100 books like The Alphabet Man

By Richard Grossman,

Here are 100 books that The Alphabet Man fans have personally recommended if you like The Alphabet Man. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Naked Lunch: The Restored Text

David David Katzman Author Of A Greater Monster

From my list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer, artist, and actor throughout my life, I’ve explored and enjoyed many artistic forms. While I appreciate books across many genres, I elevate to the highest level those works that manage to break conventional boundaries and create something original. In my own work, I have always challenged myself to create something unique with a medium that has never been done before. At the same time, I have sought to discover a process and resulting work that inspires readers’ own creativity and challenges them to expand their imagination. 

David's book list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be

David David Katzman Why did David love this book?

First published in 1959, Naked Lunch was shocking then, and it still retains its power today. Both in content and structure, Naked Lunch is powerful and wholly original.  In effect, it becomes more than a work of fiction, it becomes an experience. Burroughs invented a technique called the “cut-up method,” where he cut up his coherent storyline into paragraphs, scenes, and even sentences, then reordered them both randomly and editorially. The disorder thematically represents the chaos of existence and the universe, and it also disrupts the reader. Like the book or not, it shakes you into realizing that there are possibilities beyond the conventional.

Burrough’s language is honed to a razor’s edge, and I find that many of the sentences in Naked Lunch burn like fire. The meaning of the title as Burroughs explains it is to bare the naked truth of reality on the end of a fork. From…

By William S. Burroughs Jr., James Grauerholz, Barry Miles

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Naked Lunch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since its original publication in Paris in 1959, Naked Lunch has become one of the most important novels of the twentieth century.

Exerting its influence on the relationship of art and obscenity, it is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture. For the Burroughs enthusiast and the neophyte, this volume—that contains final-draft typescripts, numerous unpublished contemporaneous writings by Burroughs, his own later introductions to the book, and his essay on psychoactive drugs—is a valuable and fresh experience of a novel that has lost none of its relevance or satirical bite.


Book cover of At Swim-Two-Birds

Daniel Ben-Horin Author Of Substantial Justice

From my list on funny international classics you (may) have not heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

Humor is based on surprise and the ‘foreign’ is often surprising. As I traveled all over the world for work, I searched out local authors and found myself laughing. It started with At Swim Two Birds and has never stopped.

Daniel's book list on funny international classics you (may) have not heard of

Daniel Ben-Horin Why did Daniel love this book?

In the summer of 1968, I was 20 and spent the summer pretty much banally in Israel and Europe. Around me, the world was on fire, but I was inside my own head.

Eventually, I washed up in Dublin, where I walked in a cold rain to Dorset Street, there to recreate Leopold Bloom’s pork kidney purchase from Dlugacz, the butcher. There was no Dlugacz on Dorset, but there was another butcher who stuffed into stiff pink butcher paper something that glistened and oozed. My plan was to fry it up, as Leopold had, on the hotplate in my rented room. It did not go well. I was felled intestinally in dramatic fashion; pity there was no one to observe. 

Somehow, in my travels, I had obtained a copy of At Swim Two-Birds, and now, my insides recreating The Troubles, I wanly reached for it and read the first paragraph:…

By Flann O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked At Swim-Two-Birds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A wildly comic send-up of Irish literature and culture, At Swim-Two-Birds is the story of a young, lazy, and frequently drunk Irish college student who lives with his curmudgeonly uncle in Dublin. When not in bed (where he seems to spend most of his time) or reading he is composing a mischief-filled novel about Dermot Trellis, a second-rate author whose characters ultimately rebel against him and seek vengeance. From drugging him as he sleeps to dropping the ceiling on his head, these figures of Irish myth make Trellis pay dearly for his bad writing. Hilariously funny and inventive, At Swim-Two-Birds…


Book cover of I Hate the Internet

David David Katzman Author Of A Greater Monster

From my list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer, artist, and actor throughout my life, I’ve explored and enjoyed many artistic forms. While I appreciate books across many genres, I elevate to the highest level those works that manage to break conventional boundaries and create something original. In my own work, I have always challenged myself to create something unique with a medium that has never been done before. At the same time, I have sought to discover a process and resulting work that inspires readers’ own creativity and challenges them to expand their imagination. 

David's book list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be

David David Katzman Why did David love this book?

