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Joanna Walsh's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Joanna Walsh recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Joanna Walsh's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Gaudy Bauble

Gaudy Bauble stages a glittering world populated by Gilbert & George-like lesbians, GoldSeXUal StatuEttes, anti-drag kings, maverick detectives, a transgender army equipped with question-mark-shaped helmets, and pets who have dyke written all over them. Everyone interferes with the plot. No one is in control of the plot. Surprises happen as a matter of course: A faux research process produces actual results. A digital experiment goes viral. Hundreds of lipstick marks requicken a dying body. And the Deadwood-to-Dynamo Audience Prize goes to whoever turns deadestwood into dynamost.... more
Recommended by Joanna Walsh, and 1 others.

Joanna WalshWhat I was immediately struck by was her joyful linguistic playfulness. It seems a radical act. (Source)

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The Third Policeman

The Third Policeman is Flann O'Brien's brilliantly dark comic novel about the nature of time, death, and existence. Told by a narrator who has committed a botched robbery and brutal murder, the novel follows him and his adventures in a two-dimensional police station where, through the theories of the scientist/philosopher de Selby, he is introduced to "Atomic Theory" and its relation to bicycles, the existence of eternity (which turns out to be just down the road), and de Selby's view that the earth is not round but "sausage-shaped." With the help of his newly found soul named "Joe,"... more
Recommended by Mark O'Connell, Joanna Walsh, and 2 others.

Mark O'Connellthere’s something culturally Irish, but not uniquely Irish, of using logic against itself — of exposing the absurdity that’s inherent in logic, if you know what I mean —that he does incredibly well. (Source)

Joanna WalshFlann O’Brien is very good at the combination of the familiar and the horrifying (Source)

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The Age of Wire and String

In The Age of Wire and String, hailed by Robert Coover as "the most audacious literary debut in decades," Ben Marcus welds together a new reality from the scrapheap of the past. Dogs, birds, horses, automobiles, and the weather are some of the recycled elements in Marcus's first collection—part fiction, part handbook—as familiar objects take on markedly unfamiliar meanings. Gradually, this makeshift world, in its defiance of the laws of physics and language, finds a foundation in its own implausibility, as Marcus produces new feelings and sensations—both comic and disturbing—in the... more
Recommended by Joanna Walsh, and 1 others.

Joanna WalshAge of Wire and String creates systems of knowledge that push themselves towards absurdity. And because Marcus has often used structure without content that we can easily identify – although it has emotional resonances (he uses a lot of family vocabulary) – he’s creating a gap to enable a leap of imagination between the text and the reader… not an invitation to make some kind of direct sense of... (Source)

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The Debutante and Other Stories

Recommended by Joanna Walsh, and 1 others.

Joanna WalshCarrington liked to think through totems: in her later life in Mexico she became interested in Mayan mythic figures, but she began with her nursery rocking horse, which appears in a number of her early paintings and self-portraits. She identifies with the figure of the horse throughout her stories. (Source)

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Today I Wrote Nothing

The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms

Featuring the acclaimed novella The Old Woman and darkly humorous short prose sequence Events (Sluchai), Today I Wrote Nothing also includes dozens of short prose pieces, plays, and poems long admired in Russia, but never before available in English. A major contribution for American readers and students of Russian literature and an exciting discovery for fans of contemporary writers as eclectic as George Saunders, John Ashbery, and Martin McDonagh, Today I Wrote Nothing is an invaluable collection for readers of innovative writing everywhere.

Daniil Kharms...
Recommended by Joanna Walsh, and 1 others.

Joanna WalshI like that he invented his own name. He was born Daniil Ivánovich Yuvatchov. It marks a step into artificiality. He was a necessarily political author – he died in prison after falling foul of the Soviet regime in 1942, as many people did. But his absurdism seems to be more socially or linguistically oriented (Source)

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