Sunday, March 08, 2009

Twenty Five Authors Meme

It has been awhile since I have been tagged. Maybe my natural abhorrence of anything smelling like homework had somehow oozed through with my words and people were afraid I might start whining. This tag thing in the Blog World generally has the blogsters divided into two cliques. There's the cool kids who swap tags and awards every other day and mutually support each other through them. And the cooler kids who are too cool for tags, awards, and other silly nonsense. They stand aloof and do the Garbo thing. "I vahnt to be alone". Damn. It's high school all over again. As the perennial square peg in the round hole I sit outside and know I will never fit in with either group.

No matter. I have been tagged by Dawn on MDI. Dawn is an excellent blogist, blogger, blogette (ew, she won't like that one) - She writes one of the blogs I visit because her mind is fascinating to me. Rough around the edges on the outside, yet very complex and surprising on the inside. She pounds nails and welds. But she cooks up dishes and presents them like Martha Stewart is standing over her shoulder. A very interesting woman I consider a friend. So without the normal piss and moan histrionics, I will follow through now.

It is a "25 authors who have influenced my writing" meme. I would have preferred 5, but I am not going to get off that easy. So neither will you. Unless of course you stop here (Billy) and then your precious time is available to waste somewhere else.

~ Dr Seuss - "The Cat In the Hat" started it all. Actually, "The Little Engine that Could" started it, but I only memorized it by making my parents read it to me night after night. "Cat in the Hat" is the first book I remember that formed words in my mind with letters.

~ Victor Appeleton ll - The name is probably a fake. But whoever wrote the Tom Swift Jr books captured my imagination when I was maybe 7 or 8. This guy knew anything was possible and I believed him. I still have the whole series in the attic. Many months/years of allowances it took to build that collection.

~ Madeleine L'Engle Camp - I received her book "A Wrinkle in Time" under the Christmas tree at age 11. I think this was my first taste of top quality writing aimed at kids that treated us like we had brains. I wore that book out and the rest of the series.

~ Stephen W. Meader - Author of "young adult" books full of adventure in usually a historical context. My love of history and the sea might have started here.

~Willa Cather - Forced to read in school. The woman could capture the feel of a scene, a situation like no one I had ever read. I still re-read "My Antonia" on occasion.

~Jack London - Another author crammed down my throat in school I ended up being a fan of. "To Start a Fire" may be the best short story I ever read. And my favorite novel was "The Star Rover".

~Mark Twain - his folksy style and obvious deeper meanings without doing it in your face made me want to emulate his style. Sadly, there is only one Mark Twain.

~Harper Lee - "To Kill a Mockingbird" - When we lived In Tallahassee, Florida in 1962/63 I was in sixth grade. I was troubled by the sanctioned segregation I found everywhere. My mom handed me this book and told me to read it. Need I say more?

~J.D. Salinger - "Catcher in the Rye" had a profound effect on me. I identified with Holden Caulfield in a big way. A kind of one bonehead to another thing going on there.

~James Michener - "The Fires of Spring" was another coming of age novel and his first I read at just the right time of my life. I knew I would never have the nose to the grindstone ethic he had, but I admired him immensely for his.

~John Steinbeck - Just a damn good novelist. I would finish "East of Eden" or "Tortilla Flat" and just imagine being able to write like that.

~Robert Heinlein - I began reading him along with Tom Swift Jr. His anything was possible sci/fi and political commentary wrapped into his stories maybe helped me to open my mind to more than just Life is living on a quiet shade covered street.

~Isaac Asimov - put some reality into sci/fi that absolutely made me know anything was possible.

~Emily Dickinson - The only poet I have ever really liked. Brevity was her thing and she did it like no other. Lessons I would be well advised to use now.

~Harlan Ellison - his dark sci/fi opened up the idea that in the future, ugliness will also be part of it. "A Boy and His Dog" I consider the best post apocalyptic novel I have read.

~Edgar Rice Burroughs - another author I consumed at an alarming rate as a child. Tarzan was cool. But Pellucidar was cooler. Fantasy and sci/fi does not have to have a point.

~Ken Kesey - His novels put him in the same class as Steinbeck for me. Rich plots and well developed characters that interacted in a real way.

~Dalton Trumbo - "Johnny Got His Gun" Put the finishing touch on my growing hatred of war. Brought me out of the John Wayne "war is noble" mentality. War is never noble. Many of the people who fight in wars do noble things, but war is ugly and evil. It should never be entered into lightly.

~ Anthony Burgess - He probably wrote my single most favorite novel, "A Clockwork Orange". He showed me good writing does not have to make the reader comfortable, it just has to engage them.

~Kurt Vonnegut - His fiction were messages tied up into well told and interesting plots and characters.

