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Jeff VanderMeer
Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2003 - 07:29 pm:   

Just by way of discussion...Every day I rearrange the order of these... :-)

Jeff

• Fantasy: Essential Reading.

1. Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov
2. The Gormenghast Trilogy, Mervyn Peake
3. Lanark, Alasdair Gray
4. Jerusalem Poker, Edward Whittemore
5. The Chess Garden, Brooks Hansen
6. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, Angela Carter
7. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
8. Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges
9. Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter
10. Observatory Mansions, Edward Carey
11. Possession, A.S. Byatt
12. In Viriconium, M. John Harrison
13. Arc d'X, Steve Erickson
14. V, Thomas Pynchon
15. Sinai Tapestry, Edward Whittemore
16. Quin’s Shanghai Circus, Edward Whittemore
17. If Upon a Winter's Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino
18. Collected Stories, Franz Kafka
19. The Master & Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
20. Mother London, Michael Moorcock
21. The Collected Stories, J.G. Ballard
22. A Fine and Private Place, Peter S. Beagle
23. The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster
24. Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
25. The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica, John Calvin Bachelor
26. House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski
27. The Riddle Master trilogy, Patricia McKillip
28. The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino
29. The Other Side, Alfred Kubin
30. The Circus of Doctor Lao, Charles Finney
31. A Voyage to Arcturus, David Lindsay
32. The Circus of the Earth & the Air, Brooke Stevens
33. Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
34. Dictionary of the Khazars, Milorad Pavic
35. At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brian
36. The Troika, Stepan Chapman
37. The Fan-maker’s Inquisition, Rikki Ducornet
38. Solomon Gursky Was Here, Mordechai Richler
39. Darconville's Cat, Alexander Theroux
40. Don Quixote, Cervantes
41. Poor Things, Alasdair Gray
42. Geek Love, Katherine Dunn
43. The Land of Laughs, Jonathan Carroll
44. The Wizard of Earthsea trilogy, Ursula K. LeGuin
45. The House on the Borderland, William Hope Hodgson
46. Little Big, John Crowley
47. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
48. The General in His Labyrinth, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
49. The Seven Who Fled, Frederick Prokosch
50. Already Dead, Denis Johnson
51. The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, Jeffrey Ford
52. Phosphor in Dreamland, Rikki Ducornet
53. The Passion of New Eve, Angela Carter
54. Views From the Oldest House, Richard Grant
55. Life During Wartime, Lucius Shepard
56. The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, Barry Hughart
57. The Famished Road, Ben Okri
58. Altmann’s Tongue, Brian Evenson
59. Girl Imagined by Chance, Lance Olsen
60. The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant & Other Stories, Jeffrey Ford
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2003 - 11:55 pm:   

Hmm, Jeff, that's a pretty comprehensive list. I'm just wandering through, have printed it off, and am considering what, why, and if I've read them -- all of which I have not. Damn, now means I have more to add to my TBR pile. Certainly some I agree with and love there.

As far as the Carroll goes, LAUGHS above all others? I always speak about that one and MARRIAGE OF STICKS in the same breath.

Have to applaud the placement of Peake.

Somehow, I'm also missing the presence of Gene Wolfe somewhere in that list.
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 06:43 am:   

Jeff: Here's a couple more. Not for your list, but just to throw out there.

The Woman in the Dunes -- Kobo Abe
Arabian Nights and Days -- Naguib Mahfouz
The King's Indian -- John Gardner
The Adventures of Maqroll -- Alvaro Mutis
The Street of Crocodiles -- Bruno Schulz
The Hawkline Monster -- Richard Brautigan
Plain Tales From the Hills -- Rudyard Kipling

Best,

Jeff
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Des
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 08:06 am:   

No Night Land by Hodgson? Despite its faults, I feel it contains one of the greatest fantastic landscapes ever written.
And no Jack Vance?
And I see Cordwainer Smith as a fantasy writer rather than a SF one. Des
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GabrielM
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 08:20 am:   

Glad to see there's another fan of THE NIGHT LAND!

I like the list, although I think some pulp would spice it up -- Lovecraft, Howard and Clark Ashton Smith in particular. (This last one being something of a marriage of decadence and pulp.)

I think Millhauser deserves to be on, probably with MARTIN DRESSLER. Also Rushdie with SATANIC VERSES or MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN, Orhan Pamuk with MY NAME IS RED or any other novel and Jose Saramago with just about anything.

And then there's also Cortazar, with either HOPSCOTCH or his short stories.

Plus Vance with the Dying Earth sequence.

And Peter Ackroyd's HAWKSMOOR. Or ENGLISH MUSIC....

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Mike Simanoff
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 08:29 am:   

I'm glad Jeffrey Ford mentioned Bruno Schulz. I'd also plug his other book in English, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass.

More Central/Eastern European spec fiction gems: Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz and anything by Danilo Kis, especially Garden, Ashes and A Tomb for Boris Davidovich.
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 08:57 am:   

I'm glad Jeff Ford mentioned MAQROLL EL GAVIERO by Alvaro Mutis.
But I also agree with Mike's mention of FERDYDURKE, though I've only read the bad Penguin translation (from the Polish via French).
I'd also mention Frigyes Karinthy's CAPILLARIA.
And yes, a Jack Vance book, THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD.
Milorad Pavic's best novel, LANDSCAPE PAINTED WITH TEA.
VERMILION SANDS by J.G. Ballard (though I might go for his COMPLETE SHORT STORIES which contains the other book).
FROTH ON THE DAYDREAM by Boris Vian.
THE CYBERIAD by Stanislaw Lem.
BARON IN THE TREES and THE NON-EXISTENT KNIGHT and COSMICOMICS by Italo Calvino. (Yes, he gets three!)

Hmmm, I'd better make my own proper list. 60 books, you say?
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Des
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 09:09 am:   

Rhys, reading Calvino's Cosmicomics at this very moment, together with Marcovaldo -- and Adam, One Afternoon. A rare treat. Des
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Des
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 09:11 am:   

Also shocked to see no Lord Dunsany!
And no Hope Mirlees, George Macdonald?
Des
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JeffV
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 09:59 am:   

LOL! This is not a systematic list. Which is one reason I wanted to post it here. I agree with most or all of these suggestions. And there's definitely not enough Gene Wolfe on the list. Please keep posting them! Since I plan on using this list for lectures on fantasy, it's important it be more complete than it is. I'd happily have a list going up to 150 or 200 entries!
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Mike Simanoff
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 11:18 am:   

Speaking of bad translations: St. Petersburg by Andrey Biely. Though the book's genius shines through any translation.

More: Any Bulgakov collection with "The Fateful Eggs" and "Diaboliad," Vsevolod Garshin's collection The Signal and Other Stories (esp. "The Scarlet Blossom"), and Feodor Sologub's underrated masterpiece The Petty Demon.
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Des
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 11:24 am:   

Still *shocked* to see no Lord Dunsany.
Or Algernon Blackwood novels, come to that.
I'm too old for such shocks. ;-)
Des
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Alan DeNiro
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 11:26 am:   

A few teeny suggestions:

His Monkey Wife (John Collier)
The Age of Wire and String (Ben Marcus)
Dona Quixote (Leena Krohn)
The Overcoat and Other Tales of Good and Evil (Gogol)
The Intuitionist (Colson Whitehead)
In the Country of Last Things (Paul Auster)
The Starbridge Chronicles (Paul Park)
The Forest of Hours (Kirsten Ekman)

Alan

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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 12:13 pm:   

Alan: I really like that His Monkey Wife too.

Best,

Jeff
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 01:38 pm:   

For me, one of my favourite fantasy novels is "The Tunnel" by Ernesto Sabato . . . "On Heroes and Tombs" should also be considered fantasy, and it is probably one of the top 10 novels of the last century . . . Zola wrote a book called "La faute de l'abbé Mouret" which is also quite brilliant; as is "The Zemganno Brothers" by Goncourt and "The Juggler" by Rachilde.

Brendan
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JeffV
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 02:18 pm:   

Okay, folks. I am experiencing this marvelous sensation of my universe expanding somewhat exponentially. The following authors I'm not familiar with, and I think some other readers might not be familiar with them, either. Could you elaborate on them? A little bit about what their work is like?

In no particular order:

Ernesto Sabato
Sologub
Hope Mirlies
Richard Brautigan
Gombrowicz
Donilo Kis
Ben Marcus
Kirsten Ekman
Leena Krohn (Dona Quixote is a great title!)
Colin Whitehead
Suhilz

Also, Des--I don't want you to go into shock, so I will place Lord Dunsany on the list as soon as possible!

Re Nightland--it's practically unreadable. It's so turgid I couldn't bear it.

Mutis is okay--it just didn't click with me.

Yes, the St. Petersburg novel by Biely--really, really bad translation. I couldn't finish it, although I could feel talented work poking out beneath the scratched surface.

