Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Writers That Made a Difference

Just saw this meme on Murderati , and decided to do my list of 25 writers who've blown my mind:

1. Judy Blume - periods, premarital sex, Jewish girls?! Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, Forever and Wifey changed my literary life.

2. V.C. Andrews - creepy settings and situations between siblings and diabolical aunts. Flowers in the Attic was my first but not the last. I still have my paperback from my teenage years.

3. Jackie Collins - fabulousness and sex and Los Angeles and gangsters. Lucky Santeangelo was a pretty badazz heroine. Lucky and Lady Boss were my faves. But then there were Hollywood Wives and Hollywood Husbands. Didn't know about cocaine until I read these pieces of candy.

4. Toni Morrison - between the anguish of a slave mother in Beloved and a confused little Black girl in The Bluest Eye, and the sassiness of Sula, Ms. Morrison was the first to show me that 'we' had something to say.

5. Stephen King - don't even know where to begin with King. It? The Stand? The Shining? Carrie? Pet Sematary? Pennywhistle scared the bejeebus out of me, but Mother Abigail offered hope. Cujo made me - to this day - look at dogs twice and prepped to run at a moment's notice. I had a cat that I loved but would I want her to come back from the grave? Unforgettable characters, great writing.

6. Michael Crichton - he's my lesser King but still: Juraissic Park, Sphere, The Andromeda Strain. He made me interested in science. Oh, and E.R. - his creation - gave me George Clooney.

7. John Krakauer - how can something be true and incredibly fascinating? I've read Into Thin Air about three times, and got totally lost in Under the Banner of Heaven and Into the Wild.

8. Fyodor Dostoevsky - my first Russian-lit love. So different than America. I remember being obnoxious after reading Crime and Punishment, and then The Brothers Karamazov. Even if I didn't get all the subtext.

9. Franz Kafka - German bougeoisie and giant bugs. Being on trial and not knowing why. America became like a Kafka story in some ways. The Castle and the short story "Metamorphosis" are must reads.

10. Terry McMillan - there are such creatures as Black contemporary women with problems? Waiting to Exhale - even if it wasn't my direct experience - validated my existence, and also told me that I didn't have to write about the South and slavery.

11. Alice Walker - not that the South and slavery are bad, or done with, or solved. The Color Purple... someone other than Celie actually wrote that?

12. Beverly Cleary - my first book purchases were books in the Ramona series. The book fair would come to town, and I'd clutch my $10 and go to the library. Ramona was awesome.

13. William Shakespeare - of course, right?

14. F. Scott Fitzgerald - rich white folks got some problems, y'all. The Great Gatsby and The Last Tycoon gave me glimpses into the lives of people I'll never meet.

15. Harper Lee - books can entertain and have a message? To Kill a Mockingbird told me that they could.

16. Tom Wolfe - Bonfire of the Vanities, Man in Full and The Right Stuff were big, bodacious books with great characters and awesome humor.

17. Richard Wright - being black in America... wow, The Invisible Man.

18. Anne Rice - felt so wrong reading about sexy vampires like Lestat, but damn entertaining. Interview with a Vampire. I still don't see Tom Cruise as Lestat.

19. Tom Clancy - Before I found the flaming liberal in me, I consumed his books like water. Big, strong military men with square jaws, a love of country, and big... guns? That's what girls like...

20. H.G. Wells - and it can happen again... His science fiction is timeless. Just read War of the Worlds again and it's incredible. Guess why they keep making movies from it.

21. Herman Melville - Moby Dick was great but I enjoyed his short stories even more. "Bartleby the Scrivener" can be read today and you wouldn't know it was written more than 100 years ago.

22. D.H. Lawrence - as close to Jane Austen as I could get. Lady Chatterly's Lover and Sons and Lovers - something like broccoli with caramel sprinkled atop of it. You feel righteous for reading it, but you know, in its own 1920's English kind of way, that it's a bit naughty.

23. Gabriel Garcia Marquez - what sentences! what paragraphs! what romance! One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera.

24. Cormac McCarthy - man, oh, man. The Road jacked me up - now that I have a daughter, I couldn't imagine... And No Country for Old Men was just great story-telling with unforgettable characters.

25. Dan Brown - don't laugh. I'm serious. Mr. Brown did something many have tried to do. Make religion a breathless subject. I read The Da Vinci Code in two days, and Angels and Demons in three. Addicted, I read all the rest: Digital Fortress and Deception Point.

What books made you say, "Damn, that was good"?


  1. Hey There, Great list, dig reading it...but I think 'Invisible Man' is by Ralph Ellison, not Richard Wright, think he did 'Black Boy' and 'Native Son'

  2. You are correct, Marq. Got my Richards and Ralphs mixed up... And forgive me for just responding now.