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The Books That Stick With You Long After You Read Them

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We're used to having snap judgments about books — especially if you're reviewing them, but even if you're just putting them aside and talking about them. But the best books often stick with you long after you've read them, and keep mutating in your consciousness months later, writes Graham Sleight in Locus Roundtable:

As I've mentioned here before, I'm gobsmacked - as we Brits say - with admiration for Greer Gilman's Cloud and Ashes. It's not a book I can claim to understand anything like fully and so, as in the past, I'll duck out of offering a full review. But individual bits of it, images or aspects of its use of language, keep coming back to me like depth-charge puns you only get three months after the fact. (The same is true of another great playing-with-language novel, Damon Knight's Humpty Dumpty: An Oval.)

And sometimes the stuff that stays with you is just plain weird, like the cliff made of earlobes in M John Harrison's otherwise seemingly mimetic Climbers, the description of the desert in Joanna Russ's "Bodies", or - perhaps my favorite piece of prose anywhere - the two pages about toothpaste tubes in Gravity's Rainbow. Nothing really links all of these examples, except that for me (an enormously subjective measure, I know) they stick with me.