Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut – I could fill all 10 spots on the list with Vonnegut, but that would be too easy, picking only one, today my choice is Slaughterhouse 5
Cyberiad: Fables for a Cybernetic Age, Stanislaw Lem – even in translation Lem’s prose reads like poetry; every time I read it, I get the urge to study Polish.
And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street, Dr. Seuss – this is the book that made me want to be a reader
Another Roadside Attraction, Tom Robbins – and this is the book that made me want to be a writer
Monkey, Wu Cheng-En – the 500 year-old Chinese folk novel about a Buddhist priest who walks from China to India and back again to bring Buddhist scriptures to the people of China
The Pop-Up Book of Phobias, Gary Greenberg – what are you afraid of? spiders? dentists? toilets? It’s all here.
The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes – this book is an acquired taste, but so are whiskey and cigars.
Maus, Art Spiegelman – a graphic novel, quite possibly the best book ever written about the Holocaust
Hammett Unwritten, Gordon McAlpine – a memoir? a novel? a novel disguised a memoir? Mostly it’s a love song to the Maltese Falcon.
On the Road, Jack Kerouac – I lied when I said I could fill all 10 spots with Vonnegut. Because one spot on any book list must go to On the Road.
“So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.”