From Kate’s Book Blog:
One book that changed your life: Lexus, Sexus and Nexus by Henry Miller. I read The Rosy Crucifixion when I was 23 and this trilogy, perused in one mad gulp, gave me invaluable lessons about clinging obstinately to my dreams, remaining true to myself, and being unapologetically honest and passionate. Sure, there was a lot of sex in the three books and that didn’t hurt either. But before Henry Miller, I was a nervous and bumbling kid. I emerged on the other side with the beginnings of an unstoppable impetus. (Other authors I read during this time committed to these self-same truths: James Baldwin, James M. Cain, Jim Thompson — a lot of Jims for some strange reason. But, his narcissism aside, it was good ol’ Henry Miller who I am most indebted to.)
One book that you’ve read more than once: Many, but Richard Powers’ The Gold Bug Variations and William Gaddis’s The Recognitions come immediately to mind.
One book you’d want on a desert island: I hate to pilfer from Jenny D, but The Riverside Shakespeare is truly the only option.
One book that made you laugh: John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor
One book that made you cry: William T. Vollmann’s The Rainbow Stories, in large part because Bootwoman Marisa reminded me of someone I once knew who had gone down a horrible path because she was misunderstood.
One book that you wish had been written: A three-way tie between Dickens’ unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood and the fourth and fifth books that Mervyn Peake had hoped to write in his Gormenghst trilogy with an elderly Titus Groan.
One book that you wish had never been written: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. While this novel contains undeniable (and certainly unintentional) comic value, perhaps the Rand disciples, who cling foolishly to Rand’s tenets the way flies flock to feces, might have put their energies towards something more humanist. This book, in addition to being a plodding mess I read through to the very edge, is pretty much my ideological opposite.
One book you’re currently reading: Scott Smith’s The Ruins, a good romp after a lot of high-octane literary fiction.
One book you’ve been meaning to read: Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, which has been sitting around unread for years.
You meant “The Recognitions” right?
Yeah. Sorry. I’m reading the Franzen book right now. I plead guilty!
The Rosy Crucifiction is such a great set of books. I was 23 and gulping madly myself when I found them. I really think Miller started a conversation and nobody in contemporary literature continued it.
The unfinished Gormenghast series is a great pick!