Laird Barron: Scotch, my dog. Not living in the Arctic anymore.
Adam Blue: “You won’t start making art until you stop making art.” An older, and much wiser, artist once told me this after spending all of five seconds looking at the best painting I ever made. It really hurt my feelings. Probably because it was, and is, completely true.
Matthew Cheney: All of the songs on the Mountain Goats’ 2009 album The Life of the World to Come are titled with references to books, chapters, and verses of the Bible. (None, alas, are from Revelations.) The album as a whole is, for me, a mixed lot — the band (which was once just John Darnielle) has paradoxically become less interesting and imaginative as their musical skill and production values have increased; indeed, their latest, Transcendental Youth, is for me the least interesting album yet released under the Mountain Goats name. Until Transcendental Youth, the recent albums each have had at least a couple captivating songs, and on The Life of the World to Come the most breathtaking is “Deuteronomy 2:10″, one of the saddest songs I’ve ever encountered (and I’m a Tom Waits fan!). The music is a simple progression of piano chords that fall into a few melodic notes at the end. Darnielle sings quietly, sometimes in a whisper. Each verse of the song is told from the point of view of an animal that is the last of its kind: a tasmanian wolf, a dodo, and a golden toad. Each verse ends with the phrase “there’ll be no more after me.” If you can listen to this song without tears in your eyes, you are a monster.
Howard P. Lovecraft: The White People by Arthur Machen. A masterpiece of fantastic writing, with almost unlimited power in the intimation of potent hideousness and cosmic aberration.
Nick Mamatas: The late Project Itoh is one of the greatest SF writers I’ve had the pleasure of reading. His novels Genocidal Organ and Harmony (to be read in that order, but published in the US in reverse order) are absolutely essential. Please check him out.
Meghan McCarron: While I hesitate to be that guy recommending an app, I’m going to do it anyway: Songza is an expertly curated streaming service that has turned me on to all sorts of great stuff, from “indie R&B” like Marques Toliver to an entire station of Texas country classics. The station based on Bob Dylan’s radio show gave me “Russian Satellite” by Mighty Sparrow, a calypso protest song about Laika’s untimely death. If I like a song on Songza, I save it on Spotify, where I also waste hours clicking down the “related artists” rabbit hole. Yesterday this glorious procrastination lead me to Brigitte, a faux-60’s French girl band; today it snaked me back to Beth Orton’s “Central Reservation,” which I hadn’t heard in ten years and has gotten even better with age. On a more topical note, if you haven’t heard the Mountain Goats’ “Lovecraft in Brooklyn,” please don’t let the fact that I cribbed the title deter you: it’s a great song.
Luis Rodrigues: Earlier this year, I picked up a copy of Last Days by Brian Evenson at a friend’s place and was hooked from line one. It was clever and funny and twisted and unexpected and I placed an order for a big box of Evenson books right then and there on my smartphone. Discovering Evenson truly felt like a revelation, and there’s nothing quite like those first few seconds of elation when you realize you’re in the presence of genius.
Eric Schaller: The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer. This anthology is appropriate to The Revelator’s theme this issue, if only because Lovecraft is one of the major influences on the literature of the weird. But where this anthology parts company with pure genre is in placing Kafka as the other major influence, Lovecraft and Kafka looming over the weird literature of the past century like a pallid two-headed Mount Rushmore. Recognizing these two strains of influence opens The Weird up to the world of fiction like no anthology before it. Covering over 100 years of fiction, and weighing in at over 750,000 words, this book is more than just a revelation, it is a feast that outdoes and outlasts any holiday celebration.
Brian Francis Slattery: The falsetto of Dona Dumitru Siminica.
Sonya Taaffe: Alan Turing.
Chad Woody: Amidst the Internet flood, I am increasingly impressed with things that go undigitized. While tinkering at a novel set in the Old West, I found Wikipedia and Google indispensable for historical information. But I also found an excellent little free newspaper called Voices of the Sandhills while driving through Nebraska a year ago. It’s full of 1800s frontier lore, photos of gunfighters and Native Americans, and odd ranching tales. None of it appears on the Internet. The entire enterprise seems based in another era of publishing. To get copies, you must drive through Nebraska, or subscribe by mail.