I’m not going to limit myself entirely to things from this year because a) I cant find that many things I liked, and b) those lists tend to hold the present in dubiously high esteem. Nor am I aiming to be other than piecemeal here. This is just what’s coming to me today. 

1. Two movies (that didn’t come out this year) that I liked:

I find film in particular pretty disappointing these days. Even the buzzy ones by David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky, and Christopher Nolan make me think today’s directors only know how to make one kind of film. They’re like the dancer in Black Swan - rigorously controlled and technically perfect, but without spontaneity, freedom, or surprise. 

But I really liked some older movies I saw for the first time this year, especially…

Zulawski: Possession
Very extreme, high-strung performances from Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill. Every scene is pitched at peak intensity. This movie goes for broke and often verges on ecstatic silliness. I was awestruck.

Meyer: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
What I liked was Meyer’s editing. Some scenes, like the nightmarish party sequence near the beginning where everything seems cut too early and too curtly, the soundtrack and the image always at odds, have a randy poetry to them. And there’s a pretty funny script, courtesy Roger Ebert. 


2. Some music I liked, or kind of liked, (from this year) this year:

I can’t claim to have had much of an overview this year; I didn’t go out of my way to listen to stuff like I have in other years, so my listening was spotty at best. Even the stuff I did like, I had reservations about. That being said…

Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest
90% homage, but really nice and under-thought-out, compulsively made 4AD action.

James Blake: CMYK EP 
Actually, all of his EPs are pretty good, and not just the three or four from this year. I listened to this one the most, Klavierwerke right behind it. Forward thinking R&B, dance floor compatible but yearning to be headphoned.

Mark Fell: Multistability
I used to listen to a lot of “experimental” music, computer music, including stuff by a group called SND. This is the guy behind that outfit. I couldn’t listen to large doses of this but I thought it was pretty nice in bits. A lot of play with rhythm and timbre, which is lovely; almost none with chords - you get one per piece, which can be grating. I like these albums that do one particular thing and really get in there and dig around in it.

Janelle Monae: Archandroid
Very poppy stuff, nice clean production and album flow, stylistically all over the place - too all over the place. There are a few good dance / easy listening tracks and one song, Make the Bus, that seems to have come straight off an unreleased Of Montreal album (what did Janelle Monae have to do with it? Does she even sing on it? Maybe just a phrase or two?). 

Autechre: Oversteps
Not the best Autechre album, I don’t think. But they’re in a class of their own and everything they do should be given thorough attention. See on See alone is enough of a track to make it worthwhile.


Oneohtrix Point Never: Returnal
There’s nothing particularly wrong with this album. I like having it on, actually. But comparisons to Aphex Twin, Klaus Schulze, and Tangerine Dream overstate the case. On this album, he’s basically layering a bunch of synths into a nice thick carpet. It’s not exactly news from the future. 


3. The books (from any year) I liked most this year:

Milan Kundera: Testaments Betrayed
I read all of Milan Kundera’s essay books this year. This one was my favorite, probably because I read it first. His enthusiasm for the likes of Kafka, Sterne, Musil, Rabelais, Gombrowicz, Diderot, etc, is contagious and propelled my reading for most of the year. 

Witold Gombrowicz: Ferdydurke
See above. I hadn’t heard of Gombrowicz before reading about him in the Kundera books. If you ask him, Gombrowicz is a master on par with other far better known twentieth century writers. The book has a very loose, freewheeling structure. The narrator breaks in every so often to tell you so, and there’s an essay of novelistic form somewhere in the first half of the book. The story - if that’s what you call it - concerns a man whose age is mistaken and who is put into a school with a bunch of younger students where he worries about descending to their level of stupidity. (A lot of the book has to do with people’s stupidity.) It ends with a whirlwind courtship and marriage that seems to take place outside of time and place, ambivalent to say the least, but also fond and lighthearted. It’s not exactly love, it’s more like mutual entrapment, but it’s maybe something close to happiness, who knows. 

Dave Hickey: Air Guitar
A deservedly famous book of essays about art, the art business, and things that fall broadly under the heading of culture (Liberace, Las Vegas, the Rolling Stones, Siegfried & Roy). Reminds you that interest should come first, whether the object be “art” or not, rather than the other way around. In fact, that might be the only way to save art from itself.

