A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Joe Claus' Reading List

The little game proposed by Methuselah's Daughter, which I played a couple of posts down, got me to thinking about books and book genres, so I'll indulge my self-esteem and list my favorite books in the genres that have meant the most to me.

Yes, I know I've said before that Buddhists don't believe in a "self", but that doesn't mean we don't esteem it, even if it isn't really there, just like everybody else. We merely recognize that esteeming a non-existent self is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

This list is not my proposed selection for the best books or stories in the world, but the items on it are significant turning points in my history as a reader, making some definite change or other in my point of view on the world. The books below are far more numinous to me than they might be to you, but they should illuminate to any of my readers part of the emotional grounds within me for the things I write here. These emotional grounds are not wholly conscious to me, so I cannot characterize them directly in my own prose, I can only point to them in an indirect way such as this.

Then, again, I am a great disbeliever in literary class consciousness--claims that certain books or genres are somehow inherently more "important" (beyond abstract literary merits) than others are greatly exaggerated. I don't think there is anything on this list to be ashamed of reading, so the reader may use it as a guide to new morsels of pleasure to be explored by flipping through the pages, if they haven't yet encountered all of the works below.

The Ten Novels:

  1. Bleak House--Charles Dickens
  2. Ada--Vladimir Nabokov
  3. The Tale of Genji--Murasaki Shibitsu
  4. Gravity's Rainbow--Thomas Pynchon
  5. Ulysses--James Joyce
  6. The Sea of Fertility Tetrology--Yukio Mishima
  7. The Count of Monte Cristo--Alexandre Dumas
  8. The Tropic of Cancer--Henry Miller
  9. The Master of Go--Yasunari Kawabata
  10. One Hundred Years of Solitude--Gabriel Garcia Marques

The Ten Plays:

  1. Measure For Measure--Shakespeare
  2. Macbeth--Shakespeare
  3. Hipollytus Veiled--Euripides
  4. Oeidipus At Colonus--Sophocles
  5. Mrs. Warren's Profession--George Bernard Shaw
  6. The Cherry Orchard--Anton Chekov
  7. Arms And The Man--George Bernard Shaw
  8. Baccae--Euripides
  9. A Midsummer Night's Dream--Shakespeare
  10. Henry IV--Shakespeare

The Five Autobiographies:

  1. Autobiographies--W.B.Yeats
  2. Memories, Dreams, Reflections--Carl Jung
  3. Walden--Henry David Thoreau
  4. The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton
  5. The Path To Rome--Hillaire Belloc

The Five Books of Literary Criticism:

  1. The Dyer's Hand--W.H. Auden
  2. Selected Essays--T.S. Eliot
  3. ABC of Reading--Ezra Pound
  4. The Poetics of Music--Igor Stravinsky
  5. Inside the Whale & Other Essays--George Orwell

The Five Books of Poetry:

  1. Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats
  2. Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens
  3. Collected Shorter Poems--W.H. Auden
  4. Collected Poems--Dylan Thomas
  5. Collected Poems--H.D.

The Ten Short Story Collections:

  1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  2. Beasts and Super Beasts--Saki
  3. The Great White Way--Damon Runyon
  4. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary--M.R. James
  5. The Father Brown Omnibus--G.K. Chesterton
  6. Collected Fictions--Jorge Luis Borges
  7. The Continental Op--Dashiell Hammett
  8. The Big Knockover--Dashiell Hammett
  9. Nightwebs--Cornell Woolrich
  10. Best Ghost Stories--J.S. LeFanu

The Five Books of Fantasy:

  1. The Lord of the Rings--J.R.R. Tolkein
  2. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass--Lewis Carrol (Get the Annotated Alice, if at all possible. The pleasure in it increases tremendously.)
  3. Mists of Avalon--Marian Zimmer Bradley
  4. That Hideous Strength--C.S. Lewis
  5. Many Dimensions--Charles Williams

The Five Farces:

