BBC Radio four has a program called Desert Island Disks that involves inviting a celebrity or cultural vulture to talk about the music they would take with them on a desert island etc etc. It’s usually an extraordinarily droll affair with “best of” celebrities listing “best of” music. I think they once had Phillip Glass on, but that is hearsay. Anyhow, since I have something else to get on with today, here’s my list of desert island books in no particular order: Mechanism of Meaning – Gins & Arakawa I would have chosen Architectural Body, but it is not quite as practical as MoM. MoM is like a manual in consciousness. It’s a wonder to me how they could have actually produced something after this book… But they did, and it’s even better and many times larger. Cantos – Ezra Pound For me Pound’s Cantos are more than a book of poetry, they are a textbook in culture (or Kulchur). My breath still gets shallow when I read “And then went down to ship..” No one can write an “and” like Pound. Last Lunar Baedeker – Mina Loy I haven’t been able to part with this book since I bought it. ‘nuff said? Helen Keller or Arakawa – Madeline Gins O.k. two Gins books, so what? HK/A defies description, that’s why I call it poetry. A novel/non-fiction/philosophical tract etc etc. If one plans to write a book, reading Gins is essential because the immense complexity and planning etc that must go into her writing makes one blush armed only with these spontaneous word games. Eunoia – Christian Bok A Phenomenal Book! What can I say?.. The only problem is that I need a dictionary to read it. Collins Gem Dictionary See above… I love this dictionary because they use IPA symbols for the pronunciation key. I can’t get my head around those funny oo symbols in Websters.. From the other side of the Century – Douglas Messerli This is a great anthology (thank you Catherine!). My only difficulty with it has been that a lot of the authors I like in there are no longer in print! John Taggart to name one, ?? Godfrey to name another. Hence, this anthology is essential. Poems for the Millenium Vols. 1 & 2 Comments as “From the other side..” with the added benefit of having a truly international selection. Rothenberg and Joris really needed a 3 volume set though. The omissions are glaring, especially from more recent writers. I think in addition to this one needs to rip out the poetry from the Chicago Reviews German Writing… Two words: Ulrike Dresdner (in German is even better!). – I’m cheating, btw, there isn't a link between these books.

No comments: