Friday, September 5, 2008

What five books changed your life?

I got to thinking, after reading this article, what five books really influenced me and changed the way I viewed the world.

1. Blood and Guts in High School, by Kathy Acker.
It was cut up writing, it was non-linear, it was sexually gratuitous, yet it totally and completely made sense. It felt like my mind had been decoded -- all the insanity of living as a punk rock woman in a patriarchal society was mapped out on the page for me in all of its nonsensical jibberish. It was anger, baby talk, fuck you, fuck me, death, re-birth, horror and moments of beauty.

2.Anti-Oedipus Capitalism and Schizophrenia, by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
The theoretical side to Kathy Acker's art. Basically, mapped out for me how oppressive systems (Capitalism is the the title, but also refers to other modes, like patriarchy) make this totally insane experience of life - through linearity, conformity, control - and that those moments of revolution, clarity and creativity come from breaking out of those systems, finding 'lines of flight', through almost chaotic means.

3. Written on the Body, by Jeanette Winterson
Possibly the most intense descriptions of how love devours you. Jeanette Winterson is a more accessible fiction writer than Kathy Acker, devoted to beauty and love, yet is no less revolutionary.

4. Perfume, by Patrick Suskind
Written by a totally old-school canonised male patriarchal author (don't read his other stuff!) Perfume is the story of a man born without any body scent, which means he is perhaps not really human. Yet, his sense of smell is beyond anything we can imagine, meaning he can smell the scent of sweet young virgins and in order to capture it, murders them. A pretty gross concept, yet so beautifully told, and really captures the extremities of the human condition. It reminds me of the Terry Gilliam movie Tideland for some reason. The books is so amazingly written that the movie Perfume (avoid it if you can) was basically narrated start to finish, becaus ethere is no way you can only capture this book visually.

5. So many books can fill this spot!!!!! I think though, I will go with Bone Black by bell hooks.
This is the first time I connected my struggles with being a writer and being non-white. bell hooks' memoir of growing up a black girl with a deep deep love of writing and poetry resonated very deep within me, to dark places I didn't even know I had. bell hooks is the ultimate feminist warrior writer woman and the big sister I never had!!


Libby Quam said...

I really like Dude, you're a fag by CJ Pascoe, it opened my eyes to the gender oppression faced by so many young men in this country. I felt truly inspired by this book since feminism is about equality for all genders, and often us women get so caught up in our own oppression that we forget about the oppression of the other ( black/hispanic women, men, lgbtq community).

Libby Quam said...

Also the Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison.

Madeleine said...

For me it would have to be "Cunt: A Declaration of Independence" by Inga Muscio, and "Reviving Ophelia" by Mary the two big ones that really got me fired up at a young age. Nice's good to remember the reasons why I care so much.