To be honest--Jack Vance, beyond that "Dragon Masters" story, doesn't do much for me. I think this is a flaw in me, not in him.

Jeff Ford recommended a really good book recently--The Horned Man. I can't remember the author right now.

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Alan DeNiro
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 03:11 pm:   

Hello Jeff (Ford. There are lots of Jeffs here). His Monkey Wife is a bizarre book, isn't it? It manages to be freakish and winsome at the same time, esp. for being written in 1930!

Two other Canadian books I'd add to the list:

Sing Me No Love Songs, I'll Say You No Prayers (Leon Rooke)
Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa (Andre Alexis)

OK, I have some 'splaining to do about four authors I recommended.

Leena Krohn is an amazing Finnish writer. None of her work is in print in the U.S., but Carcanet (maybe Bloodaxe) released a book of hers called Dona Quixota and the Gold of Orphir (two novellas, kind of like a Tor double). It's really amazing. Some of her stuff is in English at http://tinyurl.com/5syh

Kirsten Eckman is a Swedish writer, probably best known here for her mystery Blackwater. The Forest of Hours is a book about the long life of a troll.

Ben Marcus--not sure how to describe his work. Go to http://www.benmarcus.com and you can pretty much see for yourself how strange it is.

Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist posits an alternate, slightly allegorical, slightly noir world in which elevator inspectors hold great power. It involves the conspiracy to frame the first ever female African American elevator inspector as well as the quest for the perfect elevator (a quantum elevator, kind of--but everything in the book cleverly turns as an inquiry into race. The verticality of social freedoms.)

Hope that helps!

Alan
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Mike Simanoff
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 03:46 pm:   

from MIKE SIMANOFF'S LITERARY TOUR OF SELECTED SLAVIC NATIONS*

Witold GOMBROWICZ (1904-1969): Polish absurdist writer who was stranded in Argentina by WWII, lived there for many years, and died while a resident of France. Author of many fine tales ranging from metaphysical mystery to satire and a very insightful and hilarious journal. Ferdydurke, published in 1937, is a piece of sui-generis lunatic genius, a paean to immaturity. It caused a scandal when it was published.

Danilo KIS (1935-1989): Slightly more sober and academic novelist and essayist. Born in Serbia to a Jewish Hungarian father, lived most of his life in exile in France, where he died (from lung cancer, not from living in France). Explored the timeless themes of memory and power. A Tomb for Boris Davidovich (1976) is a collection of unsettling, thematically related stories in which history becomes rewritten at the expense of innocent people. He had unruly hair.

Bruno SCHULZ (1892-1942): Polish Jew, the modern Plotinus, who first achieved moderate success by translating Kafka. Wrote (and illustrated) two books of shimmering beauty. There is absolutely no substitute for reading him, and you must consume his words immediately. Murdered by Nazis.

Fyodor SOLOGUB (1863-1927; pen name of Fyodor Kuzmich Teternikov): Russian poet, playwright, novelist. In The Petty Demon (1916) he describes a word full of evil and pain, from which the only escape is fantasy or death. It is a very unsettling, purgative symbolist story. Features: sadistic schoolteachers.

*Pronunciation guide available upon request
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Luís
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 10:22 pm:   

Hi all! Lots of great recommendations here. Glad Boris Vian was remembered, and Hodgson, Mirlees and Vance too, of course.

Mike S., have you considered Ismail Kadaré for your Slavic authors tour? Can't speak for the other books, but do try THE PALACE OF DREAMS.

Alan, loved your essay, it'll be up on Fantastic Metropolis by tomorrow!

Best, Luís
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gabe chouinard
Posted on Thursday, February 13, 2003 - 10:36 pm:   

A WINTER'S TALE by Mark Helprin.

More Iain Sinclair.

And I can't imagine how you missed Rhys Hughes.

--gabe
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 12:37 am:   

Hi Jeff –

Ernesto Sabato is just too cool not to have read! He is sort of the definition of Metafiction. I believe he is from Buenos Aires. Read “On Heroes and Tombs” (Sobre héroes y tumbas). Inside of this book (I think it is this book) there is a novella about the secret world of the blind, that has to be . . . Well, just read it. This author really is not only the best of the South American’s, but also one of the greatest of the century – just behind Joyce and Faulkner.

On another note, there is a book called “The Moustache” by Emanuele Carrier (I know I am probably mis-spelling the name) that is also certainly one of the best Fantasy novels of the century. The writings of Handke are also worth checking out, though I am not sure if they fall into the “Fantasy” heading or not . . .

For older books here are a few also that deserve mention: Victor Hugo – The Man Who Laughed; Villiers de L’Isle Adam – Contes Cruel; James Hogg – The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner; Balzac – Seraphita; Andreyev – The Red Laugh; Oliver Onions – The Beckoning Fair One; Count Potacki – The Seragossa Manuscript; Barbey d’Aurevilly – Les Diaboliques; Robert Hichins – Flames; Eca de Queiros – The Mandarin.


Brendan
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 02:24 am:   

Jeff, Brautigan was a trendy hippie writer in oh, a long time ago. Can't remember. I do remember IN WATERMELON SUGAR which was very big at the time. Same period of trendiness as Hesse. Actually, should one not add Herman Hesse to the list?
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Rhys
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 05:29 am:   

Sabato is an amazing writer. He's still alive apparently, but he must be over 90 by now!

What about Bioy Casares?

Felisberto Hernandez.

Maurice Richardson, for heck's sake!

As for Dunsany: my favourite Dunsany novel is probably THE CHARWOMAN'S SHADOW.

If we are talking 'heroic fantasy', then Poul Anderson's THE BROKEN SWORD, Fletcher Pratt's THE WELL OF THE UNICORN and (especially) E.R. Edison's four novels, THE WORM OUROBOROS and the three Zimiavian books, MISTRESS OF MISTRESSES, FISH SUPPER IN MEMISON and THE MEZENTIAN GATE.

Wyndham Lewis's THE CHILDERMASS, MONSTRE GAI and MALIGN FIESTA.

Rex Warner's THE WILD GOOSE CHASE.

Boris Vian! Boris Vian! Boris Vian!

Raymond Queneau's THE SUNDAY OF LIFE.

VanderMeer's CITY OF SAINTS AND MADMEN.

Pavic's THE INNER SIDE OF THE WIND.

Sudhir Kakar's THE ASCETIC OF DESIRE.

Patrick Suskind's PERFUME.
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 05:50 am:   

Jeff and Jay: Brautigan is a writer who gets the poo poo a lot, but I like his work. There's a real sense of play in it, an extemporaneous quality, as if he is making it up as he is going along, and some great lines. The other reason he wasn't taken completely seriously was because he had a great sense of humor. You know how important that darkness and dire circumstance is to certain writers as a means of exemplifying their profundity. Also, his style is loose and minimalist at the same time, giving people the idea that anyone could copy it. Not so. Confederate General at Big Sur, Dreaming of Babylon, So the Wind Doesn't Blow It All Away, Trout Fishing in America, The Hawkline Monster and Watermelon Sugar, I think are really worth reading. Many of these have fantasy elements or are out and out fantastical. His later work didn't help his reputation -- Montana Express, Sombrero Fallout, etc. He didn't think so either and committed suicide.
I like Danilo Kis, especially his Encyclopedia of the Dead. There's a story in there I ripped off pretty good when writing "High Tea With Jules Verne."
Two other ones I really like for their sense of free wheeling invention are:

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts -- Amos Tutuola

Dr. Sax -- Jack Kerouak

Best,

Jeff
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Luís
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 06:15 am:   

> Eça de Queirós – The Mandarin

Brendan, I should be ashamed not to have been this one to bring him up!

Also, let me add Victor Pelevin to the list.

Cheers,
Luís
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Luís
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 06:18 am:   

I need to wake up. I meant to say "I should be ashamed not to have been ***the*** one to bring him up". :P

This drawing of attention to his own stupid mistakes was a courtesy of . . .
Luís Rodrigues
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Robert W
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 06:49 am:   

I read most of Brautigan's books when I was in college, liked In Watermelon Sugar a lot.

Adding:

Winter's Tale--Mark Helprin
The Centaur in the Garden--Moacyr Scliar
The Unlimited Dream Company--J.G. Ballard
The Lost Steps--Alejo Carpentier
Baroque Concerto--Alejo Carpentier
A New History of Torments--Zulfikar Ghose

I think every day someone should add a few more, so that Jeff will go mad with the desire to read everything. Then we can start making up authors.

Robert
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 07:08 am:   

Robert: Too late. VanderMeer is already crazy.

Best,

Jeff
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Montmorency
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 08:48 am:   

A modest Japanese reader throws in some pebbles to test the water.

