Poetry Madness

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

Lucky's Pick's


Lucky is an "Internet runner" – he helps gather books for your order. He has interviewed William Kennedy, Amy Bloom, and Emo Phillips. He has also interrogated his younger sister about marbles missing from his collection. Lucky swears he has a tattoo of a lava lamp on his biceps that changes color and shape as he heats up. And, most important of all to this endeavor, he reads books sometimes.


Lucky Says:

The Art of Hunger Paul Auster is one of my favorites. Read anything by him. He is influenced by writers such as Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, Edmond Jabes, Paul Celan, and Georges Bataille. The first book of his I read was a book of essays, The Art of Hunger, which led me to read many other fine writers, including Knut Hamsun. Auster is a very literate writer, his prose is spare and exact, and he is a remarkably mysterious writer too. Start with The New York Trilogy (City of Glass, Ghosts, The Locked Room). The three stories in the Trilogy are separate entities, able to stand on their own, but there's a certain amount of interconnectedness that makes them very exciting. Another good book of his is In the Country of Last Things.

Hunger The aforementioned Knut Hamsun is a wonderful writer. Born in Norway, Hamsun won the Nobel Prize in 1920. A book in the vein of Gogol or Kafka's Metamorphosis (but written 25 years earlier), Hunger, is a good place to start.

The Sibyl by Par Lagerkvist, another Nobel winner, is a lyrical novel in the guise of a parable or fable. Or maybe it's a parable or fable in the guise of a lyrical novel. Either way, it's just plain good.

Read anything by Joe Sacco – he's great—but start with Palestine. Sacco is extremely funny and politically astute, and his drawings are genius!

And while I'm on the topic of funny political satire, check out Under the Frog by Tibor Fischer. I actually laughed out loud a good dozen or so times while reading this great book wherein a nude, drunken basketball team careens around postwar Eastern Europe. Tibor is part Hungarian, if that makes any difference to you. If it doesn't matter to you, he's still part Hungarian.

First Love and Other Shorts Ever read Samuel Beckett? Why, I really like this dead Irish writer! For those who've never read him, I recommend starting with First Love and Other Shorts. Otherwise, I highly recommend Murphy, His first published novel. A very funny, sad book.

And how about those Russians?! Better read than dead! I love 'em! Try Turgenev's First Love. Or Gogol's The Overcoat, one of the greatest short stories ever written – in any language. Then there's that Russian/American Vladimir Nabokov. Lolita is one of my favorite books. His opening to that book is the finest piece of prose writing I've read in a long while.

Enormous Changes at the Last Minute I tend to like writers who are a bit nontraditional, and in that vein, Grace Paley is one of the best. Try Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, her second collection, which contains 15 years worth of her city-set stories.

And finally, a poetry recommendation: It is Hard to Look at What We Came to Think We'd Come to See by Michele Glazer. Glazer lives in Portland. This volume was selected by Jorie Graham for the Associated Writing Program's Award Series in Poetry, drawing comparisons to Elizabeth Bishop.

  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.