Monday, May 09, 2011

120 Influences, Part 2: Novelists

  1. William Faulkner – Just a read of the Collected and Uncollected short stories of this favorite son of Mississippi should be enough to prove why Faulkner won the Nobel Prize.
  2. Ernest Hemingway – Despite all the criticism, he has received from revisionists, feminists, and critical theorists, Hemingway remains the master of the declarative sentence. Read his Complete Short Stories.
  3. Hermann Hesse – Hesse taught me the mystical possibilities of the novel through Damien, Siddhartha and Steppenwolf.
  4. Nikos Kazantzakis – The Cretan’s work and beliefs caused his excommunication from the Greek Orthodox Church. Any of his works will do as a starting point, but The Fratricides is my favorite, but read any of his books for a singular Greek flavor with universal themes, including Freedom and Death, The Greek Passion, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Zorba the Greek, among others.
  5. D. H. Lawrence – An English novelist of sensuality, spirituality, and physicality, as evidenced in Lady Chatterley’s Lovers and Sons and Lovers.
  6. Henry Roth – Sure this literary genius had a 45-year case of writer’s block, but Call It Sleep, written when Roth was 27, is a masterpiece. Enough said.
  7. J. D. SalingerCatcher in the Rye, which I read in the eleventh grade, has had an enduring effect on me and most people who have read it, at least in the first 40 years since its publication in 1951. Also check out Salinger’s Nine Stories.
  8. John Steinbeck – He could describe people emerging from the Californian landscape as if they were one with the natural world. His narrative and characters in Tortilla Flat, Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, and East of Eden are unforgettable.
  9. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. – His quirky blend of psychology, science fiction, and pop culture has enormous appeal with young readers. Player Piano, The Sirens of Titan, Mother Night, Cat’s Cradle, and Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade are good starting points.
  10. Richard WrightNative Son. Fear. Fate. Flight. Enough said. The great American novel.