Essential fantasy list a la VanderMeer

A friend and one of my favourite writers, Jeff VanderMeer, has been adding to his already considerable workload by playing the old list game. He has a long list of Essential Fantasy works up, which is diverse and eclectic in content and has been attracting plenty of comments and suggestions. The list as he posted it at the moment stands as :

1. Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov
2. The Gormenghast Trilogy, Mervyn Peake
3. Lanark, Alasdair Gray
4. Jerusalem Poker, Edward Whittemore
5. The Chess Garden, Brooks Hansen
6. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, Angela Carter
7. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
8. Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges
9. Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter
10. Observatory Mansions, Edward Carey
11. Possession, A.S. Byatt
12. In Viriconium, M. John Harrison
13. Arc d’X, Steve Erickson
14. V, Thomas Pynchon
15. Sinai Tapestry, Edward Whittemore
16. Quin’s Shanghai Circus, Edward Whittemore
17. If Upon a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino
18. Collected Stories, Franz Kafka
19. The Master & Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
20. Mother London, Michael Moorcock
21. The Collected Stories, J.G. Ballard
22. A Fine and Private Place, Peter S. Beagle
23. The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster
24. Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
25. The Birth of the People’s Republic of Antarctica, John Calvin Bachelor
26. House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski
27. The Riddle Master trilogy, Patricia McKillip
28. The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino
29. The Other Side, Alfred Kubin
30. The Circus of Doctor Lao, Charles Finney
31. A Voyage to Arcturus, David Lindsay
32. The Circus of the Earth & the Air, Brooke Stevens
33. Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift
34. Dictionary of the Khazars, Milorad Pavic
35. At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O’Brian
36. The Troika, Stepan Chapman
37. The Fan-maker’s Inquisition, Rikki Ducornet
38. Solomon Gursky Was Here, Mordechai Richler
39. Darconville’s Cat, Alexander Theroux
40. Don Quixote, Cervantes
41. Poor Things, Alasdair Gray
42. Geek Love, Katherine Dunn
43. The Land of Laughs, Jonathan Carroll
44. The Wizard of Earthsea trilogy, Ursula K. LeGuin
45. The House on the Borderland, William Hope Hodgson
46. Little Big, John Crowley
47. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
48. The General in His Labyrinth, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
49. The Seven Who Fled, Frederick Prokosch
50. Already Dead, Denis Johnson
51. The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, Jeffrey Ford
52. Phosphor in Dreamland, Rikki Ducornet
53. The Passion of New Eve, Angela Carter
54. Views From the Oldest House, Richard Grant
55. Life During Wartime, Lucius Shepard
56. The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, Barry Hughart
57. The Famished Road, Ben Okri
58. Altmann’s Tongue, Brian Evenson
59. Girl Imagined by Chance, Lance Olsen
60. The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant & Other Stories, Jeffrey Ford

There are some brilliant writers in there, not all of whom some people would classify as fantasy (I’ve had several arguments over the years when I tell folk Alasdair Gray’s Lanark is a work of fantasy for example), but a a list to spark off ideas for future reading I’d commend it to anyone. Comment or suggest others to Jeff and if you are interested in books then you should visit Jeff’s site from time to time because not only is he an incredibly gifted writer he spends his time helping to promote good writing with author interviews, reviews and masterclasses. And you should be reading his work as well – even if you are not generally a fantasy fan you will find something to admire in them, with City of Saints and Madmen and Shriek both reminiscent of some of the finest authors such as Kafka and Borges. And looking over this list I have read only about a third of them – and I’m not poorly-read by any stretch of the imagination. So many good books demanding to be read…