True Detective reading list

At some point next week I’m going to try writing about The Courier’s Tragedy, Jacobian revenge plays, and bad guy motivations.  I’ve started working Nazis into my class’s final project, and I’m beginning to think that might be too easy.  So I’ve got to roll this around in my head over the weekend to see what pops out.

In the meantime, I stumbled onto a list I made last summer after scouring the internet for reading material related to True Detective.  I’m thinking of suggesting to Canelli that we rewatch it so he can break that shit down for us.  Until I do that, here’s the list, culled from multiple sources across the internet and (mostly) reddit.

Texts Immediately Relavent To The Show

  • David Benatar’s “Better to Have Never Been?”
  • Ray Brassier’s “Nihil Unbound”
  • Robert W. Chambers’s “The King in Yellow” (The main text the show seems to draw most symbols and some plot structure from.)
  • Emil Cioran’s “The Fall Into Time”
  • Jim Crawford’s “Confessions of an Antinatalist”
  • Dante’s “Inferno” (Dante & Virgil’s encounter with the Minotaur. Also, CIRCLES, man!)
  • Richard Dawkins’s “The Selfish Gene” and “The God Delusion” (Dawkins invents the idea of ideas & languages having viral properties. “Selfish Gene” is a must read for anybody alive in the 21st Century.)
  • Brian Greene’s “The Elegant Universe” (If you want to get an idea of what Rust is talking about with regards to “M-Branes” and such. A word of warning, though: string theory as a true scientific hypothesis died back in the early ’00s with the development of the string theory landscape.)
  • Stephen King’s “The Lawnmower Man” (Saw somewhere that lawns and lawn mowing is a massive symbol used throughout TD.)
  • Thomas Ligotti’s “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race” (Without a doubt the number one recommendation folks have given for understanding TD.)
  • H.P. Lovecraft’s “Notes on Writing Weird Fiction” and “Shadow Over Innsmouth”
  • Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” (I debated this one with myself for a while, but Ahab’s monologue about striking through the pasteboard mask really seals the connection between him and Rust.)
  • Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” and “Beyond Good and Evil”
  • Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49” (Another play-within-a-book narrative that has a heavy reliance on conspiracy theories and paranoia.)
  • Eugene Thacker’s “In the Dust of this Planet” (As heard on Radiolab!)
  • Karl Edward Wagner’s short story “Sticks”
  • W.B. Yeats’s “A Vision” and “The Second Coming”
  • Peter Wessel Zapffe’s “The Last Messiah”
  • The Bhagavad Gita
  • The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism, “The Book Of Symbols: Reflections On Archetypal Images”
  • The Upanishads

Art/Television/Movies Relavent To The Show

  • Andy Goldsworthy’s stick sculptures.
  • Twin Peaks (TD can be seen as a slightly more coherent, grittier, and more pessimistic version of this excellent show.)
  • The Big Lebowski (for a, uh, comparative analysis of nihilism in popular culture)

Texts Seen In The Show

Most of these books are from this screen cap. If you know of any other screencaps from the show showing Rust’s books or if you know what book Marty was reading when “Crash” and “Ginger” first reunite, post in the comments and I’ll add them to this list.

  • John E. Douglas, Ann W. Burgess and Robert K. Ressler’s “Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives”
  • Christopher D Duncan’s “Advanced Crime Scene Photography”
  • Louis N. Eliopulos’s “Death Investigator’s Handbook: A Field Guide To Crime Scene Processing, Forensic Evaluations, And Investigative Techniques”
  • Barry A. J. Fisher and David R. Fisher’s “Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation”
  • David Lester’s “Serial Killers: The Insatiable Passion”
  • William R. Maples and Michael Browning’s “Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist”
  • Brian Marriner’s “On Death’s Bloody Trail: Murder and the Art of Forensic Science”
  • W. S. Merwin’s “The Second Four Books of Poems”
  • Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil”
  • George B. Palermo and Richard N. Kocsis’s “Offender Profiling: An Introduction To The Sociopsychological Analysis Of Violent Crime”
  • Theodore Roethke’s “The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke”
  • Alice Vachss “Sex Crimes” (Not in the screencap. I just remember it from when Marty first walked into Rust’s apartment.)

Where To Next

  • Laird Barron
  • Ambrose Bierce’s “An Inhabitant of Carcosa” and “Haita the Shepherd”
  • James Blish’s “More Light”
  • Roberto Bolaño’s “2666”
  • James Lee Burke (It’s suggested to go with those novels featuring detective Dave Robicheaux.)
  • Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities”
  • Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep”
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
  • Meister Eckhart (No specific works were listed, so…good luck.)
  • Brian Evenson’s “Last Days”
  • Neil Gaiman’s “I Cthulhu”
  • William Gay’s “I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down”
  • Joe Hill’s “My Father’s Mask”
  • Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery and Other Stories”
  • Denis Johnson’s “Jesus’ Son”
  • S.T. Joshi’s “American Supernatural Tales”
  • Heidi Julavits’s “The Vanishers”
  • John Langan
  • Victor LaValle’s “Big Machine”
  • Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian,” “Child of God,” and “No Country For Old Men”
  • David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas”
  • Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette’s “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine”
  • Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood”
  • Nic Pizzolatto’s “Galveston”
  • Edgar Allan Poe’s “Eureka” and “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym” (or, you know, basically anything he’s written.)
  • Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.’s “A Season In Carcosa”
  • Karen Russell’s “Swamplandia!”
  • Arthur Schopenhauer’s “The World as Will and Representation”
  • Marcel Schwob’s “The King Who Bore the Golden Mask”
  • Simon Strantzas
  • Andrew Vachss
  • Karl Edward Wagner’s “River of Night’s Dreaming”
  • Richard Wagner’s “Parsifal”
  • Oscar Wilde’s “Salome”
  • Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s “The Illuminatus! Trilogy”

Am I missing anything?

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