Thursday, August 30, 2007

Books, check 'em out!

So there's a book meme going around, kindly requesting that we list the books that we recommend to others most often. But as I can't recall a single time when someone asked for my opinion on something to read, this meme doesn't quite work for me. So, I'll have to change it up a bit. The following is a list of books that I hold dear, for various reasons, some of which have to do with the words on the pages. I can't say if I'd ever recommend any of them to others.

Max Flies His Kite by Sarah Lapham and S. Rainaud. This is the first book I ever read, back in 1985. It is about a mouse named Max who somehow obtains a kite and goes out to fly it. The kite gets away from him and lands in a field. He goes to retrieve it and nearly dies from being run over by a tractor. Something like that. A story of the adult world ruining the world of children, kind of like The Red Balloon. I read this book over and over.

The 'A' encyclopedia. When I was little I wanted to be a genius. I thought that the best way to go about this would be to read the encyclopedia. But I only had enough money for one volume, so with my meager allowance I bought a copy of the 'A' Encyclopedia Britannica. The pages had gold on the edges and the cover was a reddish faux leather. It was beautiful. I would stay up all night long sitting in my closet with a flashlight, night after night, reading all about things that start with the letter 'A'. After I had completed it I wrapped it and gave it to my older brother as a birthday gift, but he laughed and gave it back, not knowing the hurt he caused me in so doing.

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Checked it out from the library when I was ten or eleven years old. Read it in a day, I was so enthralled. So confused. My dad found it in my room and I got in big trouble. I started listening to punk rock and decided I wanted to be a writer soon after reading this one.

Into the Great Wide Open by Kevin Canty. This book will forever torment me. I can't really put a finger on why. Because it is like reading about a seventeen-year-old me? Yeah, but there's something more than that. Reading it is like shoving pins in my eyes, but that doesn't stop me from picking it up at least once a year. An honest-to-God curse.

Bone Palace Ballet by Charles Bukowski. My friend Katherine gave me this book when I left home for college. I don't know why, really. But I think it is the best gift I ever received. I kept it with me wherever I went, reading a poem here and there whenever I got the chance, or reading it cover to cover whenever I got drunk. I find it very appropriate that I had to sell this book so that I'd have money to eat. Danica bought me a nice new copy a few years ago.

Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline. A vicious book read during a period when I was feeling very vicious. This just might be the greatest book ever, even though I must admit that I hate it with a passion now. I could never bear to part with it. I guess if I were to recommend any of these books it would be this one.

The Bohemians of the Latin Quarter by Henri Murger. I find it embarrassing to admit it, but this book very much fueled my romanticized desire to get the hell out of Tallahassee by hopping on a bus to Denver. I often had little money for food, and if I did have money for food I often spent it on beer, so I would distract myself from my hunger by hiding out in some deserted corner of that massive and glorious library at the Florida State University, which is where I stumbled upon and read this book. My version of a Kerouac phase.

There are hundreds more. Knulp by Hesse. Letters to Theo by Van Gogh. Hunger by Hamsun. Robinson Jeffers. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Some book by Paul Valéry the title of which I cannot remember. Rainer Maria Rilke. Tropic of Cancer. Thomas Pynchon's V. But I will stop there.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

I guess I wasn't as into women authors as I am now.