Friday, July 18, 2008

Favorite Books

This is the quintessential desert island question, and I think I have this one down pat.

Poetry (the old stuff)

Bloom's The Best Poems of the English Language is my favorite anthology;

As for my very favorites canonical poets and poems I will rush by them as most are not very telling: Chaucer (Pardoner's Tale and Wife of Bath's Tale), Dante (The Comedy), Spenser (Faerie Queen), Donne (Holy Sonnet 10 and 14), Marvell (Coy Mistress, The Garden), Milton (Paradise Lost, Lycidas, and Samson Agonistes), Pope (Rape of the Lock, the end of the Dunciad), Blake (The Mental Traveller, Milton, The Crystal Cabinet), Coleridge (Rime, Khan, Christabel), Shelley (Bloom's selections from Epipsychidion, The Triumph of Life, the end of Adonais), Keats (La Belle Dame Sans Merci, the Odes, Hyperion and the Fall of Hyperion), Clare (I Am, A Vision), Beddoes (Dream Pedlary), Whitman (Song, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, When Lilacs Last), Melville (Fragments), Dickinson, Tennyson (Ulysses, In Memoriam), Browning (Last Duchess, Childe Roland), Arnold (Dover Beach), Hopkins (Spring and Fall, I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark), Dante Rossetti (Orchard Pit), Swinburne (Anactoria, August, At Month's End), Bronte (Last Lines), Yeats (Adams Curse), Hardy (Darkling Thrush), Frost (Directive, the Wood Pile, The Road Not Taken, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, The Most of It, For Once Then Something), Stevens (Sunday Morning, Domination of Black, Snow Man, Idea of Order, Poems of Our Climate, Auroras of Autumn, Of Mere Being, Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction), Eliot (Preludes, Prufrock and Sweeny Among the Nightingales, but NOT the Wasteland, and probably not anything else), John Wheelwright (Any Friend to Any Friend) and Hart Crane (At Melville 's Tomb, Voyages, Brooklyn Bridge, Voyages, Repose of Rivers, The Broken Tower).

Poetry (contemporary)

Heaney's Beowulf

John Ashbery -- basically all of it, but especially the more recent stuff including Can You Hear Bird, Girls on the Run, and Your Name Here

Paul Muldoon's Madoc: A Mystery

James Merrill's The Book of Ephriam (the first book of the Changing Light at Sandover)

Mark Strand's The Continuous Life and Eating Poetry (from Reasons for Moving)

Ron Padgett's How to Be Perfect, You Never Know, and Tulsa Kid

James Tate's Selected Poetry, especially List of Famous Hats and Goodtime Jesus

Charles Wright -- all of it.

Criticism and Theory

Bloom's Anxiety of Influence, Map of Misreading, Kabbalah and Criticism, Poetry and Repression, and Ruin the Sacred Truths, Figures of Capable Imagination, The Breaking of the Vessels, Agon, and Wallace Stevens: The Poems of Our Climates.

Richard Rorty's Contingency, Irony, Solidarity

Freud -- basically all of it but especially Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Moses and Monotheism; also the Major Case Studies

Emerson's Major Essays, especially Fate, Self-Reliance, History, The Poet, Experience, The Divinity School Address, Representative Men

Oscar Wilde's The Critic as Artist and the Decay of Lying; also, of course, The Importance of Being Ernest

Walter Pater -- The Renaissance, Appreciations. Really all of it.

Valery's Dance and the Soul

Zizek's Fragile Absolute, The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime, Looking Awry: Zizek is good but repetitive, so his first books may be your favorites.

Ashbery's Other Traditions

McKee's Story

Paglia's Sexual Personae

Perry Meisel's The Cowboy and the Dandy

Booth's Precious Nonsense

Christopher Ricks' Reviewery

Novels and Short Stories

Pynchon's Mason and Dixon and Gravity's Rainbow

Moby Dick

Cormac McCarthy' Blood Meridian
Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca -- NO KIDDING. I LITERALLY could not put this book down. Pulpy and Mesmerizing.

Kafka, especially The Knock at the Manor Gate, The Imperial Message, The Doorkeeper, The Problem of Our Laws, A Parable, and The Cares of a Family Man

Donald Barthelme, especially Snow White, 40 Stories and his non-Fiction

Borges, especially Pierre Menard Author of Don Quixote, the Garden of Forking Paths and my all time favorite The Three Versions of Judas

David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day, and the Christmas stories (including the newer one about the Dutch Christmas)

Favorite Shakespeare Play

MacBeth (and Hamlet)

Kids Books

Harold and the Purple Crayon


scott91777 said...

