Stranded

So, yeah, I’m on a desert island, can only have ten books. A strange, impractical set-up—that the dungeon master here can assume I’d grab a round number of books instead of a two-way radio or a knife—but so be it. I’m there. I can only have ten books. Which is a lot like punishment, but, too, is a lot better than just nine books. Here goes:

1.Don Quixote. Not because it’s a classic and not because it’s on the required reading lists and not because it was the first real novel, any of that. I’d have it with me just because it’s good. Because I still think often of the way Dulcinea’s world must have reordered itself just a little, when she ceased being a princess. Because Don Quixote is able to preserve that romantic idealism most of us lose in the process of growing up. For him the world’s a magical place. I envy him that.

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Recommendation #4: Frank

Or, really, just all of R.M. Berry’s stuff. It starts with Plane Geometry and Other Affairs of the Heart, ramps up to Leonardo’s Horse, then hits with The Dictionary of Modern Anguish. Each brilliant. His short story “Metempsychosis” has been, along with VALIS and COL49 [The Crying of Lot 49], probably the most influential, for me. In the sense of this is a thing I’m always trying to pull off, each time I sit down to write.

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