A twitter follower asked me to help him dig into some books he probably hadn't heard of. (To help with his 2017 resolution.) Here's my list. A few you might have heard of or even read (a few classics in there), but for the most part, I bet you haven't. And I loved every one:
A Manual For Cleaning Women, Lucia Berlin. Stunning short stories. She was my mentor, so I wondered if I was biased, but then the New York Times heralded her as a lost genius, and I've yet to find anyone not awe-struck by these stories. And check out my appreciation of Lucia Berlin in Vanity Fair. And if it's not clear, that's her book cover up top.
Jesus' Son, Denis Johnson.
Henry IV, Part 1, William Shakespeare. Note: Part 2 is a completely different play--and terrible! Part 1 is fully self-contained. Part 1 might be my favorite of his. Up there with Macbeth. I love all the histories, that I've gotten to. Except Part 2!
The Last Magazine, Michael Hastings.
Skinny Legs and All, Tom Robbins.
The Architect of Flowers, William Lychack. Stunning short stories. Refreshing and intimate voice, wondrous prose, startling events. Click the pic for more info.
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner. If you haven't attempted Faulker, this will blow your mind. Really frustrating at the start, till you learn to roll with it, but what a payoff.
Grunt, Mary Roach.
Creation, Gore Vidal.
The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco.
Wearing Dad's Head, Barry Yourgrau. Changed my perceptions of what was possible, as a writer. And so much fun to read!
Beowulf, the Seamus Heaney translation. (Not what you think. Not boring, or long.)
The English and Their History, Robert Tombs. (I'm 200 pages in now. Best English history I've ever read, by far. And I've read a lot.)
Longitude, Dava Sobel.
Monster In A Box, Spalding Gray.
The Right Stuff, Tom Wolf.
The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger.
Conclusive Evidence (aka, Speak, Memory), Vladimir Nabokov. (My favorite book ever. His memoir. Dazzling. His publisher pressured him to change the name to Speak, Memory decades later, but I don't accept that title. He said the original referred to conclusive evidence of his having existed. Wow.)