Monday, August 10, 2009

How to Dress an Orangutan

"What's your favorite?"

That's such a difficult question to answer no matter the topic. Hell, a favorite anything can depend on what mood you're in. I swear, I think last week I thought my favorite food might have been peanut butter.

I embarked on a quest of sorts. I wanted to figure out what my favorite book might be. Seeing that I spend five days a week or more in a bookstore, it occurred to me that having an answer to that question might be a good thing. Of course therein lay a problem. To work at Green Apple Books is to be near drowned in a din of miscellany. From section to section I could select a new favorite at any moment, there's just too much good to be dug up, so I sought aid.
As I wandered around the store, haplessly seeking a way to narrow down my search, I happened across Henry Miller's The Books in My Life. Over the period of a few lunch breaks I skimmed it for what seemed the most interesting. I figured if Henry Miller saw fit to write about it, it had to be good. I skipped over his thoughts on Krishnamurti titles and the Greek and Roman tragedies. Important as they may be I'm just not ready to pour over that stuff, be consumed by Aeschylus and Euripides and Eastern thought. At twenty-five I am not so prolific of a reader as I'd like to be, not with so much mischief to be made.

Moving on though, what I did find was Blaise Cendrars Moravagine (that picture at the top is an older, out of print cover that I happen to like a little better than the current edition). I cannot shut up about Moravagine presently. It is the best and weirdest piece of literature that I have picked up in years. Henry Miller was hugely inspired by it and in reading it there is no question as to why. It's at once violent and hilarious, about a doctor on a world tour with a mad prince. A raw, stinking, crawling hunk of fantasy indeed.

I suppose I didn't pick a new favorite in the long run. I merely read a great and relatively obscure book. Thanks to Henry though I've found another contender to place high in an ever growing list. Perhaps the world of literature is too large for just one favorite anyway. One can't love nothing but peanut butter forever.

1 comment:

Celine said...

AWESOME henry miller videos! thanks, you made my day. also happy to see you guys writing about foreign lit (that's the translator in me talking).