I write this lazily and as someone who isn't even sure she likes experimental fiction. Sure my favourite novel is on this list; Pale Fire, a novel which I will probably read a dozen or so times throughout my life (WHERE DID YOU LEAVE THE CROWN JEWELS, CHARLES??!). But aside from that the only other I've read is To The Lighthouse (and parts of Infinite Jest, which I started at quite possibly the worst time in a person's life to read about suicidal people). I am reading a Calvino right now, although not the one listed (If On a Winter's Night, A Traveler) and I am really digging it. And oddly enough, some of my favourite music is pretty experimental (Johnny Greenwood, Man Man, Einstürzende Neubauten). Same goes for movies and TV and visual art; I love it when creators messes with form and challenges expectations.
So what's up with my prickliness when it comes to novels? I don't know, guys. All I demand (ha) or desire in a novel, in any art form really, is that it's enjoyable. Experimental fiction can be enjoyable (absolutely! Pale Fire!) but it just has that extra hurdle. I don't particularly want to read something just because the author tried something difficult and deserves props for that effort even if it didn't work and took away from the story (if there even is a story *cough* Finnegan's Wake *cough*). Nope, I want to read something that the author knew worked, had hir expectations in check. I'm a believer in restraint. If experimental fiction works then you get Nabokov and Calvino. If it doesn't you can end up with a bit of a mess. But I guess my aversion could also just be chalked up to jealousy/discomfort over the extravagance use of imagination. That's not how I write!
That said, there are tonnes of books on this list that I do want to read, so I guess discount this whole rant? It is 7 am. Shit.
(So, I have an assignment due in today, 2 essays due in a week and a half, an exam smack dab in the middle and part of a novel due Monday. Hence why I'm just listing a whole whack of novels without any individual write ups whatsoever. It hurts my heart to do so...)
House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski
Life and Opionions of Tristam Shandy by Laurence Sterne
The Voyeur by Alain Robbe-Grillet
The Outsider by Albert Camus
Atrocity Exhibition by JD Ballard
The Soft Machine by William Burroughs
Hannibal Lector, My Father by Kathy Acker
Imaginations by William Carlos Williams
Collected Prose by Robert Creeley
Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things by Gilbert Sorrentino
Life: A Manual by Georges Perec
Finnigan's Wake by James Joyce
The Journalist by Harry Mathews
How German is it? by Walter Abish
Revenge of the Lawn by Richard Brautigan
Anticipation by Frederick Te Castle
Rubicon Beach by Steve Erickson
This is not a Novel by David Markson
End of the Story by Lydia Davis
At Swim Two Birds by Flann O'Brian
Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
The Museum at Purgatory by Nick Bantock
The Power Book by Jeanette Winterson
Flounder by Günter Grass
Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino
People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia
The Dead Father by Donald Bartheleme
Betrayals by Charles Palliser
To Do: Alphabets and Birthdays by Gertrude Stein
Hopscotch by Julio Cortázor
Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Have a great weekend, everyone! Follow in the footsteps of these greats and try something new! Like, I don't know, boogie boarding or laughing differently. Mix it up; challenge expectations!
When Alex Snider has a lot on her plate she procrastinates by writing half-assed Friday Fictions. This originally appeared on her blog. Follow her on Twitter.