Hope Mirlees - Lud-in-the-Mist
Mark Helprin - A Winter's Tale & Soldier of the Great War
Patrick Suskind - The Perfume
Gunter Grass - Tin Drum
Wilhelm Hauff - Three Collections
Russell Hoban - Riddly Walker
John Masefield - The Midnight Folk
Nancy Willard - Things Invisible to See & Sister Water
Sean Stewart - Mockingbird
Daniel Wallace - Big Fish
Terry Dowling - Blackwater Days
Agota Kristof - The Notebook

Glad Richard Grant is in it, but I prefer Rumors of Spring (to tell the truth, I coudn't understand View from the Oldest House).

I'm now happy to be in The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque.
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Montmorency
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 08:51 am:   

Yes, I know, some may not pass your scrutiny. But I love them.
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JeffV
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 08:57 am:   

All good stuff.

As Jeff F. points out, I am insane. I'm insane to be contemplating getting more books when I still have so many left to read!

Rumors of Spring is considered by some to be a pastiche of Little, Big. I don't agree, but it may have colored my putting on the list or not.

Yes--Rhys does need to be on the list. But which book? I think I kept trying to decide and mixing and matching my favorite stories.

I also debated taking off the list anyone I know, but that began to seem silly.

I tried the Hoban, couldn't get through it.

I'd like to hear more about Daniel Wallace and Agota Kristof.
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Mastadge
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 09:01 am:   

Big Fish by Daniel Wallace is a fun touching little book which will probably get a nice re-release in the near future because it also happens to be the basis for Tim Burton's next film.
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Des
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 10:00 am:   

The greatest Rhys Hughes work hasn't been written yet. And I agree with RH that The Charlady's Shadow is probably the optimum Dunsany.
Des
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Mike Simanoff
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 10:49 am:   

I read Agota Kristof's The Notebook in college and wasn't impressed by it. (Then again, I've been known to change my mind.) She's Hungarian but moved to Switzerland when the Russkies invaded. She's still alive. The Notebook is a very detached metafiction about a pair of young twins and their grandmother hiding in the forests of Central Europe during WWII. It's sort of a mixture of Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Birds in terms of content and Thadeusz Borowski's This Way to the Gas Chamber, Ladies and Gentlemen in terms of style--two books which are OK but wouldn't make it to the top of any list.
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Peggy H
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 12:01 pm:   

I'll second the comments on Daniel Wallace's Big Fish, which I really liked. However, his second novel, Ray in Reverse, I didn't like as well.
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 01:08 pm:   

Rhys - Sabato is 92 I think.

Luís - The Yellow Sofa and Cousin Bazilio (sp?) are actually better books though . . . But I suppose they are not fantasy . . .

Brendan
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Jorge
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 01:45 pm:   

The Yellow Sofa?!

I'm stumped. And I'm portuguese, for christ's sake!... But I don't know of any book by Eça under that title (or it's translation to portuguese).

What is it?
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Luís
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 01:50 pm:   

Hi Brendan,

No, I think THE MANDARIN is the only fantastic novel by Eça. It's funny, because it stands right in the middle of his realist period.

Don't miss THE SIN OF FATHER AMARO and THE MAIAS, two absolute shockers when they were published in 1875 and 1888 respectively. THE MAIAS is a classic often disliked from highschool on because of the way it's taught, unfortunately. Education here can take all the fun out of reading if you're not careful.

Best,
Luís
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Luís
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 02:27 pm:   

Hey, and what about Anna Kavan?

Jorge: THE YELLOW SOFA is a novel(la?), published posthumously in a collection. Haven't read it myself, but it seems it was heavily edited by Eça's son before it came out. (It's anyone's guess if these changes made the story better or worse . . .)

Cheers,
Luís
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Alan DeNiro
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 06:45 pm:   

Yet another "Oh wait, here's another one":

Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin

Alan
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GabrielM
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 10:19 pm:   

Arabian Nightmare is great.

The Moustache is by Emmanuel Carrere, who also wrote CLASS TRIP and GOTHIC ROMANCE, both worth reading. And the chilling true crime book THE ADVERSARY, which was one of my faves from a couple of years ago.
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 10:42 pm:   

Can someone tell me what The Tunnel is about. I've had a bi-lingual copy of it for years and never read it. Just a hint to get me interested perhaps. If you don't mind. Thanks

Best,

Jeff
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Brendan
Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2003 - 12:33 am:   

Jeff –

The Tunnel is the first instalment of Sabato’s obsession with the blind . . . It is a strange little book, that more or less gets continued in On Heroes and Tombs – in On Heroes and Tombs you really find out what The Tunnel is about . . .

The Yellow Sofa – What an awesome little tale! A masterpiece of Naturalistic humour; along the lines of The Sin of Father Amaro and the more ridiculous moments in The Maias . . . Certainly worth reading – and it can be read in a day or two . . . For humour Eça and Gogol are the masters.

Brendan
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Luís
Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2003 - 12:38 am:   

Also very funny is Eça's THE RELIC.

Best, Luís
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Des
Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2003 - 12:47 am:   

Has anyone mentioned Sarban's RINGSTONES anthology?
Or: The Unconsoled By Kazuo Ishiguro ?
Des
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2003 - 06:17 am:   

Brendan: Thanks for the info. I'll check it out. I remember at the time I picked up The Tunnel (it was a black covered mass market edition) I could have gotten the Heroes and Tombs one also but didn't. Now I guess it's out to the used books sites on the internet. I'm interested though for sure.

Best,

Jeff
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Rhys
Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2003 - 07:51 am:   

Did someone mention Anna Kavan?
ICE is brilliant.
Her short stories can be pretty awesome too.

Did someone mention Amos Tutuola?
THE PALM WINE DRINKARD is so bizarre it's in a class of its own!

The works of Georges Bataille are almost unbearable.

Three novels by D.M. Thomas -- ARARAT, SWALLOW, SPHINX. A loose trilogy. Far superior to his more famous THE WHITE HOTEL.

Thomas Disch? THE BUSINESSMAN and 334 are his best novels...

A beautiful short piece by Carlos Fuentes called AURA.

AURORA by Michel Leiris.
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JT Lindroos
Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2003 - 09:38 am:   

On Leena Krohn:

A very easy place to start is Sphinx or Robot, children's stories, web only, short and delightful: http://www.kaapeli.fi/krohn/sphinx/

Her website is: http://www.kaapeli.fi/krohn/, mostly in Finnish though links to some translated work.
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Jeff VanderMeer
Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2003 - 02:50 pm:   

This is great--thanks for all of these wonderful suggestions. I think if you'll keep posting them, I'll get caught up with reading them and by the end of the year post a more definitive 200-book list on my Web site.

I guess I'm curious--how many of you have read Brooks Hansen's The Chess Garden? One of my favorite books.
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GabrielM
Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2003 - 06:30 pm:   

I've read it and I agree it's excellent. Well worthy of inclusion on any neocanonical list!

Did you read PERLMAN'S ORDEAL? I thought it was very well-written but somewhat baffling, I couldn't quite figure out what he was trying to do at the end.

I haven't read his latest, the novel where Napoleon is a character.
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GabrielM
Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2003 - 06:39 pm:   

Jeff F -- As for THE TUNNEL, I read it many years ago in high school (assigned reading, would you believe). First person narrative of an Argentine painter's descent into insanity and criminality following an affair with a woman who may be involved with another, if I recall correctly. It's a classic of existentialist Latin American literature, but Sabato's never really been my cup of tea, I must admit.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2003 - 10:23 am:   

I've read The Chess Garden. Brilliant book, one of my favourites of all time.
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DF Lewis
Posted on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 02:12 pm:   

I've suddenly realised that a name seems to be missing from all these lists here and elsewhere, unless I'm mistaken. A fantasy writer that had an enormous influence on me -- and tends to be forgotten these days. (I've even inexcusably forgotten him, till today!) A massive figure.
He wrote The Sot-Weed Factor,Chimera, Giles Goat Boy, Sabbatical, Letters among many others.
John Barth, of course.
Des
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Jeff VanderMeer
Posted on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 03:23 pm:   

Yes! I was going to post about him. I thought it odd, too. And I meant to have him on my list to begin with.
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JT Lindroos
Posted on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 04:10 pm:   

Ismail Kadare wrote an interesting Kafkaesque novel called THE PALACE OF DREAMS, which AFAIK is the only of his translated works to be of 'fantasy' interest. And did anybody mention Victor Pelevin? A very interesting Russian writer -- YELLOW ARROW is a good, brief introduction with some wonderful dream-logic applied to a very lucid prose style.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 09:59 pm:   

I'm glad to see a vote for Ballard's Unlimited Dream Company - that book is a really magical accomplishment. Andreyev's Red Laugh is also a must read, but absolutely harrowing. And I agree, a bit of Lovecraft is needed - and a bit of Ligotti, too.
I'm surprised to see no one has yet spoken up for Lindsay's Voyage to Arcturus - unless I missed something.
Sologub - I read "The Petty Demon" in translation some time ago; I remember it well, if not especially vividly. A neathderthal-provincial bureaucrat public teacher type is plagued by the attentions of a tiny, barely-there provincial demon.
Brautigan - Dreaming of Babylon and Sombrero Fallout I read long ago, but I have fond memories of both. They both have the sort of resigned-absurdist air of the sixties and seventies about them, by which I don't mean that they are dated. Brautigan was a highly expressive and funny-minded writer.

