By conventional standards, I’m not very literary. Never read a mote of Fitzgerald or Joyce. Can’t stand Hemingway. For contemporary writers, I’ve even tried getting into Franzen, DeLillo and whomever else The New Yorker sees fit to anoint this week. Too dull by far. Forget about Nobel prizewinners.
I’m drawn to a kind of storytelling if it plays in my mind cinematically, which is probably why I’m quite a slow reader. I prefer to savor writing that paints a vivid picture of image, sound and action, rereading them the way an editor will view cuts. Or those of epic sweep, offering up a complete universe, not imprisoned in an author’s solipsistic brain. Inner monologues or overly descriptive passages makes my eyes gloss over.
These books—mostly novels, all of them fiction—have consistently tapped that wonderful part of the brain that makes reading a sublime joy. These have exerted a powerful influence on me, whether reaffirming deeply-held believes or demonstrating the miracles that can be created when putting pen to paper.
- The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
- Catch-22, Joseph Heller
- The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
- Dune, Frank Herbert
- Radix, A.A. Attanasio
- I, Claudius and Claudius the God, Robert Graves
- Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut
- 1984, George Orwell
- Skinny Legs and All, Tom Robbins
- The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum
Your page turners?