I Hate the Internet is an uncompromising punch in the face that blends comedy with a didactic, experimental style. It names names and kicks ass. It’s vibrant and energizing. The majority of traditional literary fiction at its core finds its value in teaching empathy through believable characters. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, we still stand today with a world collapsing around us environmentally and politically. We need more books that just say fuck it, conservative forms have not saved us from global warming, political fascism, or dehumanizing capitalism so let’s try something different. At least here’s a unique attempt to rage against the machine. I call it a must-read.

By Jarett Kobek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Hate the Internet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In New York in the middle of the twentieth century, comic book companies figured out how to make millions from comics without paying their creators anything. In San Francisco at the start of the twenty-first century, tech companies figured out how to make millions from online abuse without paying its creators anything.

In the 1990s, Adeline drew a successful comic book series that ended up making her kind-of famous. In 2013, Adeline aired some unfashionable opinions that made their way onto the Internet. The reaction of the Internet, being a tool for making millions in advertising revenue from online abuse,…


Book cover of Locos: A Comedy of Gestures

David David Katzman Author Of A Greater Monster

From my list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer, artist, and actor throughout my life, I’ve explored and enjoyed many artistic forms. While I appreciate books across many genres, I elevate to the highest level those works that manage to break conventional boundaries and create something original. In my own work, I have always challenged myself to create something unique with a medium that has never been done before. At the same time, I have sought to discover a process and resulting work that inspires readers’ own creativity and challenges them to expand their imagination. 

David's book list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be

David David Katzman Why did David love this book?

Locos is charming and cruel, tragic and hilarious, ambiguous yet direct, and written with clear, poetic prose. The experimental style on display never overwhelms the narrative. Despite the fact that Alfau directly declares the fictive nature of his characters, he made me care about them. The book contains a series of interconnected short stories with characters reappearing throughout and even when they are not featured, a brief mention may act as a dramatic revelation that changes significantly what you read before. And further, some of the characters seem to metamorphosize and serve different roles in subsequent stories.

The entirety manages to hold together as more of a novel than a collection partly thanks to the overlapping characters, partly through the consistent tone and style, and partly because Alfau is always in the background or making appearances as "the author." Some of the stories are quite hilarious, while some are devastating.…

By Felipe Alfau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Locos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The interconnected stones that form Felipe Alfau's novel LOCOS take place in a Madrid as exotic as the Baghdad of the 1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS and feature unforgettable characters in revolt against their young 'author' "For them", he complains, "reality is what fiction is to real people; they simply love it and make for it against ray almost heroic opposition" Alfau's "comedy of gestures" -- a mercurial dreamscape of the eccentric, sometimes criminal, habitues of Toledo's Cafe of the Crazy -- was written in English and first published in 1936, favorably reviewed for The Nation by Mary McCarthy, as she recounts…


Book cover of XX

Jon Crabb Author Of Graven Images: The Art of the Woodcut

From my list on for any uber-hip, hard to impress bookworms.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with cultural curiosities, extraordinary eccentrics, secret societies, decadent dandies, rebels, devils, and anything weird and wonderful. I parlayed a love of Word and Image into a career in the arts and worked for places including Tate, Thames & Hudson and the British Library. But to be honest with you, that was just a ruse so I could spend more time delving through interesting books and prints. Some people see the world a little differently; I think we all benefit by spending a bit of time in the company of their art. "It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through."

Jon's book list on for any uber-hip, hard to impress bookworms

Jon Crabb Why did Jon love this book?

A hugely ambitious mix of text and graphic design, in which typography is used in bold and disarming ways. It is also a genuinely compelling sci-fi novel about very, very, big ideas. Filled with meta-narratives, in-jokes, artistic references, and mixed media, it’s an interesting alternative to that other oft-cited cult classic House of Leaves. As someone who has worked as both designer and editor, I was blown away by Hughes’s ability to combine a good story with such avant-garde design. The themes communicated will give you much to contemplate – or ramble on about to any friends you successfully corner. A staggering achievement destined to be a future cult classic.

By Rian Hughes,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked XX as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A boundary pushing, extremely inventive sci-? epic of ?rst contact by world-renowned graphic designer and comics creator Rian Hughes

When a signal of extraterrestrial origin is intercepted by one of Earth s most powerful radio satellites, people worldwide, including a small team of tech outsiders at a software engineering ?rm specializing in arti?cial intelligence, race to interpret the message carried by what could be the ?rst communication from an intergalactic civilization. Has humanity made ?rst contact? Is the signal itself an alien life-form? A threat? If so, how will the people of Earth respond?

