Friday, March 27, 2009

A List of Influences

Davin was tagged to list the 25 writers who have been most influential to him, and he has invited everyone else to play. I'm posting this list as a comment on his blog, but I'm also putting it here because I've been slackerly about posting and this looks like an easy way to fill up a post.

In no particular order I present:

1. Aesop (first stories I read)
2. Leo Tolstoy ("War and Peace" was the first real novel I ever read)
3. Ernest Hemingway (for his clarity of prose)
4. Hans Christian Anderson (early influence, filled with sadness and longing)
5. Antonia Susan Byatt (for richness of language and symbolism of food)
6. Franz Kafka (for Gregor Samsa and the absurdity of life)
7. Gabriel Garcia Marquez (for the beauty of magical realism)
8. Gunter Grass (for showing me that history is personal history)
9. William Shakespeare (no explanation necessary)
10. John Milton (for being brave and assertive and mighty)
11. Umberto Eco (for erudition and human comedy)
12. Flannery O'Connor (for clarity of prose and vision)
13. Fyodor Dostoyevsky (for richness of character and human comedy)
14. Ivan Turgenev (for foreground/background connectedness and character)
15. William Faulkner (for being brave and looking inward)
16. J.D. Salinger (for loving his characters)
17. Mikhail Bulgakov (for "The Master and Margarita" and a large black cat)
18. Nikolai Gogol (for absurdity and symbolism)
19. Vladimir Nabokov (for creativity of form and love of wordplay)
20. Anton Chekhov (for character and a gun in the first act)
21. James Joyce (for "The Dead" and "Ulysses" and being bold)
22. John Cheever (for the miraculousness of the ordinary)
23. Harlan Ellison (for "A writer writes. Every day.")
24. Isaac Asimov (for "Nightfall," for writing a lot, and making me want to write a lot)
25. Ray Bradbury (for showing me at a young age just how weird the universe really was)

Very likely I am forgetting the authors who have most influenced me because the influence goes so deep that I am not even aware of it.


  1. I'll let you slide by for now, slacker, but someday I want to read a real man's post.

  2. Tara,

    Lists like this are things I never trust, even if I write them. Is there someone I'm ashamed to admit I read a lot (like, for example, Edgar Rice Burroughs), or someone that I simply want to name check to look smarter than I am? It's hard to tell if these writers, all of whom I admire, have actually had an influence on my own work. This list is just a guess, you know? Anyway, where's yours?


    My next post will be titled "Sex and Violence: a Real Man's Post." Just wait. You'll see.

  3. Ha ha. Scott, you're cool.

    On a more serious note, it's good to see you don't trust yourself to make an accurate list. I'm apt to trust a man with insight.

  4. Ha, no explanation for Shakespeare. I agree! Not needed. What a great list. I need to make mine up, although it might take me quite a awhile. Thank you for sharing.

    Can't wait for that Sex and Violence post!

  5. One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of my favorite books. I wrote about it on my Masters Comps. We have a lot of favorite authors in common. I'm not a big Faulkner fan, but I like Absalom, Absalom.

  6. Scott, You say Hans Christian Anderson was an early influence and that his work is filled with sadness and longing. Were you drawn to those emotions as a young person?

  7. Davin,

    I don't really know. It's been a LONG time since I was a young person. I remember Anderson's tales and "The Seagull" by Chekhov both making me sad, but I can't say I was drawn to tales of sadness and longing. I also read a great lot of crap (the "Doc Savage" adventures, written in the 30s and 40s, were on the shelves of my school library, and I read maybe 50 of those). Did I read Anderson because I was sad, or was I sad because I read Anderson?