Poetry (a short one for me):

Ted Hughes- The Birthday Letters
Allan Ginsberg
Walt Whitman
(I think I'd like Bukowski if I ever got around to reading more of him)

Fiction (the big one)

Chuck Palahniuk-
Rant (my favorite of his), Haunted, Choke, Fight Club, Lullaby, Invisible Monsters

Kurt Vonnegut-
Welcome To The Monkeyhouse, Slaughterhouse Five, Cat's Cradle, God bless you, Mr. Rosewater.

Douglas Coupland-
Jpod, Hey, Nostradamus, Girlfriend in a Coma, The Gum Thief

Neil Gaiman-
Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions, American Gods

J.D. Salinger
Cather in The Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey

Flannery O'Connor-
Wise Blood, The Violent Bear it Away, Everything that Rises Must Converge (especially "The Lame Shall Enter First" which is, quite possibly, my favorite short story ever), "Good Country People"

Mark Twain-
Letters From The Earth, any of his humor pieces... especially the ones that involve him tearing up Fennimore Cooper,
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

F. Scott Fitzgerald-
The Great Gatsby, "Winter Dreams"... you know... the ones about rich people?

The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and The Sea, "A Day's Wait", "A Very Short Story"

William Faulkner-
The Snopes Trilogy: The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion (Okay, not really my favorite but I am oh so proud of myself for reading it)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez-
One Hundred Years of Solitude

Joseph Heller-Catch 22

Ray Bradbury- Farenheit 451

Thomas King- Green Grass, Running Water

John Knowles- A Separate Peace


Neil McCormick- Killing Bono

Chuck Klosterman- Killing Yourself To Live, Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs.

Chris Turner- Planet Simpson: how a Cartoon Masterpiece shaped a generation.

Understanding Comics- Scott McCloud

Misquoting Jesus- Bart D. Ehrman

Kurt Vonnegut- Palm Sunday

and, of course, How To Read Superhero Comics and Why (not kissing ass, Geoff, really love that book)


America: The Book- Jon Stuart and the Daily Show Writers.

Naked Pictures of Famous People- Jon Stuart

The Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays- Steve Martin

Shakespeare (required by law to put him on here somewhere)

The Insanity Defense- Woody Allen

The first Best American Non-required Reading collection (2003, I think)

The Canterbury Tales... ok, just "the Miller's Tale" and the part where the Wife of Bath tells the virtues of her hoo-ha...

The Bible (ok, just the dirty parts)

scott91777 said...

Oh yeah, favorite Shakespeare play: It used to be Hamlet... but I think I lean more towards King Lear these days.

Jim McCue said...

You must have read Spenser pretty carefully. O Balliol, o mores.

Geoff Klock said...

Jim: Ack! I always spell Spenser wrong. So not so carefully.

Jason said...

contemporary non-fiction:
*Ian MacDonald, Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties
*Geoff Klock, How to Read Superhero Comics and Why (good call Scott!)
*Andy Miller's 33-1/3 book about The Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society
*Ian Bradley's The Complete Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan

contemporary fiction:
+The Onion, Our Dumb Century
+George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards series (particularly Books 2, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 15)
+Chris Claremont's FirstFlight trilogy
+Alan Moore, Voice of the Fire
+Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello's Wigfield

classic fiction:
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Arthur Miller, The Crucible and All My Sons
Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac (the Brian Hooker translation)
Moliere, The Misanthrope (Richard Wilbur translation)
August Wilson, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Turgenev, A Month in the Country
Chekhov, Uncle Vanya
Brian Friel, Translations
Patrick Marber, Closer
all that Shakespeare stuff

Anything by Dorothy Parker

Favorite Shakespeare play:
It's such a cliche to say "Hamlet," but it is my favorite. For a while I liked to say it was "Othello" just to be less obvious, but every time I encounter "Hamlet" I'm reminded that I like it better than any others. (I did get to play "Macbeth" in college though, so that one has a special place in my heart as well.)

Darius Kazemi said...

Ahh, I am such a huge Pynchon fanboy it makes me very happy to see GR on your list.

Also, yay Borges. I decided when I was 13 that I would take Spanish at school specifically so I could read him. It was only years later that I realized his English translations are excellent, due in part to his rather scientific Latin cognate filled prose, as well as the fact that he assisted in the translations.

Oddly, I've never read The Three Versions of Judas. Will do that now.

Geoff Klock said...

Darius -- Come back and tell me what you think!

Darius Kazemi said...

Okay, I read it once in Spanish and then I found a full English text of the story online (happily I didn't mangle much of the story in Spanish).

