Reading List / Casey Polacheck

Casey Polacheck is a visual artist and a voracious reader. Although he has shown collaboratively throughout the years as a member of Ink Tank, he has also exhibited his own work at galleries such as Co-Lab, Tiny Park, and grayDUCK.

His exhibition Trophy Hunters opens this Friday, July 10, 2015, in grayDUCK’s Decoy Gallery. To prepare you for his exhibition, here’s a list of texts that bear some kind of influence on Polacheck’s work:


The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia

When pressed, I’ll say this is my favorite novel. It’s hard to explain; you can only vaguely describe its huge cast of characters, beautiful magical-realist language, playful structure and clever formatting. It’s an incredibly strange and sad book, full of heartbreak, and yet I always feel compelled to share it. It’s the book I’ve reread most.



“Pastoralia” by George Saunders

The humor, tragedy and workplace drama of a well-meaning guy stuck pretending to be a caveman in a living diorama. Saunders enjoys writing characters with really endearing yet sad occupations.



“The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury

Kids start to abuse the family’s virtual reality room when they keep replaying deathly scenes of lions in the African savannah. Having Stephen Colbert read it to you is particularly fun.



“Birds” by Bruno Schulz

One of those fever-dream stories. The narrator’s father begins an attic collection of tons of birds from all over the world.



“The Axolotl” by Julio Cortazar

Bored with other animals at the zoo, the narrator becomes enthralled with this strange species of salamander (which, incidentally, no longer exist in the wild).



“Animal Man” #5 by Grant Morrison

Animal Man can absorb abilities from any of his animal friends who happen to be nearby. The focus in this insane, hilarious issue is a Wile E. Coyote stand-in named Crafty Coyote. He’s a martyr for cartoon violence, cursed to wander the earth and experience countless deaths and equally awful resurrections. Also, it’s only by Issue #5 that Animal Man finally decides it’s probably appropriate for him to become a vegetarian.


The Monster at the End of This Book

One of the first books I remember holding, I made my parents reread it constantly. Dad did a decent Grover impression at the time. Here, Grover’s worried about the monster at the end of this book and will do everything in his power to stop you from turning the pages. He eventually finds that (spoiler for a ten-page book) he is in fact said monster. Heavy stuff.



“The Library of Babel” by Jorge Luis Borges

A structural description of an infinite library where the reader lives and dies among the endless stacks. I tried and failed to do a drawing like this, which sounds like the subject of another Borges story. Borges is by far my favorite author. Runner-up story might be “The Immortal.”



The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason

Forty-five reconfigurations of the Odyssey/Iliad in which a simple shift can morph into fantastic and even paradoxical retellings. I group this with Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (imagined travels and tales shared between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan), Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams (young Albert’s fictional dream journal tossing and turning over the concept of time), and Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style (99 stylistically different versions of the same scene). Lately, all of these works have influenced how I’ve been thinking about works in a series, looking at the various functional elements of my own short narratives, trying to get a little more mileage out of those pieces at play.


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