Tuesday, February 07, 2006

On books

There was one of these things floating around asking people to "List one book that you would recommend to just about anybody for whatever reason (funny, poignant, bizarre, erotic, inspiring, disturbing, etc.). Let's leave out all political/historical/religious documents, since everyone should read all of that on general principles anyway."

Ummm... Ok. This looks easier than it is, and I'm sure most people just answered with their favorite book, but somehow there seemed more to it than me.

I answered, "Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss. Yeah, I tried other things, from The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard to Doghouse Roses by Steve Earle, but I could always think of someone I wouldn't recommend it to for some reason... 'Your husband's been sent to prison, here's a copy of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, it's a great book." I'm forced to say, that I can't think of any person in any situation that couldn't benefit from the story of Bartholomew Cubbins' sticky wicket, as they say."

Mind you, I started with And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. It's certainly the most me book in the world. If you can really grok "Mulberry Street" than you understand everything that's important to know about me. But then the part of me that's slightly less egotistical decided that understanding me may not actually be the most important literary experience everyone should be required to have.

Basically, I could come up with a whole library of books that most people should eventually read under some circumstances. The Plague by Albert Camus, The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories by Franz Kafka, Revolution for the Hell of It! by Abbie Hoffman (as Free!), Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling, Abarat by Clive Barker, Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters by Mike Grell, Don Quixote de La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime by Roger Corman, V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, On Writing by Stephen King, High Cotton by Joe R. Lansdale, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For by Frank Miller, Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett, Galactic Patrol by E.E. "Doc" Smith and apparently Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, as well as dozens more that I'm not thinking of at this moment...

... but all of those seem like there's some person or some circumstance I wouldn't recommend them. To most people, under most circumstances, however, I certainly recommend them wholeheartedly.

Some footnotes: I might have chosen Cabal by Clive Barker were it not for the beautiful illustrations in "Abarat" (perhaps I should have chosen Visions of Heaven and Hell). I also would have liked to include examples by Jack Kirby and H.P. Lovecraft, but both seemed to elude having a single work that I needed to recommend. Not, of course, that anyone's reading this with more than a vaguely intrigued shrug. I just like books.

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