The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
Mann's narrative suspends time. When I was a young soldier, stationed in Germany, I fantasized about contracting TB and serving out my enlistment in a Swiss sanitarium like Mann's Berghof.
Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima
Spring Snow is the first book of Mishima's Sea Of Fertility Tetralogy. I could have picked any of the other three books in the tetralogy -- Runaway Horses, The Temple Of Dawn, or The Decay Of The Angel -- but Spring Snow was my introduction to Mishima. When he finished the tetralogy, Mishima forced his way into the offices of the Japanese Ministry of Defense and committed seppuku there.
Julian by Gore Vidal
No historical figure is more real to me than the Emperor Julian; no historical novel more satisfying than Julian.
Up Above The World by Paul Bowles
I read Up Above The World before I read Bowles' North African books: The Sheltering Sky, Let It Come Down and The Spider's House. I always reread those three books together, but I reread Up Above The World, set in South America, by itself. For the Beat Generation, Up Above The World is the ultimate horror story.
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
I've reread Blood Meridian a dozen times, searching for regeneration and redemption, but never found it. Redemption eluded McCarthy until The Road.