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I'm often asked by newcomers to Keeler which book should they read first. All of us Keeler scholars like Richard Polt, Mike Nevins or Gavin O'Keefe are asked that. Well, here's my answer.


The Riddle of the Travelling Skull. Why? Because it's easily the most read Keeler and one that all Keelerites can talk about with confidence. It was published by McSweeney's recently and copies are not too hard to find. It's quintessential Keeler and a damn good read.


But chances are, Travelling is how you were introduced to Keeler. What next? Here are my favorite Keelers in a sort of order:


The Sharkskin Book -- Incredible plot and solution

Thieves' Night -- Tour-de-force of intricate plotting

I, Chameleon -- most amazing unreliable narrator ever

The Marceau Case & X. Jones -- Flying Strangler Baby Epistolary Novel, need I say more?

The Skull in the Box -- Four novels about a trial and a skull, Ramble House's best deal

The Box from Japan -- Marcel Proust for Literary Masochists

The Six from Nowhere -- Mike Nevin's favorite Screwball Circus

The Spectacles of Mr. Cagliostro -- Actually scary nuthouse novel

Any title beginning with The Case of -- The crackpot novels, most published by Phoenix Press

Fakealoo! -- For sheer fun, the parodies are priceless

The Keeler Keyhole Collection -- The best way to get to know Harry himself. Amazing collection of newsletters

The Voice of the Seven Sparrows -- Classic early Keeler

The Big River Trilogy -- Perhaps the most dangerous prose ever written

Report on Vanessa Hewstone -- Strictly for Screamo the Clown fans

The Vanishing Gold Truck -- The definitive Screwball Circus/Ol' Twistibus yarn

A to Izzard -- Several different views of Harry Keeler and his world


I try to steer new Keelerites away from the SF novels (The White Circle, Strange Journey) and some of the novels that, maybe for a good reason, were never published in English. But maybe some people like them. I didn't, personally. But Harry Keeler was no fool -- far from it -- and he always put his blood, sweat and incredible imagination into everything he wrote. He lived to write and you could do worse things with your life than read every word Harry ever wrote. There is still one finished novel languishing unread in the bowels of Columbia University (The Sign of the Crossed Leaves) and I plan to live long enough to read it -- and perhaps publish it. I only wish that Harry had been more appreciated while he was alive. Thanks to Mike Nevins, Richard Polt, Gavin O'Keefe and, gulp, me, you can show your appreciation by getting on the Keeler train. It's a wild ride -- from A to Izzard!


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