I certainly like the story, and I understand how the tale of an academic gone mad would appeal to you :)

In the story it's plainly visible that Borges was very influenced by Chesterton and Lord Dunsany, but in particular there is something oddly Lovecraftian about it, especially in the part about the madness at the end. And of course as a fan of weird latter-day gnostic cults, I love his reference to the Docetists.

I still prefer Pierre Menard, Tlon Uqbar Orbis Tertius, and The Library of Babel--but as an old high school substitute teacher of mine once said: "Why read a whole novel when you can read a five-page Borges story?" (For what it's worth I feel like Pynchon has the same density: why read 200 novels when you can read Gravity's Rainbow.)

Geoff Klock said...

What I like about the story is the idea that something new can be said about Jesus, after all this time. It fits in with all that Bloom stuff about the value of the canon and doing new stuff with old things.

Mikey said...

Geoff – Harold and the Purple Crayon is pure, unadulterated genius, and I am grateful for its existence.

Ahem, that said:

Raymond Chandler – All of Marlowe. All of it.
Hunter Thompson – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Annie Proulx – Shipping News, Heartsongs, That Old Ace in the Hole
McCarthy – Blood Meridian
Michael Chabon – Wonderboys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Jonathan Lethem – Fortress of Solitude
Dave Eggers – You Shall Know Our Velocity
Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
James Elroy – Black Dahlia, LA Confidential
Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse Five
Tim O’Brien – The Things They Carried
Raymond Carver – Where I’m Calling From
Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea – The Illuminatus! Trilogy
Robert E. Howard – A whole heap of the Conan books (they are all the same and they are all amazing, couldn’t pick a favourite)
The Bible - The Book of Revelation

Gerard Jones – Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book
Chabon (again) – Maps and Legends (many here may appreciate some of Chabon’s thoughtful essays on genre – I’ll see if any are online)
Thompson (again) – Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 72, The Great Shark Hunt, and the first volume of letters when he was obsessed with becoming the new Fitzgerald: The Proud Highway - Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman 1955 - 1967
P. J. O’Rourke – Give War a Chance
N. Scott Momaday – The Way to Rainy Mountain
Any good collection of Mencken
Thoreau – Walden (and the rest)

Theory/Crit (wherein I demonstrate myself to be a product of a typical British Humanities program)
Baudrillard, all of it but probably The Spirit of Terrorism (the funniest) and America
Barthes – Mythologies
Lauren Berlant – The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship
Laura Mulvey – Visual and Other Pleasures
Mike Davis – City of Quartz
Frederic Jameson – Postmodernism/Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
Donna Haraway – Cyborg Manifesto
Ward Churchill – Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema, and the Colonization of American Indians
Some Zizek, usually whatever’s newest
I probably need to read some more Bloom as what I’ve read I’ve enjoyed but not a favourite (yet)

Bill Owens – Suburbia
Weegee – various cheap collections I’m always on the lookout for
Diane Arbus – ditto

Murray Bookchin – From Urbanization to Cities
Daniel Guérin – No Gods No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism
Howard Zinn – A People’s History of the US
Mikhael Bakunin – Selected Writing
Kropotkin – The Conquest of Bread; Fields, Factories and Workshops

Dos and Donts: 10 Years of VICE Magazine's Street Fashion Critiques
The Onion – Our Dumb Century

Any good collection of work by:
Iain Sinclair
Simon Armitage
Ted Hughes
Henry Normal
Coleridge - Mariner, other bits
Milton - Paradise Lost
Eliot - The Wasteland
John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester (I have read a lot of poetry but do not know a lot about it, but I do know that if I have to read Restoration poetry I'm glad Rochester exists)
Oh, and I just re-read Shakespeare’s sonnets and I think I realised what makes them so great.

Any collection of Norse myths and sagas (Snorri Sturluson’s Edda will do)
Similarly, any collection of Native American trickster tales
Augustus Caesar - Res Gestae Divi Augusti
Any collection of Cicero’s speeches (particularly the first one, in defense of Sextus Roscius, before he’d properly refined the rhetoric. It took brass balls to make that speech.)

Max Frisch – Biedermann und die Brandstifter (I think it’s called The Firebugs in the US).
Mamet – Glengarry Glen Ross
Shakespeare – Macbeth, The Tempest (I have a soft spot for the ‘lighter’ works)

Roald Dahl – Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr Fox
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Moore and Campbell – The Birth Caul/Snakes and Ladders (collected as A Disease of Language – maybe should’ve been in comics)

scott91777 said...

Oh, for kids books:

Shel Silverstein A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends

I also used to really like Robert Asprin's 'Myth' Adventures series.