The “Pillars”

Cool list.

If one tried to construct the Temple of Literature from only the fifty “pillars” below, it would collapse spectacularly. Nevertheless, here is a contingent group of titles that, to paraphrase Christopher Higgs, if I hadn’t read and reread over the years, I wouldn’t be myself. How much that is worth, I’m not sure.

1) Djuna Barnes—Nightwood

2) Charles H. Kahn—The Art and Thought of Heraclitus (an edition of the fragments with commentary)

3) William Shakespeare—Sonnets, Tragedies, most of the Comedies . . .

4) Eileen Myles—Inferno, The Importance of Being Iceland.

5) Charlotte Brontë—Jane Eyre, Villette

6) Jane Austen—Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion

7) Marquis de Sade, 120 Days of Sodom, Julliette

8) Shoshana Felman, “Turning the Screw of Interpretation” (from Writing and Madness)

9) Herman Melville—Moby-Dick, Billy Budd, The Confidence Man, and the shorter works

10) Sir Thomas Browne—Urn Burial, Religio Medici, correspondence

11) Walter Pater—The Renaissance, Imaginary Portraits, “A Child in the House,” Marius the Epicurean

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The exterminating angel of….. conformity. All of those sheep…


The Surrender is Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning his lifelong desire to be a woman.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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