The Bird Artist by Howard Norman (Picador, $14). This 1994 novel is quirky (there is no other word) and beautiful. It concerns Fabian Vas, the bird artist of the title, and wonderful, odd Margaret, a woman who always asks questions most people wouldnt. Theres a murder and a lighthouse, and its set in Newfoundland. Just read it, though; this description is too reductive to convey all the strangeness of the thing.Buy it at Amazon.com
Nana, Diva, Luna, Lola, Vida, and Alba by Delacorta (out of print). The 1981 movie Diva was made from a book in this series about con artist Serge Gorodish and his teenage protégé Alba. These are tasty, trashy, exuberant books, with memorable characters who do the things we all want to do—and always get away with it.
No Place on Earth by Christa Wolf (out of print). An imagined conversation between the poet Karoline von Günderrode and the writer Heinrich von Kleist. Set in 1804, it is a perfect evocation of alienation, expressed through the meeting of two like minds.Buy it at Amazon.com
Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey (Vintage, $14). Francis Orme, the narrator of this book, is one of the great characters of recent fiction. An original thinker with obsessive-compulsive disorder, Francis steals other peoples loved possessions to add to his own private museum. The list of the museums objects at the back of the book is a puzzle of the first order.Buy it at Amazon.com
Easy Travel to Other Planets by Ted Mooney (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $21). A female marine biologist and a dolphin named Peter fall in love in a flooded house. Theres more to it than that, but isnt that enough to make you want to read it?Buy it at Amazon.com
Diaries of Franz Kafka 19141923