Other Golden Oldies:

The Chateau d'Algol - Julien Gracq
The Blind Owl - Sadegh Hedayat
Shapes in the Fire - M. P. Shiel
The Three Impostors, "The White People" - Arthur Machen
The House of Dr. Dee - Peter Ackroyd
Watership Down - Richard Adams (there, I said it, and I'm glad)
Anything by Tove Jansson
Phantastes - George MacDonald
Aurelia - Gerard de Nerval
Short Stories - Bioy Casares (very gently fantastic)
Strange Forces - Leopoldo Lugones
Death Sentence, Aminadab, The Most High - Maurice Blanchot
Kafka's Diaries
Becalmed - J.K. Huysmans
The Book of Disquietude - Fernando Pessoa
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - S.T. Coleridge
The Four Zoas - William Blake
Paris Spleen (prose poems) - Baudelaire
Grendel - John Gardner
The Dark Domain - Stephane Grabinski
Pan - Knut Hamsun
Hoffmann's Tales
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson
Holderlin's Poetry
The Supermale - Alfred Jarry
Dark Gods - T.E.D. Klein
The Futurological Congress - Stanislaw Lem
The Golem - Gustave Meyrinck
Moby Dick - Herman Melville
Malpertuis - Jean Ray
Poe's Stories
Poetry of Georg Trakl, or Rimbaud
ANYTHING BY WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS - especially The Cities of the Red Night
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Mike Simanoff
Posted on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 10:52 pm:   

Those are some good recommendations, Mike. Jeff has Arcturus as #31 on his list.

A few more that I forgot:
Karel Capek, War With the Newts (I think Capek's an underappreciated genius who has extra appeal for genre fans--his detective stories collected as Tales From Two Pockets are also great)

Andrei Platonov, The Foundation Pit

Viktor Pelevin, Omon Ra and Buddha's Little Finger (the latter is not considered his best, but I still think it's worth reading)

Daniil Kharms, The Man With the Black Coat (absurdism at its BEST)

Cynthia Ozick, The Puttermesser Papers, The Messiah of Stockholm (also recommended is her short story "The Pagan Rabbi")

and speaking of conspicuous absences: Avram Davidson, The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 02:19 am:   

Ahhh, and now I hate you, VanderMeer. The delivery guy woke me this morning bearing a box of at least seven books. Now I have to read them. See what lists can do?
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Rhys
Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 04:08 am:   

Donald Barthelme.
What about him???
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DF Lewis
Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 07:32 am:   

Yes, I certainly enjoyed the stories of Barthelme when you encouraged me to read them some number of years ago. I must re-read them.
And what about John Fowles. 'The Magus' certainly has the feel of fantasy and really had a major effect on me in the sixties, as did 'The Sot-Weed Factor' by John Barth.
Who can possibly argue that both these novels shouldn't be in everybody's all time top ten??
Des
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JeffV
Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 06:55 pm:   

Jesus Christ! And I hate ALL of you. This must be another HUNDRED books to seek out.

Jay--I hate you, too. For having seven extra books I don't have. ;)
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JeffV
Posted on Tuesday, February 18, 2003 - 06:56 pm:   

I read part of Perelman's Ordeal. I really couldn't get into it. But, you know, a book like Chess Garden comes along once every ten years.
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Jorge
Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2003 - 04:53 pm:   

Hum... OK, some suggestions:

Taking the risk of repeating myself (but whaddahell), Saramago. Blindness, first and foremost, and then the rest of 'em novels I suggested up in Rhys Hughes forum.

Did anyone mention Capek? He's got some wild things, whose english titles I do not know. Sorry. One is about a war with a species of intelligent newts originally from Indonesia (or is it the Pacific?), the other about a factory producing divinity.

And, yes, Gabriel García Marquez's Cien Años de Soledad. After all, he got a Nobel out of it...

Know an old british XVIII c. aristocrat going by the name Horace Walpole? He wrote 6 stories he called "hyeroglyphic stories" that are deliciously absurd. Or at least the two of them I did read are... :-)

Bradbury. Anyone mentioned Bradbury? Everything he wrote until recently, even his "americana" stories, is worthwile. He's a lot better at short lengths than in novels, though - the only novel of his I really loved was Fahrenheit 451, but that's not fantasy (or is it?)

What else? I'm certainly forgetting things. I always forget things...
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 04:01 am:   

John Hawkes. He always gets forgotten...

Barrington Bayley. Brian Aldiss. John Sladek.

Nobody has mentioned Umberto Eco yet, have they? THE NAME OF THE ROSE is a classic.

Louis de Bernieres's SENOR VIVA AND THE COCA LORD.

Flann O'Brien! THE THIRD POLICEMAN!

(By the way, Des, THE SOT-WEED FACTOR is probably my favourite ever novel!)
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Jorge
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 06:09 am:   

Waitaminute! Waitagoddamnminute!!

No Calvino yet?! How can it be?! Jeez!

Read all of it! Now! Invisible Cities is a marvel, his absurd novels are wonderful, even his compilation of the italian folk tales is fascinating!...
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 07:07 am:   

Boa tarde, Jorge!

Or should I say boa TARDY???

Because you're late! Scroll right back to the beginning of this discussion and then do a word search for "Calvino"... Tell me how far down you get!

:-)

But why no Jorge Amado?
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Peggy H
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 07:21 am:   

I'll recommend the rest of Louis de Bernier's trilogy as well:

The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts
Senor Vivo & the Coca Lords
The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman
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Jorge
Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2003 - 07:48 am:   

woopsie...

Guess I kinda missed that one. Good choices!

Regarding Jorge Amado, well, to tell the trouth I much prefer his realistic fiction to his ghostly ironies. I didn't like Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos all that much - it ranked far below on my tastes than, say, Capitães da Areia. So, although I find him a great writer, I woldn't put him among the indispensible fantasists...

(and right now I realized Calvino is present in Jeff's original list as well! And with two books!... This must be another discredited desease: selective blindness)
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2003 - 02:10 pm:   

Hi, Jeff,

Yesterday, I went down to the neighborhood book barn and left with an armload of titles from yer list. Oy, I have no room at home for this stuff. This afternoon on the train into work, I started Calvino's "Winter's Night." Hooked from Page 1. I think I was getting odd stares from other commuters for giggling in the corner. Anyway, thanx for the reading list and for helping to make my daily train ride more interesting.
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JeffV
Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2003 - 04:46 pm:   

Oh, excellent, Jonathan! I'm glad. I'll be doing the same re all of these wonderful suggestions above. That Calvino is addictive.

Jeff V.
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Monday, February 24, 2003 - 09:10 pm:   

I'd like to wave my hand for 'The Hearing Trumpet' by Leonora Carrington. It's an utterly charming surreal book about the occupants of a home for senile women. The heroine is Marian Leatherby, ninety-two years old: 'Indeed I do have a short grey beard which conventional people would find repulsive. Personally I find it rather gallant.'
It's that rare beast - a surrealist novel, and a very wise novel, with scarcely a hint of darkness or melancholy. It's a romp all the way through.

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benpeek
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 03:27 am:   

fine lists, but i think it could do with some haruki murakami. his novel THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE is worth attention, if for nothing more than its ambition. it's not perfect, and i hear the translation chopped twenty five thousand words from it, but it is still a fine, strange book with many strange and bizarre things.

i'm also fond of HARD BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD, which he also wrote.
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Rhys
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 03:37 am:   

Leonora Carrington was also an amazing painter.
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Jay C
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 05:51 am:   

I had a debate with someone about HARD BOILED WONDERLAND. I found nothing particularly new or inspiring in it. If you read it from a perspective of someone not steeped in genre tropes, then perhaps, but a lot of the stuff was awfully familiar.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 08:58 am:   

Miniscule nit to pick: On your list, Jeff, you list Calvino's If Upon a Winter's Night a Traveler, which is commendable, but I just thought I'd point out that the proper title is If on a winter's night a traveller, with "on" and only one capital letter. Wouldn't have pointed it out if not for the fact that you mentioned using this list for lectures, rather than just for fun.

Incidentally, why hasn't anyone mentioned you?
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JeffV
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 09:00 am:   

It's impolite to mention me on my own message board! Besides, I might not deserve it.

Re Calvino--good point! I'll change it.