Supplemented by redacted NASA reports, magazine…


Book cover of The Moustache

Jeffrey Baumgartner Author Of The Insane Journey

From my list on delightfully absurd works of fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've benefited from (or perhaps been cursed by) a diverse life. I've lived and worked in six countries on three continents. I've been an English teacher, copywriter, magazine columnist, internet entrepreneur (in Bangkok, of all places), author, and creativity consultant. But before that, I was a child with an overactive imagination. I delighted in science fiction, surrealism, and humor. Outlandish ideas inspire me. And I love absurdity when done well. It is easy to come up with nonsense. Creating meaningful nonsense is far more difficult. But when it works, it is brilliant!

Jeffrey's book list on delightfully absurd works of fiction

Jeffrey Baumgartner Why did Jeffrey love this book?

I love the sheer simplicity of this novel's theme and the chaos a simple act can wreck. The novel begins with the main character deciding to shave off the mustache he has had for more than a decade while his wife is out. When she returns, she says nothing about the missing mustache. When he brings it up, she denies he has ever had a mustache. Likewise, friends and colleagues say the main character never had a moustache. 

Things get worse from there. The novel raises questions about identity, trust, and memory.

By Emmanuel Carrere, Lanie Goodman (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Moustache as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE ADVERSARY

One morning, a man shaves off his long-worn moustache, hoping to amuse his wife and friends. But when nobody notices, or pretends not to have noticed, what started out as a simple trick turns to terror. As doubt and denial bristle, and every aspect of his life threatens to topple into madness - a disturbing solution comes into view, taking us on a dramatic flight across the world.

Translated by Lanie Goodman

Elegant, pocket-sized paperbacks, VINTAGE Editions celebrate the audacity and ambition of the written word, transporting readers to wherever in the world…


Book cover of Cinema by Other Means

Nicky Hamlyn Author Of Film Art Phenomena

From my list on artists’ film and video.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an artist-filmmaker, writer, and Professor of Experimental Film at the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury, Kent, UK. I have worked at the London Filmmakers’ Co-op and BBC TV. I have been making films since 1974 and teaching since 1988. I have published extensively on Artists’ Film / Experimental Cinema. I have edited and contributed chapters to numerous other books and journals, including Millennium Film Journal, MIRAJ, Film Quarterly, Sequence, and others. I have completed over 70 single screen works in 16mm and video, gallery film and video installations, and multi-projector film performances. These have been screened worldwide.

Nicky's book list on artists’ film and video

Nicky Hamlyn Why did Nicky love this book?

While written from a Yugoslav perspective, this book is a fascinating study of films made using unconventional methods, materials, and equipment, including ‘written films’: films that exist as texts and that would be impossible to make as films. Levi draws on the historical and the post-war avant-garde; Dada, Surrealism, Lettrisme, Structural-Materialist film, and other movements that constitute a material and ideological rejection of conventional cinema and the way it treats the medium as a mere means to an end. In these works, produced in Japan, Europe, and the USA, the technology is turned on itself, interrogated, and repurposed to anti-illusionistic ends.

By Pavle Levi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cinema by Other Means as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cinema by Other Means explores an extraordinary history, stretching from the 1910s to the present: it is a study of various avant-garde endeavors to practice the cinema by using the tools, the materials, the technology, and the techniques, which either modify or are entirely different from those associated with the standard film apparatus. Using examples from both the historical and the post-war avant-garde-Dada, Surrealism, Letterism,
"structural-materialist" film, and more-the book tells the tale of the multiple conditions of cinema; of a range of peculiar and imaginative ways in which filmmakers, artists, and writers have pondered and created, performed and transformed,…


Book cover of Video Revolutions: On the History of a Medium

Mareike Jenner Author Of Netflix and the Re-invention of Television

From my list on contemporary television.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like understanding television as culturally situated. Television is constructed along a number of sites: cultural, institutional, ideological, historical, or via the different ways audiences understand it. Interrogating television and what it does as a medium was historically relevant because it was a mass medium. But how can we evaluate the medium in times of highly fragmented audiences? Because of this, exploring Netflix as a new form of ‘television’ has become so important to me. The authors all try to get to terms with how television has changed over its short existence. This helps us understand the medium better, as well as our current moment.

Mareike's book list on contemporary television

Mareike Jenner Why did Mareike love this book?

This is a short book in which Newman explores the changes in what the term ‘video’ means.

