Now that is a moustache.
The Great and Powerful Cthulhu's personal chef has served up a tag chock full of squiggly, deep sea goodness that is broiled to nourish and have me vomit forth twenty-five authors that have influenced my writing. Influences? Moi? The very archetype of
Shit, no one believed me. Back to the black magic drawing board. Sigh. Anyway, there are other authors not listed below that I dig, Dashiell Hammett to name check one, but whose styles I generally don't pilfer consciously or subconsciously, mainly because I'm even worse at those than in the styles I do pilfer. En plus, I'm limited to twenty-five but even things we've read that we don't particularly care for are going to be added to the invisible palimpsest by our brain, independent of our noggin.
"That's right, muahahahahahaha!"
Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we sit down to read.
1. For example, Ovid, yes, Virgil or Homer, no. I couldn't write epic shit to save your life -- bloated and long-winded is a different matter entirely -- but I can always get my Amores and Heroides all hot and bothered.
"Metamorphoses is epic."
Stop being technical.
2. Perhaps you see Chrétien de Troyes as an odd choice, given the, well, epic, quality of his stuff, but c'mon, knights in shining armor, damsels not always in distress but better suited -- get it, armor, suit, bwahahahahaha -- to non-dumbassery than the Intrepid Hero®? I have never written a story about a knight.
3. I recall when I first got into poetry decades ago and came across the phrase "Petrarchan sonnet." Who knew there was actually a dude named Petrarch, a dude who obsessed over the mysterious Laura. And, as we all know, there's nothing healthier for the mind and the soul than obsession.
4. Of course, after such fleshy shenanigans, we end up in a particular fiery circle of vast grotesquerie penned by one Mr. Dante.
No, the other one.
5. I'm going to cheat, as I often do, and say La Pléiade, the group of French Renaissance poets whose most famous members included Pierre de Ronsard and Joachim Du Bellay. I have occasionally borrowed an idea or three from them.
6. Sure, John Donne became a preacher, but even his Holy Sonnets have that dark, lugubrious air about them. Of course, his pre-überJesus days were full of that earthy, sonorous verse so worthy of admiration.
7. More diablerie on my part with the graveyard poets, Thomas Gray, Robert Blair and Thomas Warton amongst others. Sure, to the jaded, postmodern yokel, their stuff is hackneyed and cliché, but it's a suspension of disbelief, like a good Gothic horror novel. You either get it or you don't.
8. Speaking of novels not altogether Gothic, nor horror, but full of impact nonetheless, how about William Godwin and his ur-mystery Caleb Williams and the philosophical St. Leon. Oh, what the hell. Toss in Matthew Lewis' The Monk, as well. Now that's some fine, over-the-top evil.
9. Master engraver, poet and visionary, William Blake, like so many others here in relation to the crap I churn out, is more about atmosphere and sentiment. Sure, the words (and imagery) are influential, but it's the contemplation of what lies behind them, what pushed them out from the unseen ether of the creative mind onto the page.
10. Mad, bad and dangerous to know, Byron and the rest of the Romantic giants (the Shelleys, Keats, Coleridge, Wordsworth) are one of those 'duh' influences if you have even a passing interest in writing poetry. They're the Stones, Sabbath, Zeppelin all rolled into one (or at least six, in this case). Oh, can't forget about junior partner Beddoes, either.
11. Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther is histrionic (which probably explains why I like it more than most) and Faust is probably his best known work, but there are many more Romantic nuggets of nougat, peanut and caramel goodness.
12. Since we're on the theme of Romanticism in literature -- the more astute reader no doubt noticed that before my helpful hint -- how about the Brontë sisters and their various and wonderfully rich works.
13. Nature Boy John Clare, who went mad and spent his later years in an asylum, wrote some truly beautiful, real, stuff.
14. Like every Francophone writer, yes, even us unpublished types, but not you psycho disciples of Derrida who can go fuck themselves (deconstruct that), Victor Hugo is a giant of towering largeness, whether poetically or with fiction.
15. Edgar Allan Poe. Duh.
16. Charles Baudelaire. Duh, partie deux.
17. Gustave Flaubert. Duh, partie trois. You know, the further along I march with The Novel From Hell, the more I realize that L'education sentimentale is the most kindred spirit of all the great works to what I'm writing. Except the woman in my story isn't older. Now, if I can only make it 1/837th as good, I'll be happy.
18. Despite countless flights of internal fancy, I dig my stuff grounded in some gritty realism, and Emile Zola was the pontiff of such kingdoms.
19. From À rebours, the so-called Bible of the decadent movement, to the journey of Durtal from biographer of Gilles de Rais to Jesushead, the work of J. K. Huysmans is always lurking in the shadows.
20. Another one of those wacky, avant-garde froggy deviants, Octave Mirbeau gave us such prim and proper works as Diary of a Chambermaid and The Torture Garden, the latter of which is not about the secret US network of black sites.
21. Master of the short story and troubled soul Guy de Maupassant, one could say the French Poe, is a veritable tomb of ideas. Hey, what's with that canary?
22. Obscure American poet David Park Barnitz died quite young just past the turn of the century -- 19th to the 20th, if you were at all curious -- and left behind a great, decadent work of verse.
"Can't forget about Swinburne, either."
23. I wouldn't say I write anything like Kafka, and certainly not in his neighborhood of literary genius, but who cannot help but be influenced by such devilish, terrible, sad storytelling?
24. Marcel Proust. Perhaps the über-duh. I wish I had written In Search of Lost Time, but I see this bastard got to it first. No fair being born a century earlier, dude.
25. I wouldn't say I write anything like Tolkien, either, at least in a world-spanning, good vs. evil clash kind of way, but his robust style -- I think of the heady, ephemeral chapter that takes place in the Old Forest, for starters -- is a tapestry that'll always hang on my mind's wall.
26. H. P. Lovecraft. I've tried my hand many times at writing bleakly atmospheric horror like the master, and failed every time out, but that doesn't mean I can't steal a bit of that obscure juice to spice up my own somber stuff.
Yes, I'm well aware that's more than the allotted number. Take it up with Yog-Sothoth.
Yes, I'm also well aware that there's essentially zip post-World War Two. My parents always said I was an old soul, my kids think I'm simply old and my sometimes-better-half probably thinks my act is growing old. But I do like Stephen King. The old stuff. Thank you, thank you.
Utah, Beach Bum, MRMacrum, and anyone else who writes but that I forgot because I'm getting old.