Voynich Manuscript, hands down. Also one of the world’s great mysteries. Nothing about this book seems to make any sense at all, not the bizarre, undeciphered language, code, or cipher, not the weird drawings of plants that don’t exist, not the astronomy based on no known astrological system, not the cosmology based on no cosmological system ever encountered, nothing.
The date it was written is thought to be around 1500, but the author or authors are unknown, and the subject of much speculation. None of the theories really completely add up or make sense. It’s just one gigantic, endless pile of weirdness, the solution to which went to its grave with the author(s).
You can download the whole book in pdf here. I haven’t bothered, but some of you arcana buffs may wish to give it a whirl.
Runner’s up? Marienbad, My Love (2008). Go ahead, read it! It’s only 30,000 pages long.
Tired of Hemingway’s short, clipped, sentences? Have no fear. A 2,000 page single sentence in this book will cure of that forever and make you come running back to Hem or Bukowski.
One of the things we love about English are the lack of those annoying monosyllabic words that the Asian languages have. Our words can be quite long. For instance, this book has a single word that is 750 pages long. You can live, die, get resurrected and still never make it to the next word. Talk about leaving you hanging on every word.
Even weirder is The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion (1973), 15,500 pages illustrated by several hundred pages of drawings and paintings, produced by the super-weird author Henry Darger. Want to read it? Too bad. It’s never been published. He didn’t dash it off like these supermarket novel authors. On the contrary, the book took him a mere 60 years to complete.
I am convinced that Darger did not have schizophrenia, as is often speculated. Darger’s is a good example of “outsider art.” I think outsider art is really cool, but then I’m pretty damn weird myself.
Outsider music is pretty boss, too. I prefer The Shaggs, Captain Beefheart, The Residents, Syd Barrett and Roky Erikson. Forget Wild Man Fischer. Fischer, Barrett and Erikson all clearly suffer from schizophrenia. Their best work was produced in the early stages of the illness, as one might expect.
Erikson was a leader of the great pyschedelic band, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators. Check out Roky Erikson and the Aliens, The Evil One, a cult classic album from 1981, recorded when he was very mentally ill. It’s great stuff, man!