An Oscar Director's Nightstand

What the Oscar nominated John Patrick Shanley is reading.

02.21.09 7:07 AM ET

The Perfumed Garden
by Shaykh Nefzawi

The erotic manual The Perfumed Garden by Shaykh Nefzawi, translated by Sir Richard F. Burton, contains a wonderful story about a beggar outwitting a greedy princess. There is also much sexual arcania; for instance, a long list of alternate names for the male member, including The Rummager and The Crowbar.


This Gun for Hire and Brighton Rock
by Graham Greene

Graham Greene's "entertainments," as he called these short books, offer mesmerizing narratives of suspense. They are complicated by Greene's tortured vision of modern life as idealism caught in relativistic quicks. This Gun for Hire and Brighton Rock are especially good.



Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales
by Dr. Marie Von Franz

And finally, Shadow and Evil in Fairytales by Dr. Marie Von Franz is a psychological explication of some fairytales, Russian, African, and otherwise, by a deeply insightful and plain spoken Swiss acolyte of Carl Jung. I have nowhere else felt the chill of evil leavened so interestingly with insight.



The Road Leads On
by Knut Hamsun

The Road Leads On by Knut Hamsun is a fascinating tale by an important if morally imperiled novelist. (An unfortunate photo op with Hitler late in life.) I guarantee this slowly building portrait of a manager of a sheep farm will never leave you. The theme of the book: “Drive without purpose leads inevitably to destruction” certainly has its applications in today's world.


Horatio Hornblower
by C.S. Forester

If you're in the mood to commit to a world completely rendered in a series of books, the Captain Horatio Hornblower series is a ripping good read, a pitch perfect rendition of the Napoleonic wars as conducted in the age of sail on the high seas.