I’m getting close the the end of my Japan/prose-poem/photo chapbook project, and so I’ve started thinking ahead a bit to my next project which will be the novel.  I’ve been thinking especially of novels that exemplify a kind of writing quality to which I aspire.  The novel I have in mind to write would be a lyrical meditation on intimacy, and on the elusive and mysterious nature of the self.  Most of the fiction that’s been particularly inspiring to me has been so for two main reasons: the use of very lyrical and beautiful language, and the evocation of the deeply mysterious nature of life, of the mind, and of one’s identity.  Here are some novels that I find to be especially inspiring, many of which I’m sure will be much in my mind as I work on my own novel project.  These books are extremely diverse in style, genre, and subject matter.  They don’t just tell good stories.  They all, in one way or another, have enlarged my world.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Another Country by James Baldwin
The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Tracks by Louise Erdrich
Far Tortuga by Peter Matthiessen
All the Living by C. E. Morgan
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Suttree by Cormac McCarthy
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The City and the City by China Mieville
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
If on a winters night a traveler by Italo Calvino
The Magus by John Fowles
Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The American Woman in the Chinese Hat by Carole Maso
The Maytrees by Annie DIllard
The Letters of Mina Harker by Dodie Bellamy