Recently I was tagged on one of those facebook memes. This was the “Name 15 authors who have influenced you but do it in 15 minutes” one…Something like that.
It was harder than I thought it would be. I really thought I’d rip it off like nothing. But I couldn’t come up with fifteen authors…I did eventually, but then I started second guessing myself. Did these people really form my sense of self. And then I decided I was over thinking it all and posted it. And then I realized that I had left some out. And then I also realized that it didn’t really matter.
This is what I said:
The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen writers who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.
1. William Shakespeare
2. Allen Ginsberg
3. Douglas Adams
4. Terry Pratchett
5. Jane Austen
6. China Mieville
7. John Donne
8. Edith Wharton
9. Nancy Mitford
10. M.F.K. Fisher
11. Geoffrey Chaucer
12. Roddy Doyle
13. Russell Hoban (specifically, the Francis stories0
14. F. Scott Fitzgerald
15. A.A. Milne
Special Mention: Neal Stephenson, Douglas Coupland, David Berman…
Also possibly Eoin Colfer.
But I wanted to say so much more about it. But I am a nerd that way.
Looking at the list now, I realize that the one thing that ties them all together in my mind is a sense of humor. They aren’t all humor writers, but they all….”get it.” I have long said that my favorite thing about Jane Austen is how damn funny she is. That hasn’t won me any points with the Janeites. But I am realizing that a sense of humor in writing, no matter how subtle, really makes it…click…for me.
But…wait…Edith Wharton…not so funny, but kind of big on the irony. We’ll let her stay.
And then there are those special mentions…all because of the way they twist the language to their needs. In fact, there are several Stephenson and Coupland books I don’t care for. But the ones I do like did make THAT BIG an impression. And lingering in the back is Eoin Colfer. Why? Because the last book I read by him really had people using technology in a natural way. Kids texting and IMing. Not necessarily to further the plot, but just because that’s what we do.
As for the famous fifteen…I can’t imagine my life without any of them. Some are newer finds, like Nancy Mitford. And some are authors who seem to become more important to me as I get older, like F. Scott…and oddly, Terry Pratchett. And do you remember how subversive A.A. Milne really is? How he’s really got that odd sense of humor that only some kids will appreciate? Go read it again.
I wish I could say that I unreserveredly recommnend these authors, but I don’t . You might not like them and that would make me sad. But if you like funny stuff that isn’t always funny…
So...time to comment. Name me one book that changed your life. Better or worse. I'm gonna say....Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy because it made me understand that I didn't have to be so serious about religion and science.