Recently, on Facebook, Lance Olsen mentioned that he’s in the midst of “compiling a bibliography of 100 important experimental texts for [his] in-progress Architectures of Possibility: After Innovative Writing, a book about how to imagine one’s own work as a space of opportunities.” He asks:
“[W]hat are some of the texts across place & time that should be present?”
This was my answer:
Here are some works outside of the usual, but still unusual, suspects: Thalia Field’s oeuvre. Leon Forrest’s Forest County Trilogy (There Is a Tree More Ancient than Eden; The Bloodworth Orphans; and Two Wings to Veil My Face) and Divine Days. The 1611 King James Bible. Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren. Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. Virginia Woolf’s The Waves. Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch. Vanessa Place’s Dies: A Sentence. Brian Evenson’s Dark Property. Gary Lutz’s oeuvre. Ditto for Ben Marcus. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s oeuvre. Ditto for John Haskell. William Gass’s oeuvre. Ditto for William Gaddis. Some others: Frank Stanford’s The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You; Luigi Serafini’s The Codex Seraphinianus; and Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.
Now, as I reconsider my answer in light of imagining my own work “as a space of opportunities,” I think that I’d have to add Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space; Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and The Complete Cosmicomics; and The Best of Rube Goldberg.
John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.