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Good Books

Recommended without reservations:

~ 105 Greatest Living Writers Present the Worlds Best edited by Whit Burnett
~ 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
~ 2061: Odyssey Three by Arthur C. Clarke
~ 666 by Jay Anson
~ 99 Novels: The Best in English since 1939, A Personal Choice by Anthony Burgess


A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion
A Child's Garden of Verses for the Revolution by William Eastlake
~ A Couple of Comedians by Don Carpenter
A Drink Called Paradise by Terese Svoboda
~ A Fabulous Opera by Tropic of Ideas
~ A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans
~ Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande
~ Adrift on the Nile by Naguib Mahfouz
All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish
Andrew Stancek
Angels by Denis Johnson
~ Arjun & the Good Snake... by Rick Harsch
Arthur Rimbaud by Enid Starkie
~ Asylum Piece and Other Stories by Anna Kavan
~ Ava by Carole Maso


~ Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parent's Guide by Karen Stray-Gundersen
~ Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins
~ Black Light: A Novel by Galway Kinnell
~ Blue Genes: A Memoir of Loss and Survival by Christopher Lukas


~ Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
Columbine by Dave Cullen 
Confession by Leo Tolstoy
~ Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace


~ Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny
~ Days Between Stations by Steve Erickson
~ Deliverance by James Dickey
Destination: Void by Frank Herbert
Digging Deeper: A Memoir of the Seventies by Peter Weissman
Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
~ Drawers and Booths by Ara 13
Drinks Before Dinner: A Play by E.L. Doctorow


~ Escapement (short story) by J. G. Ballard
~ Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins
~ Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D.T. Max


Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James D. Houston
~ Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
~ Fierce: Stories and a Novella by Hannah Holborn
Fires: Essays, Poems, Stories by Raymond Carver
~ First Love and Other Sorrows by Harold Brodkey 
~ Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die by Michael Largo
~ Future Sex by Emily Witt


~ Genoa: A Telling of Wonders by Paul Metcalf
~ Ghost Rider: Travels Along the Healing Road by Neil Peart
~ Green Integer Press


~ Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga by Stephen Davis
~ Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter
~ Heavy Daughter Blues: Poems & Stories 1968-1986 by Wanda Coleman
~ Hell House by Richard Matheson


~ Ice by Anna Kavan
~ I Left My Grandfather's House by Denton Welch
~ Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
~ Imperial
by William T. Vollmann
~ Imperial Bedrooms
by Bret Easton Ellis
~ Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright
~ It Happened in Boston? by Russell H. Greenan


~ Jack by A. M. Homes
~ Jesus' Son: Stories by Denis Johnson
Joseph McElroy
~ JR by William Gaddis
Jhamak Kumari Ghimire

~ Kamikaze L'amour by Richard Kadrey


~ Last Vanities by Fleur Jaeggy
~ Leaving Las Vegas by John O'Brien
~ Less Than Zero
by Bret Easton Ellis
~ Life at Happy Knoll by John P. Marquand
~ Lightning on the Sun
by Robert Bingham
~ Lilith by J. R. Salamanca
~ Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs by Ted Morgan
Lourdes by Émile Zola 
~ Love Junkie: A Memoir by Rachel Resnick
~ Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs
edited by Suzanne Kamata
~ Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis


Mailer: His Life and Times by Peter Manso 
~ Malcolm Lowry's Volcano: Myth, Symbol, Meaning by David Markson
~ Masks of the Illuminati by Robert Anton Wilson 
~ Metrophage by Richard Kadrey
~ Monster: Living Off The Big Screen by John Gregory Dunne
~ My Country and My People by Lin Yutang

Nakamura Reality by Alex Austin
~ Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
~ Night by Elie Wiesel


~ Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Charles R. Farabee
~ Offending the Audience by Peter Handke
On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry by William H. Gass
~ One of the Children is Crying by Coleman Dowell 
~ Orange County Noir edited by Greg Phillips
~ Over The Edge: Death in Grand Canyon by Thomas M. Myers


~ Penguins Make Great Pets
~ Place Last Seen by Charlotte McGuinn Freeman
~ Planes: And How They Work by Clint Twist
~ Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
Porius by John Cowper Powys
~ Portraits From Life by Ford Madox Ford
~ Prima Belladonna (short story) by J. G. Ballard


~ Radio Waves: Life and Revolution on the FM Dial by Jim Ladd
Raja Rao: Summary Intro to His Writings
~ Relentless: The Memoir by Yngwie J. Malmsteen
~ Roaming Kyrgzstan: Beyond the Tourist Track by Jessica Jacobson
~ Routines by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
~ Rubicon Beach by Steve Erickson


