Three Books with…Missy Marston

Bad ideas book cover

We asked Missy Marston, author of Bad Ideas, to name three books she considers essential titles, the books that come to mind first when she’s asked to recommend an excellent read. (Apparently, this was not easy…)

This is a tough question. There are so many books that have changed the way I think about life and how I think about writing. I would not be anything like myself, for example, if I hadn’t read Kathy Acker and Kurt Vonnegut in my twenties. Or Atwood and Laurence in my teens. And so on. But if I have to pick right now, I would recommend:

Experience, by Martin Amis

A brilliant, tender, hilarious, wise memoir. I have read it twice and will read it again. I could read it once a year, no problem. I could probably read it once a month.

Martin Amis is one of the most gifted and innovative writers of our time. With Experience, he discloses a 
private life every bit as unique and fascinating as his bestselling novels. He explores his relationship with his beloved father, novelist Kingsley Amis, and examines the life and legacy of his cousin, Lucy Partington, who was abducted and murdered by one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers. Experience also dissects the literary scene, and includes Amis’portraits of Saul Bellow, Salman Rushdie, Allan Bloom, Philip Larkin, Robert Graves, and Ian McEwan, among others. Not since Nabokov’s Speak, Memory has such an implausible life been recorded by such an inimitable talent.

*

Pontypool Changes Everything, by Tony Burgess

Absolute balls-out madness. Again, have read it twice and will no doubt read it again. Even when I only have the vaguest idea what is going on in this novel, I am still having such a good time as a reader. Great premise— language as a zombie-creating virus—and prose as rhythmic and beautiful as any poetry I have ever read.

What if you woke up and began your morning by devoting the rest of your life to a murderous rampage, a never-ending cannibalistic spree? And what if you were only one of thousands who shared the same compulsion? This novel depicts just such an epidemic. It’s the compelling, terrifying story of a devastating virus. You catch it through conversation, and once it has you, it leads you on a strange journey—into another world where the undead chase you down the streets of the smallest towns and largest cities.

*

Glass, Irony and God, by Anne Carson

This book blew my mind. I could not put it down. The writing is laser-precise, beautiful, and furious. It made me want to read everything she has ever written.

Known as a remarkable classicist, Anne Carson weaves contemporary and ancient poetic strands with stunning style in Glass, Irony and God. This collection includes: “The Glass Essay,” a powerful poem about the end of a love affair, told in the context of Carson’s reading of the Bronte sisters; “Book of Isaiah,” a poem evoking the deeply primitive feel of ancient Judaism; and “The Fall of Rome,” about her trip to “find” Rome and her struggle to overcome feelings of a terrible alienation there.