I DO plan on compiling all of these recommendations at some point and putting them in one message posted here.
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Brendan
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 09:41 am:   

By the way. It seems impossible not to have Balzac's Seraphita on this list. The Wild Ass's Skin is also very cool. Villiers de l'Isle Adam's Contes cruel should also be on there, as should Marcel Shwob's Imaginary Lives and Prosper Mérimée's Venus of Isle. Gautier also has a book called Avatar which is very good.

Brendan
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 11:23 am:   

and hear I thought *I* was the only one who liked/knew about Hedayat's "the Blind Owl". Kudo's to Mike Cisco for mentioning it before I could.... For anybody intested in reading this one, see http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/BlindOwl/blindowl.html

Its not the translation that I am familiar with... but it'll do, and it gives some interesting background to the life and writings of Hedayat.
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 11:32 am:   

Leonora Carrington still is an amazing painter - she's still alive and working: http://www.carringtonleo.5u.com/leoweb/index2.htm

(Hi Ben! Fancy running into you here!)
Re Murakami: I had trouble with Hard Boiled Wonderland. It was almost really good. I liked the low-key weirdness, and most of the way through it trod along lightly as a postmodern (sorry, can't think of a better word) spec fic. But the explanation at the end was very clunky. I felt it was a story that really didn't want to have all its secrets revealed; after all the nicely judged ambiguity that preceded it, the end was rather a train wreck. If he was going to say that stuff, I think he needed to foreshadow it a bit. (Unless he did, and I was too dumb to notice it.) Maybe I should blame the translation.
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Jay C
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 11:40 am:   

It's Antipodean fishiness. I suffer from it too. Turns you into a dag.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 11:48 am:   

Jeff: I feel horribly foolish sitting here prattling about the title of a Calvino book for two successive posts while machine-gunned bullets of erudition whizz past my ears, not to mention over my head, but I just thought I'd pop in again to correct myself: it isn't "traveller" with two Ls but "traveler" with one, as you had it in your original list (minus the capitalisation, of course).

As for the impoliteness bit, I can understand not wanting to mention yourself when lecturing on fantasy, but there really isn't any excuse for your City of Saints and Madmen not being on a list of top fantasy used in any other context. I say this based only on "Dradin, in Love", read on InfinityPlus, not yet having been able to procure a copy of the book myself, sadly.
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 12:35 pm:   

Jay: glad to know I can blame it on my culture. And my secret life as a dag.
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Jay C
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 12:42 pm:   

Actually, it my secret life too and my culture, even though I ran away from it. Hmmmmm. There's a title there. "My Secret Life as a Dag."
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JeffV
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 12:52 pm:   

You Aussies are crazy.

Jeff V.
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 01:22 pm:   

Too right, Jeff. Mad as snakes. It's the loneliness and isolation. And the football.

...Actually I'm probably more a bogan than a dag. (Does anyone outside Oz know what a bogan is? I so want to use the word in a story, but it's no good if no one knows what it means, because you really can't explain it...)
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Jay C
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 02:27 pm:   

And the footy. And the meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars.

Oh, you can use bogan only if you use bodgie, bushpig and bludger in the same tale.
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benpeek
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 02:56 pm:   

hi kirsten. *waves*

with HARD BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD, i agree that i would have prefered to have no explanation, and a bit more ambiguity in the end, but i think it would have needed to be a different book for that. (though i thought he did forshadow it, myself.) still, there was a kind of madness to the ideas that makes it memorable, and i liked how there was a style change in the writing for each storyline.

and hi jay. (also a *waves*)

i disagree that it didn't offer anything new, but i guess that's taste and what you take away from something.

and lastly, i blame cultural madness on sport obsession and how it can be linked to mullet haircuts. at least that's my theory.
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Jay C
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 06:04 pm:   

Aye, all is personal takeaway, like Hungry Jacks.

Like flanny shirts and shaggin' wagons.
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Forrest
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 08:07 pm:   

I hate you all. I'm now hallucinating - the typing is coming as an automatic response - and seeing my life laid out before me. I see myself walking along a looping, spiralling causeway to the stars. My path is composed of the pages of all these wonderful books that I must now read. I grow older, more decrepit with each step, head down, reading the works of the masters. There is no end in sight.

But let me add a few more. Mike mentioned Pelevin - I recommend 4 BY PELEVIN as a good introduction. And Alan mentioned (way back there) Ben Marcus - I'd recommend NOTABLE AMERICAN WOMEN. A bizarre look at a bizarre family, all shot through with Marcus's uncanny ability to completely decontextualize a word and make it work where it ought not. Finally, Rikki Ducornet's THE JADE CABINET - one of the most under-appreciated masterworks of fantasy.

Now I'm going to go lay prone on the floor of my local public library and weep.

Forrest
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 08:29 pm:   

Well, don't forget Ducornet's THE FOUNTAINS OF NEPTUNE - another one of the most under-appreciated masterworks of fantasy.
In fact, if I could name one author who I think merits far more fame and adulation than she has received, it would be Rikki Ducornet.
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JeffV
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 08:35 pm:   

Yes--in fact, Fantastic Metropolis is going to do an extended feature with her sometime this year. She is under-rated--but mostly in genre circles. Her name carries great weight in mainstream circles. And she has tirelessly promoted other writers throughout her career. She is not only supremely talented--she's also one of the nicest people I've ever talked to.

Jeff V.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 - 09:26 pm:   

Forrest: "I hate you all. I'm now hallucinating - the typing is coming as an automatic response - and seeing my life laid out before me. I see myself walking along a looping, spiralling causeway to the stars. My path is composed of the pages of all these wonderful books that I must now read. I grow older, more decrepit with each step, head down, reading the works of the masters. There is no end in sight."

KJ Bishop: "Well, don't forget Ducornet's THE FOUNTAINS OF NEPTUNE...."
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Forrest
Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2003 - 06:12 pm:   

Rikki has also taught a number of outstanding literary fantasists in her tenure at Denver University: Catherine Kasper, Amy England, and Joanna Howard (among many others) learned under her tutelage. I am confident that she will be remembered as one of the great surrealist femenist writers of the twentieth (and twenty first) century.

And Jeff is right - she may be one of the nicest people on the planet.

Forrest
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 03:50 pm:   

Hi, Jeff, I've bought or have on order most of the books on yer list (minus the ones out of print or that I already had), and I'm looking forward to much mind-bending reading. But a few questions:

Do you know whether there is a substantial difference between Kafka's "Collected Stories" and "The Complete Stories"?

I can't find a listing, in print or out, of Ballard's "Collected Stories." Are you sure on the title? Would the "Best of" collection out now be an acceptable substitute??

Are you referring to the male or female version of Pavic's "Dictionary"?

And is there a collected edition of the Master Li chronicles, or are you talking about the series in general?

This is fun! Why not blow the list up to an even hundred.....
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JeffV
Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 06:22 pm:   

Hi, Jonathan. I've got the titles wrong on the Ballard and the Kafka. I'm referring to the hermaphrodite version of Pavic's dictionary. There is a collected edition of the Master Li chronicles.

Jeff
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 07:03 pm:   

Jonathan: Does your Kafka have a story, "Bright Morning?"

Best,

Jeff
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JeffV
Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 07:57 pm:   

I would imagine not. Only the 1943 edition from Jamison, Ltd., and the 1963 edition from Chatto & Windus have that story in them. And that only because Kafka's descendents didn't know those editions were coming out. Otherwise, they would have tried to suppresss it. I have seen the story in the British museum in the Jamison edition--a very tattered copy of the book--and thought it brilliant, but cannot for the life of me remember what it was about. I also don't know why the Kafka estate wanted it suppressed.
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 03:37 am:   

JeffV: I keep waiting for them to get past the legalities of it and get it in one of the collections. Supposedly there is a violet colored edition out there floating around with the story in it. I've yet to see it but I know people who know people who said they have held it in their hands. That remains to be seen. Met one kind of not so with it individual who said the story carried a curse. People will believe any superstitious shit that comes along.

Best,


Jeff

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Krouch
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 04:27 am:   

Jeffs V & F:
I have heard that "Bright Morning" is a type of vampire tale. Or at least in the little that Werfel and Brod commented on it that is what they alluded to. Seems odd for Kafka.

Krouch
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Luís
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 10:57 am:   

I think I saw that Kafka story in an old anthology that was published in Portugal during the 1960s. "Manhã Luminosa", I think was the title. I'm not surprised it slipped past the attention of the Kafka estate, I've heard of editors who collected anthologies without a hint of permission from copyright holders. (Even a few years ago, certain publishers I shall not mention arranged scams so they didn't have to pay for part or even the entirety of copyright fees. But that's another story . . .)

Anyway, I can't remember what the story's about either, but I'll try to track it down for ya . . .

Best, Luís
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Krouch
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 11:26 am:   

Luis --

Thank you kindly.

