One of my favorite quotations is from Franz Kafka:
I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.
I read a lot of classic literature, lyric poetry, and even a few bestsellers, but my real passion is for transgressive fiction. This is the prime reason I keep the Experimental Fiction group going in a small corner of this weblog. I tell everyone that I crave books with free-flowing bodily fluids and an embarrassing amount of gratuitous sex. But what do you do when the book you are reading has all the excitement and intrigue of a Hallmark Christmas Special?
Did you ever read a novel that had all the depth of a Necco wafer and all the subtlety of Cream of Wheat? Well I invite you to read Kent Haruf’s scintillating novel, Where You Once Belonged.