Thursday, 4 October 2007

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen writers I adore:

Someone described his work as "philosophy lite". Call it what you will, his books captivated me decades ago, and his adventures in living his beliefs have helped to form - or at least validate - some of my own beliefs.

I was fascinated by the legend of this Indian writer who submitted the manuscript for The God of Small Things to a London agent who, not long after, found himself on a plane to India, contract and six-figure advance in hand. When I read the book I understood. It's the writing.

I read My Family and Other Animals when I was a child, and I was hooked for life. Durrell's accounts of his childhood in Greece, along with his adventures as an animal collector, zookeeper and conservationist, not only provided me with innumerable hours of high entertainment but also contributed to my development as a naturalist - and writer.

During my stays in Florida the highpoint of my weekend was buying the Miami Herald and reading Barry's column. The quintessential humorist and satirist, Barry is unsurpassed, imho, at exposing the hysterical insanities in everyday life.

During a short teaching stint earlier this year, I met a fifteen year old boy who shared my passion for The Bard. I wanted to hug him. When I left, he hugged me. After all, how often do you meet someone else who gets goosebumps every me s/he reads:
Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry "Hold, hold!"

I've lost count of the number of times I've read To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee captures the essence of childhood while at the same time exploring very adult themes and telling a damned good story.

I read Life of Pi last year and could not put down this improbable tale of a boy and a tiger. Why? Martel weaves magic with his words and his wisdom, holds you in absolute thrall from cover to cover. I think I want to marry him.

Her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the story of her childhood and it goes straight to the heart. It made me cry, rage, and laugh out loud. No one who has read this book will ever forget "Preach it, I say!" A marvelous storyteller.

What's funny about a housewife living in the suburbs, battling with spouse, spawn, cooking, laundry, crab grass, weight gain and her own expectations of domestic bliss? Ask Erma. If you're a wife and mother who's about to lose her sanity, forget Xanax. Erma is the remedy.

I've read her children's books, her young adult books, her adult books, and loved every one, from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to Forever to Wifey... Whatever the genre, Blume delivers.

After reading A Walk in the Woods I knew I had to get my hands on his other books. Bryson combines several of my reading fetishes: humour, the natural world, travel, and social satire. A winning combination.

I was young and impressionable when I read Fear of Flying. I found it decadent and shocking. I was older when I read How To Save Your Own Life. I found it decadent and shocking, yes, but also delicious and empowering with its siren call to Live! Love! Cast away the dross!

Here is another writer who speaks to the things I hold dear: conservation of the natural world, solitude, rejection of worldly values, the beauty and mystery of existence in all its manifestations. My tattered copy of Desert Solitaire is one of my prized possessions.


Lane said...

You've got some of my all time favourite authors on your list Liane. The ones I'm not familiar with are going straight on my To Be Read list:-)

aka_lol said...

I heard Dave Barry speak live only last year and he was amazing.

KeVin K. said...

Bill Bryson is one of the best descriptive writers on the planet. I learned a lot about making the setting a living part of the story from reading his books. (Too bad he hates my south;he does a marvelous job of highlighting everything wrong with it).

aka_lol said...

RICHARD BACH - I am sure I read his book about a seagull and I am almost sure I have a copy somewhere.

ARUNDHATI ROY - Her books keep popping up on Amazon and it must be my browsing patterns. I will read her soon since Amazon knows me best.

GERALD DURRELL - Sounds like someone I would read and thanks for the recommendation. I think I also want to be a naturalist, naturally.

DAVE BARRY - Funniest columnist since, or probably before, Kevin Baldeosingh.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE - Isn't he a bit too old to be writing still? The play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King

HARPER LEE - I like his movies...or was that Spike. To Kill a Mockingbird is one book I am glad I was force fed in school.

YANN MARTEL - The problem with Yann Martel is that he is keeping fans waiting too long for his next book.

MAYA ANGELOU - She speaks as well as she writes and everything sounds profound, but yet simple. She is the opposite of "philosophy lite".

ERMA BOMBECK - Not only for those who breast fed a child. She proved that you can find humor in everything including motherhood and life.

JUDY BLUME - Again, on my Books to read before I die by strange causes. Thanks.

BILL BRYSON - Yes, I must read. Must borrow soon.

ERICA JONG - I am staring at a copy of Fear of Flying and have no Idea where I got it. It (the book) used to be considered the forerunner to porn on the Internet and it liberated as many people.

EDWARD ABBEY - I think I will read Desert Solitaire and take my camera with me.

wordtryst said...

Lane, that's one of the things I love about mingling with writers online: all those book suggestions. My own wish list is growing at an alarming rate.

aka_lol, you heard Barry speak live?!? Aarrgh. I'm so jealous. OMG! Another Kevin Baldeosingh fan! I LOVE his columns... from way back when he used to write Twisted Tables for the Guardian, to his days with The Independent, and wherever he bounces to. I also like BC Pires, although he pi**es me off sometimes. But Kevin is THE MAN! Oh, Jong as porn? Porn has come a long way since then, hasn't it.

Kevin, he does hate the south, doesn't he? I remember almost verbatim his comments re the genetically challenged mountain men called Festus and Zeke in Woods.

aka_lol said...

KB is amazing with his logic and wit, and I don't think he has an equal in that respect. Did you check out his political dictionary last Friday? :))

I also like his old stuff. Good "Old" Stuff

BC is another writer who I never miss and he can be very creative most times.

Maybe Jong can be classified as erotica in words that need no pictures :) There is nothing like writing it right.

wordtryst said...

aka_lol, no, I didn't. Don't buy papers regularly anymore. Thanks so much for that link; I'm going to have a great time reading. Yeah, BC's good. As for Jong - well, I prefer words to pictures anyway. Unlike you guys...