1. The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James (1898)
Weird children worry the governess.
2. Death in Venice, by Thomas Mann (1913)
Body is beautiful. Body is contagious. Body rides vaporetto. Body decays.
3. Pale Horse, Pale Rider, by Katherine Anne Porter (1939)
Fever can kill you quicker than bullets.
4. The Day of the Locust, by Nathanael West (1939)
Hollywood is peculiar half-world of high-gruesomes.
5. The Ballad of the Sad Café, by Carson McCullers (1951)
Hunchback dwarf makes best lover.
6. Closely Watched Trains, by Bohumil Hrabal (1965)
Boy dreams at depot in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. With semaphores.
7. What Begins with Bird, by Noy Holland (2005)
Uncanny new language is concocted for mothers, for sisters, and for mourners.
8. The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett (2007)
Library is on wheels—kitchen boy encourages—Queen of England begins to write.
Leni Zumas is the author of the story collection Farewell Navigator (Open City, 2008). Her work has appeared in New York Tyrant, Quarterly West, Harp & Altar, Open City, and New Orleans Review. She is the recipient of numerous awards and is an Artist-in-Residence in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace program. She is Associate Director of the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. She currently teaches at Columbia University. Visit her HERE.