Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ten Most Influential Books

Patti Abbott called this "George's Meme" (as in George Kelley) and that seems like a pretty swell name to me. I'm listing these in the order I encountered them, because determining the order of importance is a brainbuster.

The Iliad of  Homer. At age ten, I discovered there was more blood, guts and magic in the school library than my teachers wanted me to know.

The Man of Bronze by Kenneth Robeson (Lester Dent). My introduction to the pulps, though I hardly realized it at the time. All I knew was this guy wrote with a style and attitude that started creeping into my schoolwork.

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake. This book seemed to unlock the mysteries of interpreting English literature, or at least gave me enough insight to fool my college professors.

Conan the Barbarian #1
by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith. My first brush with Robert E. Howard, who consumed my attention for several years. One of several authors who made me (and still make me) want to write.

Roughing It by Mark Twain. Proof that Samuel Clemens is God.

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Who knew a writer could be such a smart ass and get away with it? An inspiration to us all. I used to carry a loaner copy in my the trunk of my car at all times.

The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. These stories flowed though me so smoothly I felt I was writing them myself. Still can’t read Doyle without falling into that pattern of thought.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. My first hardboiled novel. The beginning of a mania (almost a lifestyle), now in its second coming.

The Godwulf Manscript
by Robert B. Parker. The beginning of a long acquaintance with my favorite writer and favorite fictional character, that will not end until I do.

David Crockett, the Man and the Legend by James Atkins Shackford. My first serious look at the life of old Davy and what really went on at the Alamo. Obviously, I’m still hooked.


David Cranmer said...

Interesting, your take on Doyle because I have a similar feeling("pattern of thought") that I don't really get with any other writer, with the possible exception of Chandler.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Vonnegut! How could I forget him.

I.J. Parnham said...

I'll never forget Vonnegut, but I wish I could forget BoC. Somehow I just didn't get that book.

James Reasoner said...

I came really close to including METEOR MENACE, the first Doc Savage book I read, on my list. That was my intro to the pulps, as THE MAN OF BRONZE was yours. Although I had read some Max Brand before that, I didn't have any idea the novels had been serialized in the pulps first.

Evan Lewis said...

Breakfast of Champions spoiled me, Ian. I thought it was so perfect that the rest of Vonnegut's work was a disappointment.

I think I was reading Tarzan before Doc Savage, James, but he seemed much farther removed from the pulps.

Randy Johnson said...

I considered a Savage for my list. Though I'd heard of The Shadow("Who knows what evil lurks.." and all that), I had no previous knowledge of the pulp magazines.

George said...

Modesty forces me to admit that Tyler Cowen came up with this meme, but it's nice that Patti gave me credit. Love your list! I admire Vonnegut's MOTHER NIGHT. A lot!

Laurie Powers said...

I'm with you on Vonnegut.

Cap'n Bob said...

Homer and Blake? I didn't realize you had such lofty tastes. I thought you were more of a Homer and Jethro type.

Evan Lewis said...

That's who I meant. Did I say Blake?

Richard Prosch said...

Bokonon compels me to list CAT'S CRADLE as my favorite Vonnegut, though BOC is a strong second.