  1. The Code of the Woosters--P.G. Wodehouse
  2. The Blind Barber--John Dickson Carr
  3. Uncle Fred in the Springtime--P.G. Wodehouse
  4. Animal Crackers--The Marx Brothers (Yes, I know it isn't a book. So what?)
  5. The Importance of Being Ernest--Oscar Wilde

The Five Traditional Detective Stories:

  1. Over My Dead Body--Rex Stout
  2. The Three Coffins--John Dickson Carr
  3. The Sign Of The Four--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  4. Devil Take The Blue Tail Fly--John Franklin Bardin
  5. The Golden Spiders--Rex Stout

The Five "Hard Boiled" Detective Stories:

  1. Lady In The Lake--Raymond Chandler
  2. Red Harvest--Dashiell Hammett
  3. Farewell My Lovely--Raymond Chandler
  4. The Glass Key--Dashiell Hammett
  5. The Friends of Eddie Coyle--John V. Higgins

The Five Spy Stories:

  1. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold--John LeCarre
  2. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy--John LeCarre
  3. The Third Man--Graham Greene
  4. The Human Factor--Graham Greene
  5. Journey Into Fear--Eric Ambler

The Five Science Fiction Novels or Story Collections:

  1. Dune--Frank Herbert
  2. Vintage Season--C.L. Moore & Harry Kuttner
  3. I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream--Harlan Ellison
  4. I Sing The Body Electric--Ray Bradbury
  5. Time Enough For Love--Robert Heinlein

The Five Horror Stories:

  1. Turn Of The Screw--Henry James
  2. The Specialty Of The House--Stanley Ellin
  3. The Room In The Tower--E.F.Benson
  4. A Cask of Ammontiado--Edgar Allen Poe
  5. The Shadow Over Innsmouth--H. P. Lovecraft

The Five Books of Social/Economic/Political Criticism:

  1. Illuminations--Walter Benjamin
  2. A Treatise On Money--John Maynard Keynes
  3. Mythologies--Roland Barthes
  4. The Painting of Modern Life--T.J. Clarke
  5. Beyond Good and Evil--Friedrich Nietzsche

The Five Books of Philosophy:

  1. The Problems Of Philosophy--Bertrand Russell
  2. Progressive Meditation on the Stages of Emptiness--Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso
  3. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus--Ludwig Wittgenstein
  4. The Birth of Tragedy From The Spirit of Music--Friedrich Nietzsche
  5. The Grundgrisse--Karl Marx

The Five Personal Religious Narratives:

  1. The Life Of Milarepa
  2. Orthodoxy--G.K. Chesterton
  3. The Book of Eziekiel
  4. Black Elk Speaks
  5. The Book of Job

The Five Travel Narratives:

  1. The Cruise of the Nona--Hillaire Belloc
  2. The Japanese Inn--Oliver Statler
  3. A Small Town In Provence--M.F.K. Fisher
  4. The American Scene--Henry James
  5. Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan--Lafcadio Hearn

The Five Books on the Occult:

  1. The Sea Priestess--Dion Fortune
  2. Moon Magic--Dion Fortune
  3. Magick in Theory and Practice--Aliester Crowley
  4. Rosa Alchemica/The Tables Of The Law--W.B. Yeats
  5. Pictorial Key To The Tarot--A.E. Waite

The Ten Unclassifiable Books:

  1. The Gentle Art of Making Enemies--James MacNeil Whistler
  2. Acting: The First Six Lessons--Richard Boleslavsky
  3. The Book of Tea--Okakura Kakuso
  4. Aion--Carl Jung
  5. I Ching--Richard Willhelm/Cary Baynes tr.
  6. The White Goddess--Robert Graves
  7. Tales of Power--Carlos Castenada
  8. The Way of The Shaman--Michael Harner
  9. The Reader Over Your Shoulder--Robert Graves and Alan Hodges
  10. A Prosody Handbook--Karl Shapiro

"Works of art are sometimes unjustly forgotten, but no work of art is unjustly remembered."--W. H. Auden

1 Comments:

Blogger Love Kpop said...

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8:50 PM  

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