Andre Breton: Nadja
A haunting little book from one of the fathers of surrealism about art and a love affair and a woman whose craziness made her, for Breton, special, beautiful.  

Jack Flam: Matisse and Picasso
Jack Flam puts the work at the center of this biography of a friendship, showing how the two artists, radially opposite in character, counted on each other for inspiration, support, and rivalry throughout their careers. Flam’s analysis of individual paintings is excellent but, in the end, the thing I might have liked best about the book was the little snatches of dialogue that reportedly passed between them, or the quotes people took down that show the mutual regard they had for each other. The book is genuinely moving, but in an understated way - more so for that. 

Denis Johnson: Jesus’ Son
Yes, I know I’m the last person to read and applaud this collection of stories but better late than never. These stories are as exciting for their structure as for their gritty content. They are headlong horror stories, very linear, and they often turn abruptly. I went on to read Tree of Smoke, and didn’t like it much at all. 

John Cheever: Journals
I love it when writers I didn’t think I needed to read suddenly become important to me. Not only does Cheever just plain write well at all times, in these journals he says a lot of stuff about aging and disenchantment that cut to the quick. Very affecting. But there’s a lot more than that. I didn’t think it was going to keep me reading as much as it did, but these journals are as writerly as you’re ever going to find journals. 


4. Miscellaneous…

Matthew Collings’s Diary. (See this post.)

Thomas Nozkowski

If anything, besides having a lot of money, could make me an art collector, it would be paintings like those by Thomas Nozkowski. They’re exactly what makes people collect: uniquely different but within a fixed set of parameters. They look good individually but work best, I imagine, in groups. Each is playful in an off-hand way, belying Nozkowski’s way of working:

"It’s very hard to maintain a certain pitch when you have to do a lot of busy work. So when I made that switch to small canvases, I was suddenly able to do anything. To take the most capricious idea and do it in a minute. What about pink? If it doesn’t work, wipe it off and do something else. Serendipitously, I discovered all kinds of stuff that I never would have come to otherwise, that intellectually would have made for a much longer, slower and harder process on the larger canvases."

Looking at paintings like the ones above made me feel less despairing about art, although it’s never been painting that was a source of despair for me. The problem is lack of interest and lack of pleasure. People act like those things aren’t necessary right now, but I like those things, I think they’re important. Anyway, Thomas Nozkowski’s paintings have those things going for them - they’re interesting and they give pleasure. It’s about color, the finding of a thing you didn’t start out with, latent or subverted form. Really noodly and beautiful stuff.


I’m not much of a gamer so my experience is limited, but I don’t think it’s very often that you find yourself admiring the beauty of a land formation or the way the sun rises over the hills in a game, and I did that many times playing Minecraft. I bought it for ten bucks when it was still in alpha (it’s since gone into beta) and, what can I say, that was money very well spent considering all the fun I had playing it. It’s a sandbox game (meaning, you make your own rules) that encourages creativity the way a lego set does. Some people take on massive architectural projects, others use it like a railroad kit, some people just explore the limitless terrain, digging down into underground caves and mining resources, and some people just fight monsters. I was bowled over by the design of this game (the work of one guy) and, as I said, by the randomly generated terrain. I don’t think anything else impressed me as much this year. 

These are probably the best two advertisements for it…

Nothing I saw this year was a real knock-down experience, frankly, and I like all of the below listed with some reservations. The most exciting things I saw this year were …not from this year. And I still haven’t seen some films that I think I might like and some that are making a lot of lists (Me and Orson Welles, Up in the Air, A Serious Man, Bright Star, Fantastic Mr Fox). But here are five that I liked…

Herzog: Bad Lieutenant
Almodovar: Broken Embraces
Kelly: The Box
Tarantino: Inglorious Basterds
Cutler: The September Issue


Von Trier: Antichrist
Mann: Public Enemies

Most overrated…

Gilroy: Duplicity
Jonze: Where the Wild Things Are

December 25: Okay, here’s what I liked most or listened to most this year - a group of eight and five also-rans.

