Lynch and Herzog—in book form
October 17, 2014 10:01 PM   Subscribe

Looking for Lynchian and Herzogian books and authors.

Lately I've been on a David Lynch and, thanks to the recent release of most of Herzog's classic films on Blu Ray (been waitin' years for 'em fuckers to come out on Blu Ray), kick and I know that after finishing the Lynch-directed Twin Peaks (OK—he didn't direct every episode) and Blue Velvet and Herzog's classic films I'll be craving more films by these two fucking amazing directors.

Now I realize that books and films differ in their ways. But which authors or books do you feel have a kinda Lynchian or Herzogian tone to them—books that make you think 'Holy cow, this could've been written by (INSERT 'HERZOG' OR 'LYNCH' HERE)!'—books that come even semi-close to being something that could've been written by either of those directors.

And there's my question. Hope I'll discover good shit.
posted by GlassHeart to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Haruki Murakami is like the Lynch of Japan to me. Obviously he is his own unique thing, but there's a lot of similarities in themes and tone, imho.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 10:08 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Murakami shares many stylistic and thematic elements with Lynch. Have you read The Wind-up Bird Chronicle?
posted by mr_roboto at 10:11 PM on October 17, 2014

Hmm... What is it you like about Herzog? For me, it's the total utter commitment to each work, along with a unique worldview that while on the surface appears bleak, is actually deeply committed to fully embodying the human experience. I get that feeling from certain Holocaust literature and other Eastern European authors that describe deep suffering but full engagement. I'm thinking specifically of Vasily Grossman and Imre Kertesz, although both lack the surrealist edge of the filmmakers you name. Maybe The Handmaid's Tale or Russel Hoban's Riddley Walker? Everything I've mentioned is explicitly apocalyptic, which I don't think is exactly what you're going for. How about Kenzaburo Oe? David Wojnarowicz?

I'm thinking you want something very masculine, but maybe unconventionally so...

Interesting question!
posted by latkes at 10:16 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Jerzy Kosinski.
posted by Rash at 10:22 PM on October 17, 2014

Franz Kafka and David Lynch share a taste for the surreal. Lynch considers him an inspiration and has even taken a stab at translating some of his work into screenplay form.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:28 PM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

2nding Kosinski. Most people know him for _Being There_, but I felt that was one of his weakest works, and not at all typical. I'd recommend starting with _Steps_, and if you could handle that, try _The Painted Bird_, and then _Cockpit_ and/or _Blind Date_ (they're somewhat similar in structure and story).

Michael Marshall Smith's novel _Spares_ has some Lynchian dreamlike qualities to it.

Norman Mailer's _An American Dream_ and _Tough Guys Don't Dance_ have a certain ineffable kind of _Blue Velvet_ feel to them. What latkes said about "masculine" applies.

Not literature, but in case you missed them, Lynch has done some ummm Lynchian music videos recently. The one with Moby is definitely worth a look-see.

[Normally I'd add links and HTML-ize the text, but I'm on my iPad and it's a PITA]
posted by doctor tough love at 10:55 PM on October 17, 2014

If you haven't read Barry Gifford's Wild at Heart, Lynch's film is pretty spot on.
posted by Rikocolin at 11:02 PM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think Tim Powers reminds me of David Lynch, especially the Last Call series-- Last Call, Expiration Date, and Earthquake Weather. Also maybe The Stress of Her Regard?
posted by sevenless at 11:27 PM on October 17, 2014

Jennifer Lynch wrote The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer.

And it is AWESOME.
posted by jbenben at 11:56 PM on October 17, 2014

Paul Auster's "mystery" novels remind me of later period Lynch. Also Steve Erickson.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:20 AM on October 18, 2014

Djinn by Alain Robbe-Grillet. Beware spoilers in the plot summary section of that link though.
posted by juv3nal at 5:53 AM on October 18, 2014

Read Werner Herzog's "Conquest of the Useless" ASAP. It's his journal he kept while filming Fitzcarraldo. It offers everything that is weird and transcendent about Herzog's mind, style and creativity.

