Books


1980-1983 (Ages 15-18)

No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Daniel Sugerman

A rollicking trip through the ’60s from the viewpoint of the eternally adolescent Jim Morrison.

1983-1987 (Ages 18-22)

North Dallas Forty by Peter Gent

Far better than the Nick Nolte, Mac Davis movie.  The biggest difference?  The movie takes place during the ’70s, the book is set during the ’60s, and includes a lot of racial issues and Vietnam as well as psychedelics.  The ending is hard to take, but I think it’s true to the time and place it’s set in.

1987-1990 (Ages 22-25)

On the Road, Desolation Angels, Big Sur by Jack Kerouac

On the Road is the classic first installment, with Desolation Angels a more mature exploration of similar themes, and Big Sur the necessarily depressing coda to a quest unfulfilled. I think Pete Townshend once said that being an alcoholic is like being on a spiritual quest except that you’re looking in the wrong place.

1991-1993 (Ages 26-28)

The Jamais Vu Papers by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin

There was very little like this around in 1991.  A non-linear romp.  The first place I ever saw someone connect the feeling of deja vu with having dreamed that situation before.

1993-1996 (Ages 28-31)

In the Absence of the Sacred by Jerry Mander

I was living in Westchester and bought this at the Barnes and Noble on Central Avenue.  Jerry Mander was born in 1936 and, as a boy, lived in southern Westchester near the Cross County Shopping Center when it was still farmland.

1996-2000 (Ages 32-35)

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

A great book.  Lots in there.  Like Orwell, I prefer his non-fiction.

2001-2005 (Ages 36-40)

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

I keep waiting for him to write something contemporary again.

2005-2008 (Ages 40-43)

True Hallucinations by Terrence McKenna

A masterpiece.  “…No notes exist from this period.”

Terence’s true gift is oral.  There is far more to listen to than there is to read.

Also sprinkled in a healthy dose of Ian Fleming, John D. McDonald, Carl Hiaasen, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Louise Erdrich, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, E.B. White.

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Non-Fiction

Native American Testimony, Peter Nabokov, ed.

From the Heart, Lee Miller, ed.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse; Indian Country by Peter Matthiessen

Fiction

Tracks; Four Souls; The Beet Queen; Love Medicine; The Bingo Palace; Tales of Burning Love; Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich

Ceremony; Storyteller; Almanac of the Dead; Gardens in the Dunes by Leslie Marmon Silko

House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

Dawn Land; Long River by Joseph Bruchac

Ghost Singer by Anna Lee Walters

Mean Spirit; Solar Storms by Linda Hogan

The Powwow Highway; Sweet Medicine by David Seals

Collections

Spiderwoman’s Granddaughters, Paula Gunn Allen, ed.

Talking Leaves, Craig Lesley, ed.

Neon Powwow, Anna Lee Walters, ed.

Blue Dawn, Red Earth; Earth Song, Sky Spirit, Clifford Trafzer, ed.

Repetition.

I nearly fell off the couch laughing the fourth time “Rock Me Amadeus” started playing.

Also, watch for Jesse Eisenberg’s favorite Neil Young Tour shirt…I know I had favorite t-shirts that I wore over and over – still do.

He also has a tendency to tell that story about Charles Dickens on a regular basis.

This is reality.  I love this movie for the same reason I love Groundhog Day.

The reason I think this is so important is because I believe that this is what David Foster Wallace is addressing in Infinite Jest in his consideration of rules and limits.  To me, in these movies, the repetition indicates the limits of the world we live in.

In a thesis on Infinite Jest, Brooks Daverman says

The rules of tennis, including the boundary lines of the court, are limits on the possibilities of the game. However, just like the square with an infinite amount of points inside it, the limits of tennis allow for an unlimited amount of possibilities within the boundaries

In a dream once, a spirit of some kind told me that going back to the waking world meant you “had to follow the rules.”  Not the rules of a particular society or culture, but the rules of existence here in this beautiful world.

I spent some time this summer re-reading David Foster Wallace’s essay collections A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster, then got sucked into the Infinite Summer group that’s been reading and blogging about Infinite Jest this summer.

I didn’t finish the book this time through (I’ve read it twice before) but did have some great on-line discussions with other folks about some of the ideas Wallace was writing about.

What occurred to me this summer about Infinite Jest was that Wallace had intentionally placed in the book a lot of ideas about mathematical objects that are defined by things that are not part of the object itself.

The simplest example of this is the circle.  It is defined by its center, which is not on the circle itself.

Part of our lot in life might be seen as like that of a one-dimensional creature that exists on the edge of a circle going around and around searching for the part of the circle that defines it.

It’s not there.

And if you keep looking for it, you may drive yourself crazy.