Micachu and the Shapes: Jewellery
Gaeoudjiparl: The Official Mort Aux Vaches Ekstra Extra Walkthrough
Broadcast and The Focus Group: Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age
Madlib: Beat Konducta Vol. 5-6 A Tribute to…
Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Black Dice: Repo
Ikue Mori: Class Insecta
Lily Allen: It’s Not Me, It’s You


Vladislav Delay: Tummaa
Jono El Grande: Neo Dada
Circulatory System: Signal Morning
Voks: Astra & Knyst
Edward Williams: Music from the BBC tv series LIfe On Earth

from June 29: The year is already half finished and my favorite albums list is beginning to take shape. More than ever it’s really hit me that, with so many albums out there and lists so dependent on that smattering of them you’ve heard, talking about the “best” is kind of a laughable idea. Your list, more and more, is going to be as unique to you as a strand of your DNA. So personal “favorites” it is. I’m going to update this as the year goes on, though some of these are as good as carved in stone, for whatever that’s worth, and I’ll be writing some of them up in time. This year, it’s the non-pop albums that have been exciting me. Dirty Projectors…hmmm. I’m pretty sure it’d be a loyalty vote if I put them on here right now. And Spunk is barely holding on for the same reason. We’ll see.

Personal Author Constellation, 2009.

Quintessential blogging today. It’s a pretty standard assortment, isn’t it? No far-flung Herta Muellers, no sportive Dan Browns. It’s much like the Modern Library’s author constellation. But what can I say - these are the authors that I read and admired most this year. Much like last year, probably much like next year. Honourable mentions to Waugh and Capote, both of which authors I read for the first time this year and also got pretty into.

Author Reading Lists (ongoing)

I love reading lists - any kind of list actually - and compulsively make them myself. Here are a few of the author reading lists that I’ve found so far and sometimes refer to when I need a recommendation. If anyone knows of other author lists, please send them to me. I’d love to see them and and add them to this post.

Jorge Luis Borges

The Library of Babel

  1. Jack London, The Concentric Deaths
  2. Jorge Luis Borges, August 25 1983
  3. Gustav Meyrink, Cardinal Napellus
  4. Léon Bloy, Discourteous Tales
  5. Giovanni Papini, The Escaping Mirror
  6. Oscar Wilde, The Crime of Lord Arthur Savile
  7. Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, The Guest at the Last Banquet
  8. Pedro de Alarcón, The Friend of Death
  9. Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener
  10. William Beckford, Vathek
  11. H. G. Wells, The Door in the Wall
  12. P’u Sung-Ling, The Tiger Guest
  13. Arthur Machen, The Shining Pyramid
  14. Robert Louis Stevenson, The Island of the Voices
  15. G. K. Chesterton, The Eye of Apollo
  16. Jacques Cazotte, The Devil in Love
  17. Franz Kafka, The Vulture
  18. Edgar Allan Poe, The Purloined Letter
  19. Leopoldo Lugones, The Statue of Salt
  20. Rudyard Kipling, The House of Desires
  21. The Thousand and One Nights, according to Galland
  22. The Thousand and One Nights, according to Burton
  23. Henry James, The Friends of Friends
  24. Voltaire, Micromegas
  25. Charles H.Hinton, Scientific Romances
  26. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Great Stone Face
  27. Lord Dunsany, The Country of Yann
  28. Saki, The Reticence of Lady Anne
  29. Russian Tales
  30. Argentine Tales
  31. J. L. Borges & A. Bioy Casares, New Stories of Bustos Domecq
  32. Jorge Luis Borges, The Book of Dreams
  33. Jorge Luis Borges, Borges A/Z