~ Sadika's Way by Hina Haq
~ Safety of Objects by A.M. Homes
~ 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
~ Ship Rock: A Place by Joseph McElroy
~ Shock Treatment by Karen Finley
Smiles on Washington Square: A Love Story of Sorts by Raymond Federman 
Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren
~ Snapping the String by Robert Paul Blumenstein
~ So Far Gone: A Novel by Paul Cody
~ Southern Sierras of California
by Charles Francis Saunders
~ Southern Sierras of California: A Second Look by Charles Francis Saunders
~ Stephen Wright
Steve Erickson
~ Steps by Jerzy Kosinski
~ Swan And Shadow 
(a concrete poem) by John Hollander
~ Swan Song by Robert McCammon


~ Telling Stories by Joan Didion
~ The Accident by David Plante
~ The Adept by Michael McClure
~ The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus
The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford
~ The Apes of God by Wyndham Lewis
~ The Body by William Sansom
~ The Body Artist by Don Delillo
The Book of Fantasy edited by Jorge Luis Borges, Silvina Ocampo, Adolfo Bioy Casares
~ The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
~ The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
~ The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest by Anatoli Boukreev and G. Weston DeWalt
The Concentration City (short story) by J.G. Ballard
~ The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston
~ The Descent by Jeff Long
~ The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean Dominique-Bauby
~ The Dragon in the Sea by Frank Herbert
~ The Dune Encyclopedia edited by Dr. Willis E. McNelly, ideas by Frank Herbert
~ The End of My Life by Vance Bourjaily
The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle
~ The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
~ The Hucksters by Frederic Wakeman
~ The Island of the Dead by Lya Luft
The It-Doesn't-Matter Suit by Sylvia Plath
The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort
~ The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Böll
~ The Magic Christian by Terry Southern
The Magus by John Fowles
The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen
The Mistress's Daughter: A Memoir by A.M. Homes 
The Night Letter by Paul Spike
The Opera of Trees by Joseph Brinson
The Orangery by Gilbert Sorrentino
~ The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
~ The Red Album of Asbury Park Remixed by Alex Austin
~ The Rifles by William T. Vollmann
~ The Road by Cormac McCarthy
~ The Royal Family by William T. Vollmann
~ The Same River Twice by Ted Mooney
~ The Sea Came In At Midnight by Steve Erickson
The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall
~ The Suspect by L. R. Wright
~ The Things That Always Were by Solla Carrock
~ The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
The Usual Mistakes by Erin Flanagan
The Voice in the Closet by Raymond Federman
~ The Wicked Little Book of Quotes edited by Helen Exley
~ The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
~ Things You Should Know: A Collection of Stories by A. M. Homes
Tours of the Black Clock by Steve Erickson
~ Train Dreams by Denis Johnson


~ Ulysses by James Joyce (Some Second Thoughts)
~ Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
~ Up Above the World by Paul Bowles


~ Vanishing by Kirby Wilkins


~ Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle
~ Water and Power by William L. Karl
~ William Gaddis
~ Wittgenstein's Mistress by David Markson
Wonderland Avenue: Tales of Glamour and Excess by Danny Sugerman


Yiddish with George and Laura by Ellis Weiner 

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A Brief introduction to the Novels of Khwaja Ahmad Abbas

The majority of the material for this post is taken from Contemporary Novelists, 3rd Ed., Edited by James Vinson, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1982

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas (1914-1987)

There's only eight books of K.A. Abbas cataloged in LibraryThing (five or six different works).  He's virtually forgotten in the United States, though still revered in Indian literary circles.

On highbrow literary critics in India, Abbas said they "have sometimes sneeringly labelled my novels and short stories as 'mere journalese'. The fact that most of them are inspired by aspects of the contemporary historical reality, as sometimes chronicled in the press, is sufficient to put them beyond the pale of literary creation.

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"Mountain now loosens rivulets of tears.
Washed stones, forgotten clearing."
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When my father was a boy, he learned that he’d been adopted by the man whom he’d thought was his father. Digging through a dusty trunk in his attic, he found legal documents that gave him the name he wore and the father he knew, but also uncovering an origin that had been hidden from him.

His mother was, by all accounts, a volatile woman — her siblings called her “the hornet” because her sting was quick and painful. She was a hard woman, and reticent to either acknowledge or divulge anything about his biological father. Over the years, he eventually learned from other relatives that she met Mr. Black — it was his name, but also a metaphor for much more — in a late 1920’s dance hall. He left her pregnant, taking whatever money he could get his hands hand on when he went.

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Guest Post: Play It As It Lays reviewed by Joseph Brinson

You know, I began a try at this review writing about Iago in Othello and the nature of evil.

And about ennui and apathy.

And that the answer is: nothing.

And how I felt deep empathy for Maria.

And then I deleted it all.

This is my review: This novel depressed the fuck out of me.

That, and giving it four stars, should sum it up.

Joseph Brinson (a.k.a., "Quixada"), a poet and a longtime online pal, made me fucking howl when I first read his deadpanned piece on Play It As It Lays years and years ago.  Yes, it is brief — yet is playfully, skillfully thorough. His homage still slays me today.