In fact, just read anything he's written. "Of Walking On Ice", his journal of walking from Paris to Munich in the dead of winter so he could reach the film historian Lotte Eisner on her deathbed (he believed he'd save her from dying if he walked the entire distance).

Interviews with Herzog are also very rewarding.

You're also going to want to look into Errol Morris's "Observations on the Mysteries of Photography" (more in the direction of Herzog - the two are friends and have their own unique approaches to film/documentary, but I think there's overlap - see this interview/conversation between the two here).

Adolfo Bioy Casares' "The Invention of Morel" (on which the film Last Year At Marienbad's screenplay by Robbe-Grillet was loosely based) is quite surreal and Lynchian.

Also, anything by Latin American boom/post-boom novelists like Julio Cortazar, Jose Donoso, Luisa Valenzuela, Rubem Fonseca, Miguel Asturias are fantastically surreal and bizarre.

I'm an obsessive Herzog fan, feel free to memail if you're ever looking for a recommendation on other works by him to watch soon - there are a lot of hard to find short films worth tracking down.
posted by nightrecordings at 6:23 AM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lynchian books:
The Street of Crocodiles, by Bruno Schulz.
Black Hole, by Charles Burns.
The Spectral Link, by Thomas Ligotti.
My Idea of Fun, by Will Self.
The Starry Wisdom: A Tribute to H. P. Lovecraft, ed. D. M. Mitchell (not your usual HPL tribute!)
Stranger Things Happen, by Kelly Link.
The Insult, by Rupert Thomson.
Don't Read This Book, ed. Chuck Wendig.
The Black Dahlia, by James Ellroy.
It, by Stephen King. (King and Lynch can be more similar than people expect.)
Uh-Oh City, by Jonathan Carroll.
Mondo Desperado, by Patrick McCabe.
The Hellbound Heart, by Clive Barker.
Floating Dragon, by Peter Straub.
The Double, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
The Tenant, by Roland Topor.
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, by Philip K. Dick.
Harold Pinter, pretty much anything.
Franz Kafka, pretty much anything.

Herzogian books:
Conquest of the Useless, by Werner Herzog.
This article from Outside magazine. I am not kidding.
Satantango, by László Krasznahorkai.
On the Road to Badabag, by Andrzej Stasiuk.
The Last Messiah, by Peter Zapffe.
The Lost City of Z, by David Grann.
Concrete Island, by J. G. Ballard.
Wisconsin Death Trip, by Michael Lesy.
A Criminal History of Mankind, by Colin Wilson.
The Denial of Death, by Ernest Becker.
Liminal States, by Zack Parsons.
Lucifer Unemployed, by Aleksander Wat.
Hitler's Priestess, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke.
Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius.
The Diary of a Rapist, by Evan S. Connell.
Rogue Male, by Geoffery Household.
Mobius, the comic artist.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:28 AM on October 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

Another Lynchian and/or Herzogian author to follow: Zoran Živković.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:34 AM on October 18, 2014

Lynch and Herzog are both very multidimensional artists, despite each being very easy to stereotype and parody. There are a lot good suggestions above, depending on what aspects you want to key onto. If you want an author who expresses an oceanic sense of existential despair (and why wouldn't you?) you might check out W.G. Sebald.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:27 AM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would go with anything by Barry Gifford, honestly.
posted by Kitteh at 10:16 AM on October 18, 2014

Sticherbeast already mentioned the marvellous Rupert Thomson, I see. Seconding The Insult, but try also The Five Gates of Hell, Divided Kingdom and The Book of Revelation.
posted by Decani at 5:43 PM on October 18, 2014

Strongly seconding Steve Erickson (not to be confused with Steven Erikson) as being Lynchian.
posted by dfan at 12:05 PM on October 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

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