Krouch
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 01:30 pm:   

Mr. Ford,

I don't actually have the Kafka book just yet. See, there is a "Collected Stories" and a "Complete Stories." I was just wondering which one to buy or whether there was any major difference between the two.

(Loved "The Physiognomy," by the way. "Memoranda" looks like it might be next after I finish the Calvino book I'm reading.)
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GabrielM
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 01:59 pm:   

I remember my old pal Maqroll was always trying to get me to read "Bright Morning" ("Manana Luminosa", he called it) on those lazy days when we would pilot our steamer down the Magdalena river from Honda all the way to Barranquilla. Best summer job I ever had. It was in some fantasy anthology he was always carrying, maybe the one edited by Borges? In any event, I never read it, but I'm sure you can find it on ebay or abebooks.
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JeffV
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 02:01 pm:   

Was that the Jorge Luis Borges Pocket Guide to Metaphysical Diseases? There's some verbiage about that guide in the Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases...so probably not.

Jeff V.
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 02:48 pm:   

Jonathan: Thanks for taking the time to read The Physiognomy. Glad you liked it. I'm also a big fan of Calvino. My favorite is The Baron in the Trees. Have you read that one?

Best,

Jeff
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Krouch
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 02:51 pm:   

Jeff F --
I have also read The Physiognomy and it is my great displeasure to give you this piece of advice. Don't quit your day job. If one is a champion of the tedious, Memoranda is a slight improvement.

Krouch
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Ellen
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 05:53 pm:   

Jeff F.
I loved The Physiognomy--it's the first thing I read of yours and was delighted to have discovered a new talent toiling in our field. <g>
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 06:03 pm:   

Jeff F -
There are three books that made me want to write: Maldoror, Viriconium Nights, and The Physiognomy.

I may have already said this, but what the heck, it's worth saying again in public.
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PeterW
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 06:15 pm:   

This is my first post on one of these lists, so I'll probably put my foot in it, but...

It was a real pleasure reading these best-ofs, and I do believe that all my favorites are here in one place or another. I was esp. surprised to see things like "The Seven Who Fled", "Blood Meridian", "Arabian Nightmare", "Riddley-Walker", "Saragossa Found in Saragossa", things that would all be on my best-of.

I did fail to catch any mention of Don Webb's "Uncle Ovid's Exercise Book". This was an omission, right? And to make it 4-cents, I'd put one of Lucius Shepard's short story books ahead of "Life During Wartime". Story collections count, right?

BTW, "Leviathan Three" was stunning, JeffV and Forrest!
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JeffV
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 06:35 pm:   

Thanks, Peter re Lev. Appreciate it.

Yes!!! I love Webb's book. I can't believe I didn't have it on the list. And I'd definitely put one of Shepard's collections ahead of "Life". I think I was just lazy in terms of tracking down the titles. I've mostly read his short fiction in magazines.

Krouch--you weren't serious, were you? Were you pulling our leg(s)?

Jeff V
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Krouch
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 06:57 pm:   

Jeff V --

Forgive my bluntness, but Ford's prose is like a thoroughbred with a head at either end. I keep his novels in the medicine cabinet for those nights when I can not sleep. Veritable draughts from the river Lethe. A great service to mankind.

Krouch
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JeffV
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 08:47 pm:   

Krouch:

Are you perhaps in fact Krug? Or Flay?

Jeff V
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Krouch
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 08:53 pm:   

Jeff V --

I am not Morg, I am not Imorg.

Krouch
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 09:21 pm:   

Jeff Ford -

Regarding "Bright Morning:" I may have heard something to the effect that an English translation had been prepared and published under a different name. Can you verify? I seem to recall it was one of his animal stories; I ran across it so long ago, and read it so hastily, that I really can recover only the vaguest impression of it - was it an aquatic animal?

"The Castle of Crossed Destinies" is one of my favorites from Calvino, although I don't seem to run across references to it often.

Luis - say! Have you ever run across anything by a Brazilian named Floriano Martins? I've had my eye out for his name ever since I ran across his bit in one of the Dedalus surrealist anthologies.
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 10:18 pm:   

Ellen & KJ: Thanks for your votes of confidence. I greatly appreciate them.

Michael: I'm not sure if there is an aquatic animal. From what I heard there is an old man in it who steals the soul of a young writer. Whether the young writer takes to the water or the air has never been verified for me. Someone evaporates at the end.
That's all I have been able to pick up.The vampirism comes in in the transfer of power, I think.

Krouch: Thanks for the advice.

Best,

Jeff
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 10:21 pm:   

Jeff F,

Haven't read "Baron," but since I'm enjoying "Winter's Night" so much, I picked a copy up the other day when I was tracking down titles from Jeff VDM's list. Sounds like fun from the back cover synopsis.
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 10:36 pm:   

Jonathan: Tried to start that Winter's Night a couple times and never got too far. Let me know what you think when you get to it. I liked The Non-Existent Knight also. And those stories in Jaguar Sun.

Best,

Jeff
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 10:49 pm:   

Any place on the master list for Michael Bishop, Michael Swanwick, James Morrow, Paul Di Filippo or Nicholson Baker's "The Fermata"???
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Luís
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 03:37 am:   

Michael: I heard of Floriano Martins, but haven't read any of his poetry. Sorry I can't be of any more help . . .

Best, Luís
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JeffV
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 06:39 am:   

My wife Ann tells me Bishop's Brittle Innings is a great book. I've mostly read his individual short stories. I must confess--I am not a big Swanwick fan, but it's more along the lines of him being incomprehensible to me than bad--he's just in my blind spot. Morrow--he gets trapped between satire and psychological realism too often, but there are a couple novels that might make it. Paul Di Filippo--most definitely! Haven't read the Fermata.

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RobertW
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 07:22 am:   

Brittle Innings is a pretty great book.

I haven't read Physiognomy yet, but I was one of the five or so people at JeffF's Dixon Place reading when it came out, and I was totally drawn in and intrigued. Okay, I'm slow. But I did start reading Portrait of Mr. Charbuque last night.

Robert
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 07:40 am:   

JeffV,
I think much of Swanwick's short fiction is excellent and I very much prefer his stories to his novels. Have you read many of his stories?
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Forrest Aguirre
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 08:47 am:   

Peter: Very glad you enjoyed Lev 3.

Jeff F: I think the Physiognomy was and is brilliant. I'm still reeling (years later) at the transformation that Cley goes through. Stunning and unexpected.
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JeffV
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 09:44 am:   

Ellen:

Granted, I've read novels, not short stories. I should probably check out the short work. It's not a good parallel, but I love much of David Morrell's short fiction but can't get into the novels. It may well be one of those situations. I very much love Swanwick's nonfiction. I'll check out the short work.

JeffV.
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JeffV
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 09:45 am:   

One thing about this list of top fantasy--I'm loathe to put too many recent books on it. I think most books that we don't have at least a decade's distance on shouldn't be on an overall best of list until they've had a chance to sink in and we've had a chance to read and re-read them.

JeffV.
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 09:46 am:   

Forrest: Thanks for the kind words. Hope your work on the Lev#4 is going well.

Ellen: I really like the Periodic Table stories Swanwick is doing at Sci Fiction. The pressures of the task are creating all kinds of happy accident and wild scenarios. I'd love to see that entire thing collected into a book. I think as a whole it's brilliant.

Best,

Jeff
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 10:09 am:   

Jeff F,
Michael Swanwick is in negotiations for a book version as I write this <g>

I don't know what we'll do once he's done. Maybe I can persuade him to write me a normal length story or novelette.
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 10:54 am:   

I based my Swanwick recommendation on the short stories I've read. I confess I haven't read any of his novels tho I have a stack of em in one of my to-read piles.

Bishop's "Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas" is a hoot (and over 10 years old...)

I took Morrow's "Only Begotten Daughter" (13-year-old book) with me on a vacation to New Orleans. Any book that can hold my attention in the middle of that spectacle, I think, is pretty special.

And "The Fermata" is like an old "Twilight Zone" bit applied to Penthouse Forum. The literati went lollipops, but it's basically very elegantly written smut. Probly onea the filthiest books I've ever read.

Not saying any of these titles should shove out any of the books already on the list. Just some further reading suggestions.
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JeffV
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 10:57 am:   

Just wondering how many have read this book:

25. The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica, John Calvin Bachelor

And what you guys think of the author. And what the heck is he up to now?

JeffV.
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Krouch
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 11:40 am:   

Jeff V --

Bachelor sucks the farts out of old couches. A poor man's Pynchon. 60% less laughs and 80% more yawns. The Dalkey Archive is the book, my friend, if you enjoy the historical and the hysterical.

Krouch
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JeffV
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 01:13 pm:   

Okay, Krouch, since you're in an evaluating mood, what say we give you some more fodder for your curmudgeonly-ness.