A Personal Library

  1. Julio Cortázar, Stories
  2. & 3. The Apocryphal Gospels
  3. Franz Kafka, Amerika; Short Stories
  4. G. K. Chesterton, The Blue Cross and Other Stories
  5. & 7. Wilkie Collins, Moonstone
  6. Maurice Maeterlink, The Intelligence of Flowers
  7. Dino Buzzati, The Desert of the Tartars
  8. Henrik Ibsen, Peer Gynt; Hedda Gabler
  9. J. M. Eça de Queiroz, The Mandarin
  10. Leopoldo Lugones, The Jesuit Empire
  11. André Gide, The Counterfeiters
  12. H. G. Wells, The Time Machine; The Invisible Man
  13. Robert Graves, The Greek Myths
  14. & 17. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Demons
  15. E. Kasner & J. Newman, Mathematics and the Imagination
  16. Eugene O’Neill, The Great God Brown; Strange Interlude; Mourning Becomes Electra
  17. Ariwara no Narihara, Tales of Ise
  18. Herman Melville, Benito Cereno; Billy Budd; Bartleby the Scrivener
  19. Giovanni Papini, The Tragic Everyday; The Blind Pilot; Words and Blood
  20. Arthur Machen, The Three Imposters
  21. Fray Luis de León, tr., The Song of Songs
  22. Fray Luis de León, An Explanation of the Book of Job
  23. Joseph Conrad, The End of the Tether; Heart of Darkness
  24. Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  25. Oscar Wilde, Essays and Dialogues
  26. Henri Michaux, A Barbarian in Asia
  27. Hermann Hesse, The Bead Game
  28. Arnold Bennett, Buried Alive
  29. Claudius Elianus, On the Nature of Animals
  30. Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class
  31. Gustave Flaubert, The Temptation of St. Anthony
  32. Marco Polo, Travels
  33. Marcel Schwob, Imaginary Lives
  34. George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra; Major Barbara; Candide
  35. Francisco de Quevedo, Marcus Brutus; The Hour of All
  36. Eden Phillpots, The Red Redmaynes
  37. Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling
  38. Gustav Meyrink, The Golem
  39. Henry James, The Lesson of the Master; The Figure in the Carpet; The Private Life
  40. & 44. Herodotus, The Nine Books of History
  41. Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo
  42. Rudyard Kipling, Tales
  43. William Beckford, Vathek
  44. Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders
  45. Jean Cocteau, The Professional Secret and Other Texts
  46. Thomas De Quincey, The Last Days of Emmanuel Kant and Other Stories
  47. Ramón Gómez de la Serna, Prologue to the Work of Silverio Lanza
  48. The Thousand and One Nights
  49. Robert Louis Stevenson, New Arabian Nights; Markheim
  50. Léon Bloy, Salvation for the Jews; The Blood of the Poor; In the Darkness
  51. The Bhagavad-Gita; The Epic of Gilgamesh
  52. Juan José Arreola, Fantastic Stories
  53. David Garnett, Lady Into Fox; A Man in the Zoo; The Sailor’s Return
  54. Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
  55. Paul Groussac, Literary Criticism
  56. Manuel Mujica Láinez, The Idols
  57. Juan Ruíz, The Book of Good Love
  58. William Blake, Complete Poetry
  59. Hugh Walpole, Above the Dark Circus
  60. Ezequiel Martinez Estrada, Poetical Works
  61. Edgar Allan Poe, Tales
  62. Virgil, The Aeneid
  63. Voltaire, Stories
  64. J. W. Dunne, An Experiment with Time
  65. Atilio Momigliano, An Essay on Orlando Furioso
  66. & 71. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience; The Study of Human Nature
  67. Snorri Sturluson, Egil’s Saga
  68. The Book of the Dead
  69. & 75. J. Alexander Gunn, The Problem of Time