~JR Tolkien - Well written stories can have hidden meanings that only become obvious once you get to the end. I read the trilogy as a teenager the first time. His attention to detail rivals Michener's.

~Barbara Tuchman - "The Guns of August" was the first history book that was a a real page turner for me. History does not have to be dull. Her writing proved that.

~O'Henry - Just a clever guy. His stories are always entertaining. He caused me to fall in love with the short story.

~Thoreau - I had to read him him as an adult to appreciate what he was really saying. Helped me to package my own personal philosophy of life.

~Hunter S Thompson - His loose dog style reinforced my love of stream of consciousness writing.

~Joseph Conrad - Forced to Read "Lord Jim" in school, I became a fan. "Heart of Darkness" sealed the deal. I guess my notion of no one is completely perfect or good all the time was helped along by reading him.

With a few notable exceptions, the writers who have affected me and probably affected my writing the most are almost all Americans. I am not sure what to make of this. I do find it difficult to pin down how each has influenced how or what I write about. But I am sure they have. The one constant throughout is I seek to write as well as they did, be as imaginative as they were, and find my own voice like they did. If I succeed even a little in any of the three, I will be paying them the honor I feel they deserve.

So there it is. I thought at first I would have some trouble coming up with twenty five. Now I wish I could add some. But rules are rules.

I would normally follow through with tagging some other people. But having been rejected by several on my last attempt, I will do the easy thing, the classic cop out, and just say if you would like to play, please do. This was a fun one. This one made me think. I even took it seriously. Imagine that.

Keep it 'tween the Ditches

(1372 / 1743)


Demeur said...

Looks like you've done all my homework here so don't bother tagging me. I would add Heller (Catch 22) and Arthur C. Clarke (2001 and many other great Sci fi).

Dawn on MDI said...

Very nice collection! Your list included several that I would have included had my brain not frozen up. It felt a lot like a quiz...

very very cool.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

Geez, that was a good post, guess cause the majority of the authors and books referenced in it are ones that I too have read and enjoyed. I doubt I could explain their impact on my own life and philosophy as distinctly as you have done, my vocabulary and inability to turn a proper phrase limit me in that way. I am curious as to how you mangaged to acquire all the great book cover illustrations?

Chef Cthulhu said...

Great list. Heinlein rocks. Like you, I find I listed a lot of Americans myself.

BBC said...

It's a good thing you mentioned Hunter Thompson, even though I haven't read much of his work I can relate to him.

I don't often do tags either and have never posted awards others have given me.

Dawn on MDI sounds a lot like me with all the skills we have, other than the fact that I'm positive my dick is there to stick in a woman.

It is a "25 authors who have influenced my writing"

I don't think of it that way because I never had the intention of writing anyway, especially a book.

My writing has just been something that seems to have been forced on me, something I'm driven to do when I would rather be doing other things.

It was the same with Einstein, I don't recall that he ever wrote a book and I think it would be damn arrogant of me to think I could write one.

Authors have influenced me of course and I suppose it shows in the things I write and post.

But to put 25 names in concrete, forget that, the next one to influence me I may not have read yet.

James Michener was a favorite though. Richard Bach until he went goofy on us.

Betty Crocker (actually her name was Marjorie Child Husted, Betty Crocker is just a name Washburn Crosby Company made up)has always been a favorite read, but Martha Stewart can suck my dick, ha ha ha.

MRMacrum said...

Demeur - Yes, I could have used up all 25 in the Sci/Fi genre. I actually think once I got on the roll, I could have had the list to 50 plus pretty quick over all the authors I enjoyed and had an effect on me.

Dawn on MDI - As soon as I finished, I thought, Oh,what about.... or maybe ..... But I did not re-do. The list had the big ones for me. And it was a quiz.

Old Dude - Your style is your style. Just work your style. Your writing has improved in my opinion over the time I have been reading your blog. It is not likely any of us are the next Stephen King or Dostovesky, but writing regularly, we all seem to improve.

Finding Images - I got the covers of Tom Swift by googling "Tom Swift, images" and hitting the images link once the google page came up. Use the the comma to seperate or filter the search some.

Chef - Another name change? Should I start getting nervous? Yes, Heinlein does rock.

BBC - What can I say? Apparently not much. You have no desire to write a book. Thats fine. I would like to someday. It's like why not? It doesn't have to be published, I'd just like to put one effort together to check one more thing off that bucket list.

PipeTobacco said...


Although circumstances lead to my not answering the one tag you sent my way (a rough spell), I think I shall work up a list for this one. I will let you know when I have it up on my own site.

Thank you for your thoughtful essays.


Randal Graves said...

Well hell, ignore my tag on this! There are a lot of folks on here that I don't write anything like, but I certainly dig.