What do you think of:

Michael Cisco
Umberto Eco
Georges Perec
Angela Carter
Rikki Ducornet

Jeff
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 01:33 pm:   

Couldn't track the Bachelor down. It's out of print, so I'm gonna start prowling the used bookstores.
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Krouch
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 01:41 pm:   

Jeff V --

Back to divinity school for Cisco.
Eco -- profundity for pseudo-intellectuals
Perec -- a snorefest
Carter-- too many female characters
Ducornet -- show me a bucket of jello and...

Krouch
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GabrielM
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 02:16 pm:   

I think it's Batchelor. I read PROA many years ago (I suspect because Pringle included it in his book on 100 top sf novels, and there was a time in the late eighties when I read them all) but I can't remember a damned thing about it. I'll have to look at Pringle's book, see if it jogs my memory. But I don't believe I particularly enjoyed it, otherwise I'd remember more about it, sorry.
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JeffV
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 02:37 pm:   

Yes--it's Batchelor.

It's a harrowing novel. It's not a fun read just as Full Metal Jacket is not a fun movie. It's stuck with me for a long time.

Jeff V.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 03:02 pm:   

HA! If Krouch thinks the Divinity Student is bad, he should read my later stuff - much, much worse.
I have long felt that a systematic boredomics is needed; boredom is a sort of sixth sense, the dowsing wand of taste. Must the truly Bored find their boredom boring? Certainly, any discussion of boredom must be boring, but, as one perseveres in a boring pursuit, one is liable to find it becomes interesting, or get interested in the boredom. Or fall asleep; and what is more interesting than your own sleep?
My work exists that Sleep might be far dispersed ... you are going to sleep ... you are going to sleep ...
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JeffV
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 03:06 pm:   

This is specifically why I created the metafictional aspects of City of Saints. It can act as an excellent relief for insomnia or as an exciting docu-drama of squid. Either way, it is fun for the entire pod.

Michael--the divinity student was bad. He was very, very bad. He was naughty. He stole people's BRAINS and looked at them like you or I would look at tea leaves. You can't get much worse than that.
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Krouch
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 03:14 pm:   

I take it back then, Cisco is a genius. And you, VanderMeer, a pod wrangler of the first water.


Krouch
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Luís
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 04:05 pm:   

So, Krouch, which books would you suggest we read? You seem to be a person of extremely demanding tastes.

Best, Luís
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Page Kramer, RN.
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 05:31 pm:   

Dear Mr. VanderMeer:
I am Mr. Krouch's nurse. I just noticed this evening that he has been sneaking use of the internet. He is not allowed to be online unattended. His estate is paying exorbinant fees to porn sites as it is. I caught him at your site and traced his comments back. I apologize for all of the negative comments he has posted on your page here. I should have been more vigilant. Don't think too harshly of him. He was at one time a well respected literary critic, but over ten years ago he had a psychotic episode and has not been the same since. A colleague of his told me it came about as a result of him trying to trace the origin of a story by the writer, Franz Kafka. Now all he reads is a thin volume over and over again -- a book called The Blind Owl. The pages are falling out and the cover art can hardly be distinguished. He is really more to be pitied. I promise, I will watch him more closely. He will not bother you again.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 10:38 pm:   

Thanks for the dose of meta fiction. Very enjoyable. The above post was almost as much fun as Ray Garton's "In a Dark Place".
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JeffV
Posted on Sunday, March 02, 2003 - 08:12 am:   

LOL! I wish I could say Krouch is me, but he's not. Neither is his nurse. I have a decent idea of who it is, but s/he will have to step forward of his/her own accord to take a bow.

Jeff V.
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Disciple of the Meerkat
Posted on Sunday, March 02, 2003 - 08:44 am:   

Maybe the meerkat knows.
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Rhys
Posted on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 03:44 am:   

Did Krouch mention THE DALKEY ARCHIVE? I'm assuming he's referring to the excellent novel by Flann O'Brien? If so, then I agree with him that it's a truly excellent piece of work, combining sadness and humour, realism and absurdism in an almost perfect fusion...

If, on the other hand, he meant The Dalkey Archive Press, publishers of Felipe Alfau's two novels, LOCOS: A COMEDY OF GESTURES and CHROMOS, both of which combine sadness and humour, realism and absurdism in almost perfect fusions, then I also agree with him...

I like Cisco too, by the way!
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Sreenivas SL
Posted on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 03:52 am:   

The whispered spells of forgotten shadows -

Jakob Von Gunten - Robert Walser

Mist - Miguel de Unamuno

One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand - Luigi Pirandello

The Root And The Flower - LH Myers

Aegypt - John Crowley

Memoirs of a Midget - Walter de La Mare

Green Mansions - WH Hudson

Le Grand Meaulnes - Henri Alain-Fournier

The Green Child - Herbert Read

Christopher Homm - CH Sisson

Pedro Paramo - Juan Rulfo

Paradiso - Jose Lezama Lima

The Devil to Pay In The Backlands - Joao Guimaraes Rosa

Mythago Wood & Lavondyss - Robert Holdstock

The Tartar Steppe - Dino Buzzati

The Story of the Stone - Cao Xuequin

Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

Shame - Salman Rushdie

Law and Order - Claude Ollier

Kwaidan - Lafcadio Hearn

Musashi - Eiji Yoshikawa

Mardi - Herman Melville

Insatiability - Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz

Strange Life of Ivan Osokin - PD Ouspensky

Nightwood - Djuna Barnes

Dan Yack - Blaise Cendrars

Poems In the Rough - Paul Valery

....the journey into the maw of madness is strewn with jewels.
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PeterW
Posted on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 11:19 am:   

Sreenivas:

"Mythago Wood", definitely. "Musashi"? Great reading, but even with my broad definition of fantasy, I don't think it belongs. Thanks though for the long list of authors and titles I've never heard before; now I have some new (and hopefully strange) things to be on the lookout for. Still have never gotten through page 10 of "Le Grand Meaulnes", but hope to someday.

JeffV:

My own favorite Lucius SS collection would be a toss-up between "Jaguar Hunter" and "Ends of the Earth".

What's the official publishing date of "City of Saints and Madmen"? Just so I know when that 10-year acid-test has matured and can put it on my list ;-)

And while I'm thinking of it, I'd have to add "Nine Hundred Grandmothers" by R.A. Lafferty.
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 11:35 am:   

Hundreds reminds me:

The 500 hats of Bartholomew Cubbins

The Lorax

The Letters Beyond Z

by Dr. Seuss :-)

(I have a friend with a one-year-old son. The Letters Beyond Z is the second book I bought him, after Where the Wild Things Are. I can't wait til he's old enough to read.)
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JeffV
Posted on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 07:14 pm:   

Anyone read Maurice Blanchot's Aminadab?

JeffV
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Mike Simanoff
Posted on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 07:48 pm:   

I haven't read Aminadab, but when you brought up Blanchot I was reminded of his contemporary, Edmond Jabes, who wrote a very interesting and surreal novel called The Book of Questions and some other innovative (and sometimes abstruse) stuff.
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Krou
Posted on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 08:02 pm:   

Damn that Nurse Kramer. I have her momentarily locked in the closet. I must be quick for she will soon be slithering out under the door. Let me just add that skepticism is the appropriate response to someone who has claimed to have read Mardi, but when they claim to have enjoyed it, that's a sure sign they are full of stuffing.
Oh, yes, and The Blind Owl
Shit, here she
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JeffV
Posted on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 08:08 pm:   

I think I will have to pay for better nurses to keep Krouch restrained.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 09:42 pm:   

a) AMINADAB - Very like Kafka, even without the pathos or the humor. What you would expect from a French Kafka - cooler, more analytical. Blanchot's non-fiction, especially The Space of Literature and The Infinite Conversation, is better than his fiction, but there's a great deal of good in all the novels of his that I've read.

b) MARDI - I'm a Melville specialist, so I've read Mardi. Twice. And no, you can't enjoy it. Like a great many American writers of his day, and especially the New Yorkers, for some reason Rabelais was the Main Man - you were doing Rabelais or you were shinola. Melville does a puke-horking Rabelais, but, as the novel grinds on, you can see the light beginning to dawn, or rather the dark is beginning to descend. He opened the book wanting to write a sprawling satirical philosophical romp, apparently in the confidence that it would all end up all right. By the close of the narrative, he's written himself into total philosophical vertigo. So, painful as MARDI is to read, it sets up the pins he will blast clear through the back wall of the alley in MOBY DICK: Electric Boogaloo (title later emended by editorial recommendation).
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Sreenivas SL
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2003 - 12:26 am:   

Dear Mr K(G)rouch,

We all need a naysayer (or so I'm told). But surely, in your more lucid hours, you know that it is a critical solecism to hastily ascribe one's personal reactions to everyone else? I would'nt mind having a word with Nurse Kramer :-))

Useful counter-evidence is available here -
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0810116901/qid=1046765055/sr=1-7/r ef=sr_1_7/002-0786405-4459236?v=glance&s=books
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Sreenivas SL
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2003 - 12:30 am:   

"for some reason Rabelais was the Main Man - you were doing Rabelais or you were shinola"

I thought it was Sir Thomas Browne, actually. You see the same sort of thing in someone as recent as John Hawkes.
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2003 - 02:22 am:   

Browne was not the general model, as Rabelais was, for "witty" writing in the New York set in the pre-Civil War era. Young America, at the urging of Cornelius Mathews, was struggling to create a distinctly American literary idiom distinct from the English. Breadth was the answer. Rabelais was seized upon as the blueprint for spacious, windy writing.

