In my time running this blog, I find it quite a surprise that i haven’t written a post like this at all, perhaps up until recently I had misconceptions about the amount of people who still read books or perhaps I couldn’t really picture a list that I would call definitive and perhaps I still can’t and perhaps I never will. Anyway, like many art forms, the art of writing and the subsequent reading goes hand in hand with marijuana. The Counterculture movement’s anti-war sentiment helped give birth to the hippie subculture which is long associated with marijuana amongst other drugs. Pioneers of counterculture were mainly writers in some form, from Ken Kesey to The Beats: Ginsberg and Kerouac who helped shape a generation in a haze of marijuana haze. However In this list I am going to try and avoid, where possible, listing the stereotypical and predictable works so as to distinguish this list from others and to open your mind to further reading (hopefully). For example one list I looked at along a similar vein stated that no list of this sort was complete without at least one William Burroughs novel, however because thus far I’ve not really found anything all that great about Burroughs prose. So without further ado…
R A Lafferty Fourth Mansions
Now Christian Sci-fi writers are a pretty rare thing, however upon reading Lafferty’s Fourth Mansions you will certainly wish they weren’t as rare. Lafferty presents a bizarre world run secretly by multiple secret societies all with different end games and views of how the world should be. The book shows Mexican revolutionaries and resourceful tramps as also being great powers in the world. All this is focalised though Freddy Foley, a journalist, whose bizarre yet witty prose has him referred to as stupid by many of the novel’s characters however it serves to dazzle and engross the reader.
Salvador Plascencia The People of Paper
Barely a decade old, this novel is a relative newbie on this list, however the sheer ingenuity of the innovative way the story is told should guarantee it’s place on any list. The plot details a group of Mexican emigrants attempting to cross the border, while simultaneously fighting a war against ‘Saturn’ who turns out to be a pseudonym for the author. A small synopsis cannot really do this book justice, as the way it is presented and set out helps to mirror the content and possibly surpass it in terms of its bizarreness.
Brendan Mccarthy & Peter Milligan Rogan Gosh
This is the first of two comic books I will include on this list. I find most ‘best reads’ lists to be pretentious due to them generally dismissing comic books or graphic novels. But there’s no way I couldn’t include this. A strange tale featuring an ignorant British yob and an Indian waiter going on an adventure, Rudyard Kipling in an opium den and the aforementioned characters ending up in the bizarre realm where the titular character lives. If this does tickle your fancy I’d recommend Mirkin the Mystic also by the same team. All this plus a ton of brightly colored painted pages of Brendan Mccarthy artwork to stare at when you’re stoned.
Grant Morrison Doom Patrol
A trippy and surrealist take on DC comics most bizarre characters, essentially a group of superheroes whose powers seem more like disabilities than gifts. This series is jam-packed with ideas splattered across a page in seemingly random fashion, however it made for one of the best reads I’ve ever had. From sentient transvestite streets to a disembodied brain announcing his love to his intelligent gorilla henchman, this run holds nothing back in terms of the strange.