You read a book. You have no idea what it is about, but you simply can't put it down. When you finish, you immediately re-read it. When you are done you are still at a loss, but you know that you have just read a great book.

I have felt this way numerous times over the course of my reading life, most notably with:

  • The Obscene Bird of Night, by Jose Donoso
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Marcia Marquez
  • The Castle, by Franz Kafka
  • Outer Dark, by Cormac McCarthy

    What is common about these works? They are beautifully written. They create their own world. The draw you in. Yet this is true of many books I wouldn't put in this category.

    There is one other trait they have in common: in each of the above works the book's meaning seems just out of reach. They tantalize, if you will.

    And they compel you to re-read them, perhaps in a search for that illusory meaning. Words indelibly etched in memory. Setting the mind on fire.

    It is almost as if they exist in another dimension. One has the feeling that when our world is vaporized these works will still exist.