On the off chance I go to Heaven, I have prepared a reading list. The very first thing I’m going to read is The Messiah by Bruno Schulz, the novel lost after he was shot, on a whim, by an officer of the Gestapo in 1942. I’m very serious about this. If this book is not available in Heaven, I’m not going.
Then, while I’m still just settling in, harp and flight lessons etc., I want to read all of Colette’s letters to her mother Sido, which Sido burned.
Then I’m going to read whatever’s new from Clarice Lispector (I assume she wouldn’t stop writing for a nuisance so slight as death.)
I am determined to read all the papers Lavinia Dickinson burnt before she got to the final trunk and decided, “Oh, I guess I’ll save Emily’s poems.”
Then I’m going to read all the Halldor Laxness and Inagaki Taruho that bastards wouldn’t translate for me while I was alive.
Traditionally it is said that Robert Walser ceased to write when he was moved, against his will, to the second sanitarium, the one at Herisau. (The Microscripts, masterpieces in a minute hand, are from Waldau, the first mental home.) I do not believe Walser stopped writing. I don’t believe he was capable of stopping. I demand that every scribbled scrap be delivered to me in the afterlife. (I am going to need a magnifying glass.)
On the off chance I go to Heaven, if by chance you happen along, it will be easy to find me. I’ll be the dude hassling Fernando Pessoa to hassle Ricardo Reis for more poems. (Although in the afterlife I will be fluent in every language, my mother tongue is forever Portuguese.)
It is excruciating to think that Georges Perec died at just 45, depriving me of the three shelves of books he would have written had he lived to be eighty. That said, I am confident that, of all the books written in the afterlife, Georges Perec has written the very most interesting and precise book on Heaven, that radiant space. In fact, I will not know I am in Heaven until I have read what Georges Perec has to say about it.
Naturally I also want to read Frank O’Hara’s “I did this, I did that” Paradise poems and, like everyone’s else, I am very anxious to read Kafka’s Heaven.