This weekend Middlebrow, my father and I watched "Stone Reader," a documentary about a guy who read a book, The Stones of Summer, and then became obsessed with the author, Dow Mossman, because he'd never written anything else. So Mark, the filmmaker, sets out on this quest to find Dow, and in the meantime he interviews book critics and Leslie Fiedler and a bunch of writers who went to Iowa at about the same time as Dow. The movie is ultimately about more than just the one book and Dow, who never published another book (and in my opinion has OCD and is hypergraphic). It's about Mark's love of books and how books, even just one book, can change your life forever. Mark talks about Catch-22, which was one of my favorite books in high school. My junior year I had this amazing teacher and we also read No Exit and Waiting for Godot. Talk about mind blowing.
I recommend everyone see this movie. In the meantime, I want to know, what book did it for you? What was the one book that took the top of your head off and made you understand what books can do when they are really, really, really, really good?
Since Catch-22 is taken (by filmmaker Mark), I'll say Slaughterhouse 5 (and pretty much everything by Vonnegut) and The World According to Garp. I went through a big Vonnegut and Irving phase in high school and read everything by both of them. I've since fallen behind on both, but I still love them.
How about you?