Jane Smiley

  • Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji
  • Author unknown, The Saga of the People of Laxardal
  • Snorri Sturluson, Egil’s Saga
  • Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron
  • Marguerite de Navarre, The Heptameron
  • Anonymous, Lazarillo de Tormes
  • Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, vols. 1 and 2
  • Madame de Lafayette, The Princess of Cleves
  • Aphra Behn, Oroonoko
  • Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, Roxana
  • Samuel Richardson, Pamela
  • Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
  • Charlotte Lennox, The Female Quixote
  • Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
  • Voltaire, Candide
  • Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
  • Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
  • The Marquis de Sade, Justine
  • Sir Walter Scott, The Tale of Old Mortality, The Bride of the Lammermoor
  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
  • Jane Austen, Persuasion
  • James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
  • Stendhal, The Red and the Black
  • Nicolai Gogol, Taras Bulba
  • Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time
  • Honore de Balzac, Cousin Pons and Cousin Bette
  • Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
  • Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
  • William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, or the Whale
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables
  • Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
  • Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
  • Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White, The Moonstone
  • Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
  • Emile Zola, Therese Raquin
  • Anthony Trollope, The Last Chronicle of Barset , The Eustace Diamonds
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot
  • Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch
  • Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
  • Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady , The Awkward Age
  • Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Bram Stoker, Dracula
  • Kate Chopin, The Awakening
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  • Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth
  • Max Beerbohm, The Illustrated Zuleika Dobson, or an Oxford Love Story
  • Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
  • Sinclair Lewis, Main Street
  • Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter, volume I, The Wreath
  • James Joyce, Ulysses
  • Italo Svevo, Zeno’s Conscience
  • E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
  • Franz Kafka, The Trial
  • Hermann Broch, The Sleepwalkers
  • Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time
  • D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover
  • Virginia Woolf, Orlando
  • William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
  • Robert Musil, The Man without Qualities, volume 1
  • Mikhail Sholokhov, And Quiet flows the Don
  • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart
  • P.G. Wodehouse, The Return of Jeeves, Bertie Wooster Sees it Through, Spring Fever, The Butler Did It
  • T.H. White, The Once and Future King
  • Christina Stead, The Man Who Loved Children
  • Junichiro Tanizaki, The Makioka Sisters
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita
  • Rebecca West, The Fountain Overflows
  • Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love, Love in a Cold Climate, Don’t Tell Alfred
  • Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Jetta Carleton, The Moonflower Vine
  • Yukio Mishima, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
  • Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
  • John Gardner, Grendel
  • Alice Munro, Lives of Girls and Women
  • Naguib Mahfouz, The Harafish
  • Iris Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea
  • David Lodge, How Far Can You Go?
  • Muriel Spark, Loitering With Intent
  • Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
  • Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John
  • J.M. Coetzee, Foe
  • Toni Morrison, Beloved
  • A.S. Byatt, Possession
  • Nicholson Baker, Vox
  • Garrison Keillor, WLT: A Radio Romance
  • Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum
  • Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance
  • Francine Prose, Guided Tours of Hell
  • Chang-rae Lee, A Gesture Life
  • Arnost Lustig, Lovely Green Eyes
  • Zadie Smith, White Teeth
  • John Updike, The Complete Henry Bech
  • Ian McEwan, Atonement
  • Jennifer Egan, Look at Me

  • Donald Barthelme

    Flann O’Brien, At Swim Two-Birds
    Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman
    Isaac Babel, Collected Short Stories
    Borges, Labyrinths
    Borges, Other Inquisitions
    Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
    Thomas Bernhard, Correction
    Rudy Wurlitzer, Nog
    Isaac B Singer, Gimpel the Fool
    Bernard Malamud, The Assistant
    Bernard Malamud, The Magic Barrel
    Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
    Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano
    Samuel Beckett entire
    Knut Hamsun, Hunger
    Max Frisch, I’m Not Stiller
    Max Frisch, Man in the Holocene
    Dinesen, Seven Gothic Tales
    Tommaso Landolfi, Gogol’s Wife
    Thomas Pynchon, V
    John Hawkes, The Lime Twig
    John Hawkes, Blood Oranges
    Paley, Little Disturbances
    Paley, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
    Susan Sontag, I, Etc.
    Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle
    Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces
    Bellow, Henderson the Rain King
    John Updike, The Coup
    John Updike, Rabbit, Run
    The Paris Review interviews
    Rust Hills (ed.), How We Live
    Joe David Bellamy (ed.), Superfiction
    Puschart Prize Anthologies
    Sternburg (ed.), The Writer on Her Work
    André Breton, Manifestos of Surrealism
    Motherwell (ed.), Documents of Modern Art
    Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation
    Hugh Kenner, A Homemade World
    Flaubert, Letters
    Mamet, Sexual Perversity in Chicago
    Joy Williams, The Changeling
    Joe David Bellamy (ed.), The New Fiction
    Tim O’Brien, Going After Cacciato
    Amos Tutola, The Palm-Wine Drunkard
    Ann Tyler, Searching for Caleb
    Kenneth Koch, Thank You
    Frank O’Hara, Collected Poems
    John Ashbery, Rivers and Mountains
    Wesley Brown, Tragic Magic
    Roland Barthes, Mythologies
    Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text
    Robbe-Grillet, For a New Novel
    Ann Beattie, Falling in Place
    William Gass, In the Heart of the Heart of the Country
    Gass, Fiction and the Figures of Life
    Gass, The World Within the Word
    Mailer, Advertisements for Myself
    Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
    Celine, Journey to the End of the Night
    Kobo Abe, The Box Man
    Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
    Peter Handke, A Sorrow Beyond Dreams
    Peter Handke, Kaspar and Other Plays
    André Breton, Nadja
    John Barth, Chimera
    Walker Percy, The Moviegoer
    Jayne Anne Phillips, Black Tickets
    Peter Taylor, Collected Stories
    Colette, The Pure and the Impure
    Carver, Will You Please be Quiet, Please
    John Cheever, Collected Stories
    Leonard Michaels, I Would Have Saved Them if I Could
    Eudora Welty, Collected Stories
    Max Apple, The Oranging of America
    Flannery O’Connor, Collected Stories
    Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo
    Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
    Carlos Fuentes, The Death of Artemio Cruz
    Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
    Wayne C Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction

    David Foster Wallace

    1. The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis

    2. The Stand, by Stephen King

    3. Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris

    4. The Thin Red Line, by James Jones

    5. Fear of Flying, by Erica Jong

    6. The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris

    7. Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein

    8. Fuzz, by Ed McBain

    9. Alligator, by Shelley Katz

    10. The Sum of All Fears, by Tom Clancy

    …and elsewhere, perhaps more seriously, (and more pedantically)…

    “Historically the stuff that’s sort of rung my cherries: Socrates’ funeral oration, the poetry of John Donne, the poetry of Richard Crashaw, every once in a while Shakespeare, although not all that often, Keats’ shorter stuff, Schopenhauer, Descartes’ “Meditations on First Philosophy” and “Discourse on Method,” Kant’s “Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic,” although the translations are all terrible, William James’ “Varieties of Religious Experience,” Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus,” Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” Hemingway—particularly the ital stuff in “In Our Time,” where you just go oomph!, FlanneryO’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, A.S. Byatt, Cynthia Ozick—the stories, especially one called “Levitations,” about 25 percent of the time Pynchon. Donald Barthelme, especially a story called “The Balloon,” which is the first story I ever read that made me want to be a writer, Tobias Wolff, Raymond Carver’s best stuff —the really famous stuff. Steinbeck when he’s not beating his drum, 35 percent of Stephen Crane, “Moby-Dick,” “The Great Gatsby.”

    William T. Vollmann

    Tadeusz Konwicki, A Dreambook for Our Time
    Lady Murasaki, The Tale of Genji
    Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
    Lautreamont, Maldoror
    Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate
    Tolstoy, War and Peace
    Yasunari Kawabata, Snow Country
    Hemingway, Islands in the Stream
    The Poetic Edda
    The tales of Chekhov
    The tales of Hawthorne
    Njal’s Saga
    Sigrid Unset, Kristin Lavransdatter
    Melville, The Piazza Tales
    London, Martin Eden
    Julio Cortazar, Hopscotch
    The poems of Emily Dickinson
    Faulkner, Pylon and The Sound and the Fury
    Homer, the Odyssey and the Iliad
    Nikos Kazantzakis, The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel
    Heidegger, Being and Time
    Poe, The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym
    Pushkin, Eugene Onegin
    Kobo Abe, The Woman in the Dunes
    Blake, Songs of Experience and Experience
    Gyorgi Konrad, The Loser
    Issac B. Singer, The Family Moskas
    Bruno Schultz, The Street of Crocodiles
    Malraux, Anti-Memoirs
    The poems of Lorca
    The poems of Mandelstam
    Ovid’s Metamorphoses
    The tales of D.H. Lawrence
    T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom
    Ivan Ilich, Tools for Conviviality
    Mishima, the Sea of Fertility tetraology
    Kimon Nicolaides, The Natural Way to Draw
    The poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
    Jane Smiley, The Greenlanders

    Saint Passionate


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