Re: Your 50 favourite books
At that excellent literary bloggers aggregate site, Bigother.com, they recently held a '50 literary pillars' tribute to celebrate William H. Gass 88th. birthday. The site's very literate and knowledgeable bloggers listed their 50 favorite books, in one way or another. Finally the site did the numbers to see what the general consensus was on aggregate based on the number of times some writer's work was listed:
20 mentions: 1)Samuel Beckett
19 mentions: 2)James Joyce, 3)Virginia Woolf
18 mentions: 4)Vladimir Nabokov
15 mentions: 5)William Faulkner
14 mentions: 6)William H. Gass.
As you can see other than the birthday boy himself, the top dogs of 20th. Century English fiction came on top, as usual. After that, names started regularly tying. Next came the two greatest writers ever with 13 works listed each.
13 mentions: 7)Jorge Luis Borges, 8)William Shakespeare.
The only surprise among the double digit-ed writers was Ben Marcus, a sort of Bigother favorite, but the metafictionists, fabulists and post-modernists (actual or precursors) are well represented, as well as prose stylists McCartHy and Stein.
12 mentions: 9)Cormac McCarthy, 10)Gertrude Stein, 11)Italo Calvino
11 mentions: 12)Denis Johnson, 13)Donald Barthelme, 14)Don DeLillo, 15)Flannery O’Connor, 16)Herman Melville, 17)Robert Coover
10 mentions: 18)Ben Marcus, 19)Franz Kafka.
Up to 8 mentions, the list is virtually spotless, great, reputable writers all around; after 7 mentions it gets a bit more random, but still listing excellent writers (with the single exception of Mr. Delany). I myself look forward to exploring the following writers introduced to me by this list:
Ben Marcus, Mary Caponegro, Carole Maso, Brian Evenson, Barry Hannah, Mary Gaitskill, Gary Lutz, but above all Rock Star Poet Eileen Myles, at the end I'll share some of her wonderful work.
9 mentions: 20)David Markson, 21)Gabriel García Márquez, 22)Toni Morrison
8 mentions: 23)Alice Munro, 24)David Foster Wallace, 25)Emily Dickinson, 26)Wallace Stevens
7 mentions: 28)Barry Hannah, 29)Brian Evenson, 30)Charles Dickens, 31)Ernest Hemingway, 32)Guy Davenport, 33)Jacques Derrida, 34)Samuel R. Delany, 35)Thomas Pynchon
6 mentions: 36)Carole Maso, 37)Djuna Barnes, 38)Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gary Lutz, 39)J. G. Ballard, 40)Laurence Sterne, 41)Leo Tolstoy, 42)Lewis Carroll, 43)Marcel Proust, 44)Philip Roth
5 mentions: 45)Emily Brontë, 46)Friedrich Nietzsche, 47)George Orwell, 48)Henry Miller, 49)John Barth, 50)John Crowley, 51)Kathy Acker, 52)Margaret Atwood, 53)Mary Gaitskill, 54)Eileen Myles, 55)Ray Bradbury, 56)Raymond Carver, 57)Thomas Mann, 58)Walter Benjamin, 59)William Carlos Williams, 60)William Gaddis.
And now the promised selection from Eileen Myles' work:
by Eileen Myles
so you can
From a letter to a high school girl:
You'll meet people all over the world in person and through your work who will make it abundantly clear that what sails through your mind delights them, and the adventure of that encounter will bring you love and friendship and even some success but mostly it will bring you this crazy smiling part of yourself that will look back at you at thirteen or fifteen and even twelve (Hi!) and say honestly, You will be blown away by who you will grow up into.
Don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself, do what you want. All those things you are good at: drawing and painting, writing funny shit that everyone in school likes you to read out loud in class, those songs you write for the girl band, the plays you write so you won't flunk history. That is art. It's the work you will be doing for the rest of your life so be proud of these things that are easy for you. If something is easy for you, it means that big parts of you are being used and you should begin to do that thing with your eyes open and do it until it gets hard. Move something around and it will get easy again. You should look for other kids who are into what you are into and stick with them. The kids who are mean to you are a waste of time. If you just walk away from them and remain the mystery you are, the mystery will draw other kinds of people to you. Some you already know, some you will meet in a few years.
The world is open to you, unbelievably. You are great, funny, beautiful, and completely wild. And you are already big enough and strong enough and wise enough to make a go in it and become part of its story. So start talking now. Meet yourself. Meet the people. And if they can't listen to you and can't hold your attention, then go talk to someone else. And someone else again. You'll find the right ones. We of the future are waiting for you to make us laugh at the secrets you've been holding inside for so long.
From her comments about Ginsberg's Howl:
What is this dream?
who lit cigarettes in boxcars, boxcars,
boxcars racketing through snow toward
lonesome farms in grandfather night
I keep wondering about that grandfather night. The "lonesome farms," of course, are a case of attributing how you feel sitting in the car to the farms, and they're out there. But "grandfather night" seems very old. Older than America. I wondered if this poem's train isn't speeding through a night in which people are being yanked out of the beds, never to be seen again. Are on the train being carried to an unspecifIed destination. America? A country of incarcerated black men and smiling blond women
It's Allen's identification bringing all those lives in close that works, and it also occurs to me (and Allen I think said this often) that it works a little bit like it did for Christopher Smart, Ginsberg's other great literary predecessor, besides Blake (and Williams), and I'm thinking of the Smart of "Rejoyce in the Lamb," which begins
For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry . . .
Last edited by Cleanthess; 05-Nov-2012 at 03:12.
When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food.