Wednesday, November 10, 2010

fifteen authors who have shaped me in some way.

1.  Shel Silverstein.
     I assume that most would add this man to their list for such things as The Giving Tree, but honestly, he's on my list for the audiobooks of Where The Sidewalk Ends and A Light In The Attic, which I demanded to hear on just about every road trip I went on from the ages of 5 to 13, probably.  The man's voice was like a creepy, buttery lullaby that made you want to stay up and hear more, and then stay awake thinking about it.  So, not too successful as a lullaby.  Brilliant as narration.  Also, seriously, I cannot help but *adore* Runny Babbit.  Don't you?  It grieves me that Silverstein died before its publication.  I would have loved to hear him recite it.

2.  Lois Lowry.
    I know so little [read: nothing] about this author outside the realm of The Giver, but, oh.  The Giver.

3.  CS Lewis.
     I used to sit in the corner of my grandparents' huge walk-in closet, turn off the lights and wait for Narnia to come.  Enough said.

4.  Harper Lee.
     I read To Kill a Mockingbird on a camping trip with my family the summer I turned 14.  Changed my life.  It made me want to (a), play Scout on stage, even though I was already way too old, (b), name something, possibly a daughter, Harper (which is still totally in the mix, as far as I'm concerned), and (c), though I didn't fully realize it at the time, be a writer.

5.  Tim O'Brien.
     I loved reading The Things They Carried in 11th grade.  I vividly remember sitting under the table in English class, devouring it and being thoroughly creeped-out.

6.   Ernest Hemingway.
     I will be honest, the only Hemingway I've actually read is A Farewell to Arms, and I pretty much hated it. Why on earth is he on my list, then?  Because I grew up going to Key West every summer, that's why.  I used to beg my parents to take me to his house, again and again, mostly to see the the six-toed cats.  But as I got older, I appreciated the whole thing a lot more.  I love seeing his pictures all over the wall at Sloppy Joe's.  Regardless of how you feel about him, isn't it incredible to sit where he sat?

7.  JK Rowling.
     I know this one is a given for any human being even remotely interested in literature who was alive (and most likely young) from 1998 until now, but it is irrefutable.  Nothing re-reads quite as delightfully as a Harry Potter book.  Especially on the back deck at my parents' house in the middle of summer, or on the choir tour bus back in high school, or out-loud in a car with someone you love.

8.  Christina Rosetti.
     Poets were supposed to be included in this, and I wish I had more, but the first one to come to mind is always Christina Rosetti, for Goblin Market.

9.  Anne Lamott.
     Bird by Bird is the best college textbook I ever didn't buy for class.  I invested in my own copy post-graduation, because I knew it was special and I missed it (I had borrowed it and, honestly, not done very much of the reading when I was supposed to).

10.  Kelly Link.
     When I first read her short story Monster, it absolutely astounded me.  It's a bizarre, enchanting, ultimately horrifying little tale about a kid getting picked on at summer camp, and, you know, a monster.  I love it.  I can't get over the voice.  She writes the way I want to write.  I don't know how else to explain it.  Also, I read a collection of her short fiction on my honeymoon, and so her voice will always sort of remind me of that, too.

11.  Yann Martel.
     What is it about Life of Pi?  The philosophy is often over my head (as most things are), I don't really agree with Pi's religious convictions, and I still have no stinking clue what happens at the end.  But I love this book terribly, and if I get to thinking about it too much, I always want to re-read it.  It's the way the man writes, that's what.

12.  Dodie Smith.
     "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.  That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and a tea-cosy.  I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left.  And I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring-- I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen-house.  Though even that isn't a very good poem.  I have decided my poetry is so bad that I mustn't write any more of it."
     --is my favorite opening paragraph of any book I have ever read.  If you haven't yet had the absolute joy of diving into I Capture the Castle, just know that I cannot recommend it enough.  It is perhaps my true favorite, and has been for a couple of years.  It's so... melodic.  So sweet.  Honest.  Beautifully written.  Romantic (really, how can you not love a boy like Stephen Colly?).  And, in some places, completely hilarious.  I could go on and on.  Also, this woman wrote The 101 Dalmatians, and who doesn't love that?

13.  Sheldon Vanauken.
     I finally finished A Severe Mercy this past winter, and it... was... what?  Are there words to describe this man's story?  I bawled.  I learned.  I grew.  And, hey, the man was friends with Jack himself, and a good portion of the book is their correspondence.  Sharing in the grief of the women they loved.  We had a passage from it read at our wedding.  Sounds macabre, I know, but it was perfect: all about God defining a marriage.  Beautiful stuff.

14.  Laini Taylor.
     On a much, much lighter note, here is another author who writes the way I want to write.  In an effort to seem hip and reviewer-y, I wrote this post about her book Lips Touch, which is way more awesome than it may sound (the book, not my review.  The review is... just a review).

15.  Suzanne Collins.
     Here we go.  Deep breath.  The Hunger Games.  Catching Fire.   Mockingjay.  I do not know how she did it, but Suzanne Collins absolutely broke me (in a good way, kind of) with Katniss's story.  Please, friends.  Please.  Read these books.  I tore through the whole trilogy twice in five weeks, if that's any indication of my feelings.  The story is unforgettable.  And that's all I can say without turning into a total fangirl.

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