Davis Schneiderman’s “Literary Pillars”

In honor of William Gass’s birthday, here is a list of some of my own touchstones (at least of the moment).

  1. Proust. All of In Search of Lost Time. Any translation.
  2. Naked Lunch. Not Burroughs’ absolute best, but his best known…and the most important for historical reasons.
  3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking Glass. Feed your head.
  4. Empire of the Senseless, Kathy Acker.The ultimate post-colonial fantasy.
  5. The Castle. Kafka saved my life.
  6. Omensetter’s Luck. Not Gass’ best-known, but it’s one the best books I’ve every read twice. Period.
  7. VAS: An Opera in Flatland, Steve Tomasula. One of my partners at &NOW, but one of my idols for making this book.
  8. Geek Love, Katherine Dunn.We told you we had living, breathing monstrosities.
  9. Calendar of Regrets, Lance Olsen. Bosch and Dan Rather.
  10. Moby Dick. My children pretend to be Queequeg.
  11. A Novel of Thank You, Gertrude Stein. Thank you very much.
  12. The Silent Cry, Kenzaburo Oe. Two brothers return to their ancestral home…
  13. Incest, from a Journal of Love, Anais Nin.Better than Miller.
  14. Funeral Rites, Jean Genet. Eating a cat.
  15. Double or Nothing, Raymond Federman. The voice in the closet.
  16. The Lost Ones, Samuel Beckett. The only humorless Beckett work? Federman’s favorite, from when derives the phrase “The twofold vibration.”
  17. Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino. Marco. Polo.
  18. Liberty’s Excess, Lidia Yuknavitch. Now I know how Joan of Arc felt.
  19. The Process, Brion Gysin. The most perfect novel you’ve never read.
  20. The Sheltering Sky/Let it Come Down/The Spider’s House: 3-way tie. Tea in the Sahara.
  21. Pinocchio in Venice, Robert Coover. He is the fox and the cat.
  22. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, Hunter S. Thompson. Nixon = funny.
  23. NOX, Anne Carson. You unfold this book; it enfolds you.
  24. Reality Hunger, David Shields. Not the first to say these things, and that’s the point.
  25. The Melancholy of Anatomy, Shelley Jackson. You put your inside out…
  26. Keyhole Factory, William Gillespie. Limited edition from Spineless; forthcoming from Soft Skull. Unbelievably fantastic.
  27. The Savage Detectives, Roberto Bolano. Tales of the disappearing duo.
  28. The Atrocity Exhibition, J.G. Ballard. The expanded edition includes the interior of a human chest.
  29. Peter Doyle, John Vernon.An out-of-print gem about Walt Whitman’s lover and Napoleon’s penis.
  30. The Jiri Chronicles and Other Fictions, Debra Di Blasi. With adfictions and products galore!
  31. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami.Toru Okada’s cat runs away.
  32. Is it Sexual Harassment Yet?, Cris Mazza. Well, is it?
  33. Buddenbrooks, Thomas Mann. Not The Magic Mountain. Which is why I like it so much.
  34. Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison. Not her most innovative novel, linguistically, but the one I teach again and again for the way it immediately resonates with undergraduates.
  35. The Crying of Lot 49. Thomas Pynchon. Not Gravity’s Rainbow. Which is why I like it so much.

36-49: 14 other Burroughs books to read

  1. The Third Mind, with Brion Gysin. Try to find a copy of this cut-up manifesto.
    1. Cities of the Red Night. The beginning of the late-career renaissance.
    2. The Place of Dead Roads. Part 2 of the above.
    3. The Western Lands. Part 3.
    4. Queer. The birth of the routine.
    5. The Soft Machine.  The human body, get it?
    6. The Ticket that Exploded. The win that’s a loss.
    7. Electronic Revolution. Take it to the streets.
    8. Nova Express. Break through in Grey Room.
    9. The Job (with Daniel Odier). And again.
    10. Ghost of Chance. Lemurs, lemurs, everywhere.
    11. The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead. Chicago 1968 set in another galaxy.
    12. Port of Saints. Wild Boys 2, with more Wild Boys.
    13. The Burroughs File. A selection of the small-press and little magazine text experiments.

50. The next book.

Editor’s Note: This list is part of Big Other’s Tribute to William H. Gass’s 88th Birthday.

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2 thoughts on “Davis Schneiderman’s “Literary Pillars”

  1. Pingback: Big Other’s Birthday Tribute to William H. Gass, 2012 « BIG OTHER

  2. Pingback: Big Other’s 50 Pillars, compiled « BIG OTHER

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