the Great Plague; an elementary school teacher comes apart at the seams before her terrified class: “We would wonder, ever after, what caused it: the force of the bottled-up, forbidden words we were calling forth or the hammering blows of the humiliation we were delivering.“ Another woman returns to the family vacation spot with her grandmother to prove her worth after a breakup and finds her irrevocably changed by the experience. An architect is altered by an all-encompassing, difficult project; a class of women is altered by their boarding school’s standards of beauty.
Beams has been lauded by authors such as Chang-Rae Lee and Joyce Carol Oates, who likens her style to a wickedly feminist collaboration between Alice Munro and Shirley Jackson. Other hallowed names invoked include Margaret Atwood and Stephen King, but Beams is no copycat; with this debut collection, she proves she has a style all her own.
2. Teethmarks on My Tongue by Eileen Battersby ($13): Eileen Battersby, the literary correspondent for the Irish Times, was Ireland’s National Critic of the Year in 2012, and has been National Arts Journalist of the Year an impressive four times. She’s released two books of criticism and non-fiction, and now her debut novel is poised to take on the world. Other critics are particularly impressed with her singular narrator, Helen Stockton Defoe, who comes of age with deadpan perception and a darkly comic viewpoint.
In Teethmarks on My Tongue, Helen feels separated from most of life’s connections; her mother is brutally, shockingly murdered on the street by a gunman, and her father distances himself; she sports a distinctive physical feature that emphasizes her internal differences. Helen exploits her otherwise privileged world and lives a rich interior life, studying arts and sciences and observing the people around her. She hopes to connect with her father, but when he rejects everything she stands for, she rejects his world, in turn, escaping to Europe, where the potential dangers she encounters are ameliorated by a renewed ability to feel.
Now Battersby finds herself in the critical spotlight, and it seems the critic has finely honed her own writing abilities. Kirkus calls Teethmarks, “A perceptive, keenly intelligent bildungsroman, well marbled with dark humor, about inhabiting one’s own life, body, and emotions despite upbringing and uncertainty.” As her character comes of age, Battersby comes into her own.
3. Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature by Shelley DeWees ($16): “Wild and extraordinary stories often have completely ordinary beginnings, and this one, the story of how I became obsessed with seven British women, is no different.” In historian DeWees’ debut book, she takes us beyond everyone’s favorite 18th-century female British novelist, Jane Austen, to show us how a group of her contemporaries is equally sharp, witty and worthy of our attention. They may not have dozens of movie adaptations, DeWees argues, but it might make sense (and sensibility) if they did. Pulling together historical, biographical and literary information, she expands the encyclopedia of subversive female writers of the era much farther than A to B (Austen to Brontë).
Britain’s changing landscape in the Victorian era included the burgeoning publishing industry, which encouraged many women to try their luck at writing. The writers DeWees profiles were not just debut novelists, they began entire fields of literature; among them were the progenitors of modern fantasy and detective novels, and all were successful in their own time. However, like many women’s achievements, most of them have been overlooked in modern society. DeWees’ portrayal of Charlotte Turner Smith, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Catherine Crowe, Sara Coleridge, Dinah Mulock Craik and Mary Elizabeth Braddon is unsparing and unsentimental, but seeks to be as entertaining as the novels it describes.
Laurel Anne Nattress, the editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, calls DeWees “the Indiana Jones of literary archeology,” and Lyndsey Faye, (author of another book club selection, Jane Steele), says “It’s a moving and heartfelt tribute to seven forgotten literary foremothers whose works were widely admired and just as widely consigned to moldering oblivion.” You might want to make room on your bookshelf for the works of these seven trailblazers after you’re done reading this hot debut, which questions and expands the notion of canon and memory, reducing the old assumptions to just a lot of pride and prejudice.
What first books are your favorites? Tag us in your next fresh read @BritandCo.
(Featured photo via Getty)
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com