Monday, June 19, 2006

What Book Inspired You?

In response to our Reading List post, an Anonymous reader asks...

Wouldn't it be interesting to go around and have everyone say what books made them want to do an MFA (or at least pursue writing in a serious way)?

So, to answer my own question:
"Evening," Susan Minot
"Motherless Brooklyn," Jonathan Lethem
"A Room With a View," E.M. Forster
"Dog of the Marriage," Amy Hempel


Anonymous said...

"dogwalker" by arthur bradford and "pastoralia" by george saunders.

Anonymous said...

definitely Wally Lamb's "I Know This Much Is True." Despite its being on Oprah's book list, it's an amazing novel. Those 800(ish) pages went by like a cool summer breeze! [hackneyed simile, but really, the book is awe-inspiring.]

RLN said...

Brecht et al's THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE, at Arena Stage, Washington DC, early 1990s.

Anonymous said...

"Despite its being on Oprah's book list, it's an amazing novel."

That's hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett!, obviously.

Anonymous said...

The Universal Baseball Association by Robert Coover
The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Anonymous said...

blood meridian. hands down. oddly, it made me homesick. and i took it as a challenge--a "Here's what I have. What've you got, amateur?"

Anonymous said...

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Anonymous said...

"The Boys of my Youth" by Jo Ann Beard

Anonymous said...

Maybe the book that made me most want to be a writer was "Jesus' Son" by Denis Johnson.

Books that stand out from before I tried writing (so high school reading):

Hemingway stories
Carver stories
Kafka stories
Borges stories
Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut
The Stranger, Camus
Invisible Man, Ellison
Shakespeare's tragedies
Sun also rises, hemingway

stuff I read since I started writing that inspires me:

Saunders stories
Barthelme stories
David Foster Wallace stories
Invitation to a Beheading, Nabokov
Lolita, Nabokov
Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Murakami
Baron in Trees, Invisible Cities, If on a winter's night - Calvino

BlueVelveeta said...

Satan Says, by Sharon Olds
Trilogy, by HD
The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni
Des Imagistes and...
The ABC of Reading, Ezra Pound

Anonymous said...

Raymond Carver, Mary Gaitskill and My teacher Ryan Harty's "Bring me You Saddest Arizona"

Anonymous said...

Where does Harty teach?

Anonymous said...

Harty will be the Zell Visiting Professor at Michigan starting this fall (I believe it's a three year appointment, but I'm not sure.)

My list:
Jesus' Son, Denis Johnson
The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, Aimee Bender
Flying Leap, Judy Budnitz

Anonymous said...

These are all late model entries! My list:


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!, Ian Fleming

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

Scarecrow of Oz, L. Frank Baum


The Stephen King ouevre


American Psycho, Ellis
Brightness Falls, McInerney
Broom of the System, David Foster Wallace
Rainbow Stories, William T. Vollmann
Catch-22, Joseph Heller


The Future Eve, Villers De L'Isle-Adam
Flying Leap, Judy Budnitz
Maldoror, Lautreamont
The Robert Coover ouvre

Anonymous said...

Harty used to teach at Stanford. I studied with him as an undergrad.

jaywalke said...

- Carver short stories
- Hemingway short stories
- everything by Jim Harrison, but especially "The Road Home"
- William Gibson

parklet said...

A Death in the Family (by James Agee)
Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (Mary McCarthy)
Self-Help and Birds of America (by Lorrie Moore)

Anonymous said...

The book that inspired me to write above all others is one that seems to polarize people: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

Jesus' Son
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
House of Leaves

MasterScribe said...

Hey, jaywalke, you're reading some William Gibson. That's cool.

Anyone who wishes to trim their prose should read Gibson. That guy can cover more ground with one sentence than any writer I've ever read.

davincisdiva said...

"The Passion" Jeanette Winterson
"Foucault's Pendulum" Umberto Eco
"Remembrance of Things Past" Marcel Proust
"Crow" Ted Hughes