There are many decisions a young Literary Man must make as he decorates the walls of his freshman dorm room. Many of these decisions, perhaps not surprisingly, will dictate the outcome of his entire life. The attractiveness and aptitude of his spouse, his literary career, the probability of losing his hair, his eventual preference and ultimate dependence on certain sexual positions, and even the color of his sport-sedan may depend on the different things the young Literary Man chooses to put on the walls of his room.

Most of the wall-bound artifacts the young Literary Man may choose will  probably fall into the three easily defined categories: 1) Failure; 2) Cliche; and 3) Literary. The optimal Literary Dorm must surprisingly dabble in a mixture of these three categories, the way that a properly mixed Manhattan must employ the services of a fine bourbon, a pedestrian red vermouth, and the bitterest of bitters. If the young Literary Man uses only literary artifacts to decorate his dorm room, he appears vainglorious and bland; in this way he advertises not his love for fiction but for science fiction and castles; in this way he reveals that he has never really “known” a woman.

The Literary Dorm is best served with four parts literary, one part cliche, and just a dash or two of failure. To wit: at the young Literary Man’s favorite bookstore you can buy posters of old book covers. Best not to overdo it, but one or at the very most two literary book cover posters can aptly express the young Literary Man’s taste and aesthetic. It should go without saying that the young Literary Man must never put a poster on his wall of a book he has not read; the two posters, also, should be evenly spaced throughout the room so as to not appear in competition with one another, the way that Catch-22 and One Hundred Years of Solitude are, without a doubt, the two greatest works of fiction in the twentieth-century, but cannot really share the same wall-space because of their drastic and necessary conceptual differences.

The young Literary Man’s obligatory cliche poster should come in the form of  a pin-up. It is inevitable that the young Literary Man will commit himself to several hours of procrasturbation in the Literary Dorm every day and the walls of his room should reflect this. It’s probably best to have at least one or two well-known pin-ups, at the very least, to generate friendly banter among the other young literary men who  live on the young Literary Man’s hall. Finally, the dash of failure: the Literary Man must have at least one reproduction of a work of well-known impressionist art in his room. Pathetically, the reproduction will come from the university book store, where thousands of other students will be buying the exact same Starry Night replica. The thing about the Starry Night replica is that many young literary ladies will visit the Literary Dorm. The very best of them will ask about the young Literary Man’s literary posters; the very worst — though possibly most attractive — will ask about the Literary Man’s Starry Night painting. They will say, “Oh, I love this painting!” and the young Literary Man will agree, sagely, that it is indeed a masterpiece.

A troubling trend of insufficiently sized red dresses
A Necessary Lapse in Judgment

The final–and possibly most important–element of the Literary Dorm is of course the young Literary Man’s bookshelf. The word “bookshelf” here, of course, meaning the pile of books the young Literary Man haphazardly scatters around the floor and desk in his undersized room. These are books the young Literary Man has already read, or, more likely, has every intention of reading very soon. They are also, for better or worse, probably books that are written by literary men, as the young Literary Man’s reading taste is still virile in its scope and truculent in its design.

These are the books the young Literary Man has already read:

  • ON THE ROAD
  • ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST
  • THE SUN ALSO RISES
  • FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS
  • ALL THE PRETTY HORSES
  • THE STRANGER
  • FIGHT CLUB
  • BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY
  • THE PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
  • SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE
  • THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN

These are the books the young Literary Man intends to read:

  • MOBY-DICK; OR THE WHALE
  • ALL THE KING’S MEN
  • DON QUIXOTE
  • THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
  • THE BIG SLEEP
  • INVISIBLE MAN
  • THE OBSCENE BIRD OF NIGHT
  • WAR AND  PEACE
  • THE SOUND AND THE FURY
  • ULYSSES
  • HOPSCOTCH
  • MADAME BOVARY
  • THE BIBLE
  • FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
  • THE RECOGNITIONS
  • BLOOD MERIDIAN