5 Books (& Other Things) I Loved Recently That You Should Love, Too

by a contributor

from Justin Lawrence Daugherty, author of Here, the Invisible Man…: Notes on a Letter Written in Invisible Ink:

  1. Shampoo Horns by Aaron Teel (Rose Metal Press). This book started out as a memoir and morphed into a flash collection centered around a central event. This book will knock you on your ass. I promise. It won Rose Metal Press’ Chapbook Contest last year, and for good reason.
  2. Amber Sparks’ May We Shed These Human Bodies. Amber Sparks is writing some of the coolest stuff out there right now. Many of her stories make new fairytales and myths and create them in mysterious, beautiful ways. Check out “The Monstrous Sadness of Mythical Creatures,” about an aging Paul Bunyan, or especially, man, “The Effect of All This Light Upon You” for exactly what I’m talking about. My own writing deals heavily in myth and the nature of story, so Amber’s work really appeals to me and should appeal to everyone. Also, Amber’s really cool, so there’s that.
  3. Horse racing. Not simply the sport of horse racing, necessarily, but just horse racing stuff in general. Check out the (tragically-cut-short) HBO series, Luck, with Dustin Hoffman. Just one season, but there is some killer stuff in there. I really wanted to see it succeed. From the creator of Deadwood. There’s also Blood Horses by John Jeremiah Sullivan, who’s absolutely killing it on the nonfiction scene right now and, a new all-time favorite, The Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon. I plotted out a horse racing novel briefly. It’s still outlined on my computer. Someday.
  4. Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. I can’t have a 5 Things without dropping this one. This is my all-time favorite novel and probably influenced me the most and continues to influence what I (try to) do with my work. There is a beauty in the violence of this thing that will wreck you.
  5. The Master, a film, by Paul Thomas Anderson. If you aren’t familiar with Paul Thomas Anderson, you should be. Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood. His other stuff. All great. He was a protege, of sorts, of Robert Altman and you can see the influence. The Master is by far one of the best films I’ve seen in recent memory, right up there with City of God. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix are brilliant in this.