The term is closely intertwined with the history of television, describing first television broadcasts and then how taping was used to bridge the time differences between the American east and west coasts. The term then described the ways home video revolutionized how video was used in the private sphere. Today, we receive videos as the digital snippets we see on YouTube or the short clips we post on social media. 

I like Newman’s work in general. But this book tells us so much about TV history in the US; I find it an incredibly fascinating work.

By Michael Z. Newman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Video Revolutions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since the days of early television, video has been an indispensable part of culture, society, and moving-image media industries. Over the decades, it has been an avant-garde artistic medium, a high-tech consumer gadget, a format for watching movies at home, a force for democracy, and the ultimate, ubiquitous means of documenting reality. In the twenty-first century, video is the name we give all kinds of moving images. We know it as an adaptable medium that bridges analog and digital, amateur and professional, broadcasting and recording, television and cinema, art and commercial culture, and old media and new digital networks. In…


Book cover of Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age

Nicky Hamlyn Author Of Film Art Phenomena

From my list on artists’ film and video.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an artist-filmmaker, writer, and Professor of Experimental Film at the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury, Kent, UK. I have worked at the London Filmmakers’ Co-op and BBC TV. I have been making films since 1974 and teaching since 1988. I have published extensively on Artists’ Film / Experimental Cinema. I have edited and contributed chapters to numerous other books and journals, including Millennium Film Journal, MIRAJ, Film Quarterly, Sequence, and others. I have completed over 70 single screen works in 16mm and video, gallery film and video installations, and multi-projector film performances. These have been screened worldwide.

Nicky's book list on artists’ film and video

Nicky Hamlyn Why did Nicky love this book?

LeGrice was a founder of the London Filmmakers’ Co-op in 1968 and has worked ever since as a film and video maker, teacher, and writer. His book collects a large number of theoretical and critical essays on a range of topics, from film as material to the way films variously position the spectator as a consumer and/or self-conscious critic, to comparisons between film and digital media, in aesthetic, technological, and ecological terms. The essays are always approachable, even when he is discussing more abstract theoretical problems. Many examples are discussed.

By Malcolm Le Grice,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Le Grice, a pioneer of "structural film" in the 1970s and whose first video and computer works were exhibited in the late 1960s, provides a collection of his most notable essays. The essays shed light on the work of other artists and film-makers and documents a period, especially the 70s, when artists' film was at the centre of polemical debate about the nature of avant-garde and the future of radical or experimental film. The book contributes to the contemporary debates about film, video, art and new technology.


Book cover of NDA: An Autofiction Anthology

Carol LaHines Author Of Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss

From my list on themed anthologies.

Why am I passionate about this?

The anthology form unites diverse voices around a common theme—in the case of Distant Flickers, identity and loss. The stories in the anthology explore intense personal relationships—of mother and child, old lovers, etc. Some of the stories are in the moment and some recounted with the perspective of time, some are fable-like, some formal, and others more colloquial. Reading them the reader is struck by the variety of approaches a writer might take to a subject. The device of the contributor’s notes enables the reader to see the story behind the story and how life informs art—life furnishing the raw material or day residue of the story.  

Carol's book list on themed anthologies

Carol LaHines Why did Carol love this book?

As a writer, I am always pondering the question of how our lives inform our work. As one of my fellow writers, Melissa Ostrom, put it, our experience is the rich compost from which we form our fictional narratives. To use a Freudian dream analogy, I like to think that our lives are the “day residue” of the work—elements from daily life show up in different contexts or transformed in some other way. The twentieth-first century has witnessed an explosion of so-called auto-fiction, fiction that more consciously underscores this process of transforming life into art—think of the work of Ben Lerner, Rachel Cusk, and Karl Ove Knausgard. This recently-released anthology, edited by Caitlin Forst, features work by established writers as well as new voices that interrogates the relationship between writer and text, between art and life.

By Caitlin Forst,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked NDA as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An exciting new anthology of autofiction featuring a wide range of today's best writers, both established and up-and-coming.

Collected autofictions from mainstays of literary, art, and internet avant-garde writing. The contributors in this anthology produce a contemporary, subversive primer of works engaging the relationship between the writer and the text.

Featuring:
Aiden Arata
Nathan Dragon
David Fishkind
Rindon Johnson
Aristilde Kirby
Tao Lin
Chris Molnar
Vi Khi Nao
Elle Nash
Gina Nutt
Brad Phillips
Sam Pink
Darina Sikmashvili
BR Yeager


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