>I hope you didn’t miss The Big News that came out this past Wednesday. The world will absolutely be a better place because of it.
I’ve been lame about updating this thing lately. I was out of town all last week and feeling under the weather, so when I wasn’t working I was pretty much vegetating. I was counting on band practice not happening tonight to get all caught up, but it looks like <gasp!> practice is actually going to happen after all.
So as a stopgap, since I exerted a ton of brain power thinking this up, I am going to post a list of books that I’ve loved over the years, per the email to The 406 Writers’ Workshop I’ve been attending (and really digging — one of the best creative things I’ve ever been part of) over the last 7 weeks.
From: Chris La Tray Subject: Re: Favorite Books To: “Mike Emmons”, “Lydia Brown”, “C. Tran”, “Michael A. FitzGerald”, “Brian Buckbee”, “joy morris” Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009, 12:02 PM
This was actually very hard, because I really haven’t read much fiction over the last 10 years or so. So my list is a combination of stuff I have read in the last couple years, plus some of what I consider “classics” based on my own experience.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (hilarious, charming, and a post-suicide Pulitzer winner)
A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor (great, dark stories with not-necessarily happy endings)
The Terror by Dan Simmons (just read this last year and loved it; a combination of historical fiction and horror, it is about the ill-fated expedition to the arctic led by Sir John Franklin that no one really knows for sure what happened — 2 ships full of men in 1845 set out and are basically never heard from again. Simmons takes the idea and knocks it out of the park, weaving what is known with stuff he made up. I really loved it)
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (not a novel, but one of my all time favorite books. Thoreau’s language can be pretty dense, but the thoughts he puts down on the page bring me back time and again)
The Falcon by John Tanner (this is Tanner’s autobiography of his time living as an adopted Ojibwa in the early 1800s; the portrait of the life he paints is both beautiful and just brutally harsh)
The Call of the Wild by Jack London (it’s been an age since I read this, but as a kid I loved it; I’ve been meaning to revisit Jack London and have The Sea Wolf in my current queue)
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard (I was torn between listing this and The Lord of the Rings; I chose Conan/REH because he probably was a bigger influence; let’s just say I’d rather trod the earth beneath my sandalled feet than sit in a tree all elf-like wanking on a harp. Anyway, I think REH was brilliant, and it is tragedy that he committed suicide at the age of 30 because who knows how great he’d have become. This is a newish edition, collected to celebrate his 75 year anniversary — it collects not only his Conan stories in the order he published them in the great pulp magazines of the early 30s, but also shows early drafts, letters between he and his contemporary, H.P. Lovecraft, etc. Many other authors have written Conan as part of the estate’s license, or written stories to fill in the time spaces between stories, but none of them touch Howard’s writing. His is dark, creepy, and just electric. I will be reading and re-reading Howard’s work for the rest of my life; I don’t know how many other writers I can say that about)
Dune by Frank Herbert (a classic of science fiction that I think everyone should read. Magnificent.)
On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin. He’s probably better known for his nonfiction, travel-type stuff (On Patagonia is awesome) but I really loved this book. I wonder what I would think if I read it now, but at the time it had a pretty strong impact on me.
I chose two graphic novels for my list as well.
Watchmen by Alan Moore (yeah it has been hyped because of the movie that just came out, but the book is so far beyond the movie that it needs to be read. Moore touches on so many levels here — emotional, political, societal — that anyone who smugly dismisses it as “just a comic book” should have their head examined)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (if I had to recommend one or the other, as good as Watchmen is I think this one is better. It is set in the future, Batman has disappeared and Superman has become an agent of the state. Society has crumbled, and an aged Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement to make a few changes. This book is dark and just flatout awesome. Miller raised the bar for graphic storytelling with this one, and its effects have been felt ever since. If words like “Batman” and “Superman” make you chuckle, then you really need to check this out — this is great stuff)
Sid gave me a great Father’s Day gift. Double vinyl picture disc. You know you’re jealous.