Okay, before you get your kitten britches in a twist, I KNOW how everyone worthy hates this game, and their immediate response is, “I can’t possibly name my ten favorite books! It would be blasphemy!” No, children, that is not so. What you can’t POSSIBLY do is grow gills or drive across the Atlantic. You may name your favorite books, and you know why? Because my friend Suzanna Banana once had this contest wherein she asked, “Quick: you’re going to be on a desert island alone and you may only take one writer, who is it?” And I shouted “Nabokov!” like a madwoman. She smugly said, “I would take Dickens,” and briefly I was inflamed with resentment but guess what? Two years have passed and I’m ALLOWED TO CHANGE MY MIND.
So I shall name what I would wish to have with me on this entirely hypothetical and non-existent undiscovered place, unless it’s that horrifying area of the Congo where the 125,000 gorgeous gorillas were discovered and would, frankly eat me. In which who cares. After I name my books you must participate, because we love one another.
1. The Collected Works, and I mean every essay, every poem, every letter, every phone number written on his hand, of Ralph Waldo Emerson, world without end.
Painting by Leslie Staub
2. Little, Big, by John Crowley. God, how I have grown tedious about this book.
3. South of the Big Four, by Don Kurtz. Simply the finest novel ever written about the Midwest.
4. The Dubliners, by James Joyce.
5. And then I am torn between Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith; The Devotions of Thomas Kelley, or the Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I shall perhaps take all of them.
6. Oh! And the entire Foxfire Collection, because I’m not stupid. And I know there are like 27 volumes, so I would just steal Christopher’s Kindle.
FILMS, TO WATCH ON MY KINDLE:
1. Groundhog Day, the most flawlessly religious film ever made.
2. Harvey. “I have been kind and I have been clever, and kind is better.”
3. Funneybones, with Jerry Lewis and Oliver Platt.
OLIVER PLATT: [speaking to a very old lawyer who is trying to help him find his father] Why is it that all the best things in life belong to the past?
OLD ATTORNEY: [smiles heartbreakingly, shakes his head] I don’t know. But they do, don’t they?
4. The Collected Sopranos, except some people might love me $250.00 worth, but no one loves me $500.00, which I’m totally down with.
MUSIC TO PLAY ON ETC.
1. Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, April 16, 1957
2. Monk’s Dream
3. Coltrane: A Love Supreme
4. Joni Mitchell: Blue
5. The Collected Leonard Cohen
2. My entire family, my Otters, Scott, one good horse.
3. At least three Roman mastiffs with breeding capability.
4. A chef.
Okay, your turn.