Melville's preference for Browne was more personal. Melville never managed to make MARDI gel in part because he was torn between the more extravagant Rabelaisian material ("Rabeelee"), and the more sober Brownean material. He had borrowed books by both authors from Evert Duyckinck, and was also reading Coleridge, Burton, Seneca, MacPherson, Johnson, Berkeley, Shakespeare, and many others, all at the same time. "In me, many worthies recline, and converse." The result being, however, less a symposium than an overall melee!
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Krouch
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2003 - 05:43 am:   

Sreenivas -- Mea Culpa. To quote your Thomas Browne: I am but a rude head that stares asquint at the sun.

Cisco -- Pierre, or The Ambiguities? Friend or Foe?


Krouch
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2003 - 02:49 pm:   

I think PIERRE overreaches itself, too, but it is far better written than MARDI. Definitely worth reading, especially for Plinlimmon and Isabel Mystery Isabel and Mystery (with her dark locks envining her speaking guitar).
After MOBY DICK, I think THE CONFIDENCE MAN is Melville's best work - well, it ties with "Bartleby" for number two, with CLAREL in third.
And I've always loved this bit from the Encantadas:
"For often in scenes of social merriment, and especially at revels held by candle-light in old-fashioned mansions, so that shadows are thrown into the further recesses of an angular and spacious room, making them put on a look of haunted undergrowth of lonely woods, I have drawn the attention of my comrades by my fixed gaze and sudden change of air, as I have seemed to see, slowly emerging from those imagined solitudes, and heavily crawling along the floor, the ghost of a gigantic tortoise, with 'Memento ****' burning in live letters upon his back."
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Jack Haringa
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 04:08 pm:   

In the spirit of wonderful whimsicallity, or whimsical wonder, I would suggest a few more authors to ponder for the list:

Tom Reamy--Blind Voices (published in 1978 and well past the decade cut-off)

Matt Ruff--Fool On the Hill and Sewer, Gas, Electric: The Public Works Trilogy The latter is fairly recent, but as the funniest book ever to poke a stick at Ayn Rand it is well worth looking into. Apparently Ruff has a new book out--a love story between multiple personality sufferers--but I've yet to read it.

William Browning Spencer--particularly Zod Wallop, but any of his novels are worth seeking out even if they may be rather recent. I wish he wrote more.

And speaking of odd Texans, I was glad to see Don Webb's first book mentioned. I recently read his stab at the mystery novel--The Double: An Investigation--which veered into all sorts of unexpected pathways as homage to Dostoevsky, Pynchon, and perhaps Eco, with references to Lovecraft tossed in for good measure.

~Jack~
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Peggy H
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 05:36 pm:   

As long as we're discussing odd Texans, I'll see your William Browning Spencer (one of my favoriites) and raise you a Neal Barrett, Jr., in particular, The Hereafter Gang.
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 06:46 pm:   

Speaking AS an odd Texan, I'll echo the praises of Webb, Spencer and Barrett and add Lewis Shiner's "Glimpses." Bradley Denton: Texan, too, no?? And Howard Waldrop, a transplanted Texan.
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JeffV
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 07:52 pm:   

Convince me on Shiner...

JeffV
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 - 10:44 pm:   

Not sure what you mean by "convince me." Do you mean how does a guy known for his science fiction or suspense fit into a fantasy list? Or are you not convinced about the merits of the book??
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JeffV
Posted on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 08:18 pm:   

Just convince me on Shiner in general. His work doesn't strike me as good or bad. It's just there.

Jeff V.
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jonathan briggs
Posted on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 11:40 pm:   

Well, I guess if he doesn't move you, he doesn't move you, but with the exception of "Frontera," Shiner's always hit home with me. It may be that I'm just partial to authors from the home team, but I think he's a very versatile writer. He does science fiction, fantasy, suspense, hard-boiled, mainstream, then jumps onto something else. He's got that easy, natural storytelling voice that seems to be common among a lot of Texas writers. I particularly liked "Glimpses" because music plays as big a part in my life as literature does. What rock 'n' roll fan hasn't fantasized about the unearthing of some lost treasure from an artist long gone? I think readers whose record collections compete with the bookshelves for their attention would find a lot to like about "Glimpses." Does the opening of "Baba O'Riley" cover you in gooseflesh? Then you might wanna have a look. But if it's just background noise while yer driving around, well, there are plenty of other excellent works being suggested here.

Veering off in another direction, can anyone out there tell me anything about Ray Vukcevich?? While I was shopping online for the final titles on Jeff's list (then moving onto Jeff Ford's list -- it never ends), I came across a Vukcevich collection. Looked interesting, so I tossed it in the basket. I notice he's got a board here, but it's sadly barren.
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Peggy H
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 06:39 am:   

Jonathan, I really enjoyed Meet Me in the Moon Room. I own Man of Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces, but I haven't read it yet.
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JeffV
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 10:14 am:   

PLEASE DO NOT POST TO THIS THREAD--I HAVE CREATED A NEW THREAD, "GREATEST FANTASTICAL BOOKS OF ALL TIME", TO CONTINUE THIS DISCUSSION. ON THAT THREAD I HAVE COLLATED ALL PRIOR SUGGESTIONS INTO ONE MASTER LIST.

Jeff V
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PeterW
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 10:18 am:   

Jonathan,

My record collection and my bookshelves are always at war, but I have to say that reading about rock-n-roll in a novel fairly leaves me flat. I've only read "Slam" and "Deserted Cities of the Heart", both of which do that RnR thang, and while they were good reads, I had a hard time picking up on the backbeat. Perhaps if he mixed in some extra bass or something... dunno. Ditto for John Shirley's "Eclipse" books.

Glad someone brought up "Zod Wallop": great read, but I want to read it again to see if it still holds up. Spencer's been compared a lot with Jonathan Carroll, but I tend to think Carroll's work has a significant edge over his.
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JeffV
Posted on Friday, March 07, 2003 - 10:30 am:   

Peter just got in under the wire.

AGAIN, PLEASE POST TO THE OTHER THREAD FROM NOW ON. THIS THREAD IS TOO LONG AND THUS CUMBERSOME. COME ON OVER TO GREATEST FANTASTICAL BOOKS AND POST THERE.

Jeff V.
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dan f
Posted on Friday, July 01, 2005 - 11:45 am:   

Great lists and discussion. However, I will not get through all this. I like novels that are very well written. For instance, The Gormenghast Trilogy ranks very high for many but is too loose and long for me. I like stuff like The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch or Madoror or Kafka or Poe's Valdemar or say Beirce, that is slightly high brow though I enjoy someone like Rudy Rucker.

Suggestions?
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tristan
Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2005 - 04:00 am:   

im 16 and really getting right into fantasy books dont think of read any of them but just asking where is the lord of the rings trilogy and a land of ice and fire trilogy
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JV
Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2005 - 05:07 am:   

Tristan:

What's the land of ice and fire trilogy?

I think we were talking about stuff other than Tolkien mainly just because everybody knows about him. But there's also a lot of great work out there and when you begin to read more you'll see that Tolkien isn't actually the best there is to read.

JeffV
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scott b
Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - 08:23 am:   

Jeff,

I think Tristan might be talking about George R. R. Martin's series.

But I'm curious, from a reader's perspective, why is Tolkien not the best there is to read? It seems to me that to disparage Tolkien has been the "in" thing to do these past few decades, and I wonder if it is because he doesn't have the decadence, or any postmodern tricks, or that he doesn't use all the tools of modern realistic fiction.
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - 08:48 am:   

No. It's because his prose at the line and paragraph level isn't really that good a lot of the time.

JeffV
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Rhys
Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - 09:08 am:   

As Jeff says, "it's because his prose at the line and paragraph level isn't really that good a lot of the time" AND ALSO "because he doesn't have the decadence, or any postmodern tricks, or that he doesn't use all the tools of modern realistic fiction" AND ALSO because his ideas are poor...
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brian
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 06:38 am:   

I dont see much metion of him. I love Russell Roban.
Mouse & His Child
Riddley Walker
Kleinzeit
Fremder
Medusa Frequency

Also I really love You Bright and Risen Angels by William Vollman

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