My Personal Canon

Anthony (on Twitter as @timesflow) asked people on Twitter to talk about their personal canon – and since I am emotionally unwell today and can’t get anything done I decided to give this a stab. It’s hard, I love making lists as much as anyone and I admire a great many writers and novels, but I’m going to list the writers and books that 1) I would take with me if I had to move and get rid of 99% of my personal library or that I would immediately rebuy if my apartment burns to the ground and 2) had the biggest impact on me as a writer and reader. As a result this list skews more German and more towards older books, despite so many excellent books coming out recently. I’m also limiting myself to 20 fiction books, 20 nonfiction books and 20 poets because, I mean, you know. I’m also writing this in one sitting. I mean the list would probably look different tomorrow. Who knows. Finally, only one book per writer.

Writers

I have one exception: the following 15 writers I cannot possibly pick one book and skip all others. Their whole oeuvre is important to me, in different genres  and across many volumes (paradigmatic here is probably Thomas Bernhard who is one of my favorite poets, playwrights and novelists and whose books in all three genres I’ve been reading since I was a teenager). Not on this particular list, but on lists lower, writers where I do place importance on their complete work, but whose complete work basically fits into one book (i.e. Emily Dickinson, Hertha Kräftner).

  • Ingeborg Bachmann (Malina is the single novel by anyone. living or dead, that is most important to me)
  • Herman Melville
  • Uwe Johnson
  • Paul Celan
  • Iris Murdoch
  • Sarah Kane
  • Sam Beckett
  • Thomas Bernhard
  • Alfred Döblin
  • Christa Wolf
  • Heinrich v. Kleist
  • Elfriede Jelinek
  • Jean Rhys
  • Heiner Müller
  • Gustave Flaubert
  • Gerald Murnane

Poetry

  • John Berryman
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Boris Pasternak
  • Hilde Domin
  • James Merrill
  • Cavafy
  • Delmore Schwartz
  • Hart Crane
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Peter Huchel
  • Rose Ausländer
  • Ted Hughes
  • Elizabeth Bishop
  • Philip Larkin
  • Ezra Pound
  • Christine Lavant
  • Thomas Brasch
  • John Ashbery
  • James Wright
  • Hans-Magnus Enzensberger

Fiction

  • Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
  • William Gaddis, Recognitions
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov (narrowly didn’t make the list of 15 writers, because I dislike The Idiot)
  • Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks
  • Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day (really, would be on 15 writers list above, if not for my dislike of early prose and Lot 49)
  • Don DeLillo, Libra
  • Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans
  • Proust, the whole Récherche, but particularly Le côté de Guermantes
  • Irmtraud Morgner, Trobadora Beatriz
  • Samuel R. Delany, Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand (should probably be on the 15 writers list above)
  • Hans Henny Jahnn, Fluß ohne Ufer
  • A.L. Kennedy, Everything You Need
  • Henry James, Wings of the Dove
  • Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum
  • Lawrence Norfolk, The Pope’s Rhinoceros
  • Josef Winkler, Das wilde Kärnten
  • Harold Brodkey, Stories in an Almost Classical Mode
  • Patrick White, The Vivisector
  • Robert Walser, Aus dem Bleistiftgebiet
  • Hemingway, The Sun Als0 Rises
  • Yukio Mishima, The Sea of Fertility

Non-Fiction

  • E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class
  • Wilhelm Reich, Die Massenpsychologie des Faschismus 
  • Wittgenstein, Philosophische Untersuchungen
  • Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic
  • Hannah Arendt, Vita Activa
  • Thomas Browne, The Major Works
  • Adorno/Horkheimer, Dialektik der Aufklärung
  • Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity
  • Louis Althusser et al., Lire Le Capital
  • James Clifford, Routes
  • Michael Taussig, Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man
  • Wilhelm Dilthey, Der Aufbau der Geschichtlichen Welt in den Geisteswissenschaften
  • Emmanuel Lévinas, Totalité et Infini
  • Michel Foucault, Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique
  • Judith Butler, Gender Trouble
  • Alfred Sohn-Rethel, Soziologische Theorie der Erkenntnis
  • Eric Wolf, Europe and the People without History
  • Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode
  • Siegfried Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Jenseits von Gut und Böse

Happy New Year, Everyone

15780902_10211866012072810_2728734389601758620_nHave a great 2017 everyone. I’m listening to an Otis live records right now, drinking a lovely gin. Who knows how long I will be around, any of us really. Have a drink on me, on you and the new year.

Read poetry, write poetry, read books, punch a fascist, you know, you do you next year.

Love,

Marcel

Tournament of Books 2016 Winner?

I was a bit busy and forgot to check on the Tournament of Books. Here is my earlier post on it. So Villanova won March Madness and in the much more important Tournament of Books? Paul Beatty’s masterful novel The Sellout which I’ve read but haven’t gotten round to reviewing yet. So here is the link to the Finals matchup, which The Sellout won by a fairly wide margin.
Here is the brackets of this year’s ToB again:

Fates and Furies
v. Bats of the Republic
judge: Maria Bustillos

The Sympathizer
v. Oreo
judge: Brad Listi

The Turner House
v. Ban en Banlieue
judge: Miriam Tuliao

Our Souls at Night
v. The Whites
Judge: Syreeta McFadden

A Little Life
v. The New World
judge: Choire Sicha

The Book of Aron
v. The Tsar of Love and Techno
judge: Doree Shafrir

A Spool of Blue Thread
v. The Story of My Teeth
judge: Daniel Wallace

The Sellout
v. The Invaders
judge: Liz Lopatto