Nearly all of the best books I've read, save All the Pretty Horses, which just bloody tortured me, broke me, heart and spirit, and highlighted in thirty-foot capital, fluorescent letters, "YOU CAN'T WRITE!" inspire me. You see, I want to be a writer. Rather, I want to be a successful writer. I want to be a writer whose stuff people want to read! The best books nearly always inspire me to write. They tickle the muses who come and circle me and whisper in my ears and give my fingers and cerebral frontal lobe the itch and make me want to CREATE. Yeah. Well, Invisible Cities has done that--and in frickin' spades, man. The last time I felt the bug this strongly (at least via a book) was when I finished Basho's Narrow Road to the Deep North (or however you want to translate it) and subsequently began my own hyohakusha and used the genre and text as model for my creative writing students' end-of-year project. (My hyohakusha ultimately failed (I'm an inadequate poet), though many of my students wrote and created brilliantly, beautifully.)
Basho was a three years ago. Since reading it, I've returned to it again and again. I've studied its poetry and form and in four or five translations. I've traced his path on maps. I've referred to and used him as model in poetry and a book of my own. Has it changed my life? I dare say it has. Maybe it just takes time for a book to climb the long stair to the top once it's arrived at--been permitted access to--the base. If this is the case (and you can't tell right away if it's happened), I expect Basho will soon arrive at the top right along with Steinbeck et al and Calvino will have likely just recently begun the ascent. Time will tell, I suppose.
Regardless, this book amazed and amazes me. I am eager to read it again.