Reading Uniqueness: Books that Boldly Go Beyond the Known

This is what I search for, why I read. Books that most publishers won’t touch, that most editors would have nightmares over, that aren’t necessarily great books but reflect something that’s uniquely of the mind of the author. What do they have in common? Ambition? Yes, in the way that a challenge is tackled head on. A strangeness? Yes, oh yes, oh yes yes, these are strange books. Humour? That generally goes with the strangeness. A non-linear structure? Absolutely, absolutely. Tasking language? For me, this is a must: there are lot of unique books out there, but do they have the language – the diction, the rhythm, the metaphor – to match that vision. And they are all moving, affecting, human books. It’s easy to be odd but so much harder to be uncanny. So here are a bunch that have never left me, that are by and large under-read and unknown to the general reading public (which is why some of the other authors whose books have influenced me, such as Pynchon, Beckett, Faulkner, Joyce, Kafka, aren’t here). Clicking the images brings to Goodreads links.

Plus, Joseph McElroy
The Stones of Summer, Dow Mossman
The Journal of Albion Moonlight, Kenneth Patchen
The Dead Father, Donald Barthelme
The Third Policeman, Flann O’Brien
Wittgenstein’s Mistress, David Markson
JR, William Gaddis
Log the S.S. the Mrs. Unguentine, Stanley Crawford

Joseph_McElroy,_Plus,_coverstones of summerTheDeadFatheralbion-moonlight

ThirdPoliceman20121129-203833 - CopyJRnovelunguentine

I’m sure there are many others I’ve forgotten, such as (thinking):

Hawthorn and Child, Keith Ridgway
Ice, Anna Kavan
Genoa: A Telling of Wonders, Paul Metcalf
Housekeeping, Marilyn Robinson
Les Chants de Maldoror, Comte de Lautréamont
Journey to the End of Night. L. F. Celine
The Crock of Gold, James Stephens

Any recommendations?

5 thoughts on “Reading Uniqueness: Books that Boldly Go Beyond the Known

  1. Suggestions? Read more *women*, Lee.

    The fiction of Annie Dillard, Clare Morrall (Astonishing Splashes of Colour), Toni Morrison, Miriam Toews, and Carol Shields is bold, strange, poetic, magical. Get thee to a library. Go!

    Wishing you a delightful 2015,

    Diane Reid

    Reid n’ Write

    (506) 363-5994 or @dianereiddotca

    Writers in the Schools Program:


    • Well, it’s not a lack of reading women, Diane, or even liking books written by women, but a lack of finding books with similar range of impact on me. I’ve liked books with some of these qualities (by Jessica Grant, Rivka Galchen, Marilyn Bowering) recently but the ones I’m really looking for, they likely won’t be published by mainstream presses. Christine Brooke-Rose & Rikki Ducornet are on my radar. Thanks for the recommendations: I’ve read all but Clare Morrall.


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