Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Author! Author!

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 thievery originality?


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."

Certainly not.

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.


Übermilf said...

You are my only influence, my lord and master.

Liberality said...

I too only like King's old stuff. Once he got famous and got a computer, forget it.

Tom Harper said...

Flaubert -- another one of them French inteelektual authors I've never read. Someday I'll get around to it...

Dr. Zaius said...

What about Lewis Carroll or Beatrix Potter? Don't you like rabbits?

Dusty said...

HP Lovecraft rules!!!

And so do you Randal. :)

susan said...

I've copied it out and tucked it away in a back pocket of my purse in order that I may have access to one of the most exotic reading lists I've ever seen. You never know when you're going to need one or know either that you'd be entertained to learn Baudelaire was Poe's translator.

Tengrain said...

Graves, you swine!

You ignored perhaps your own greatest muse and his epic Address to Shakespear. Yes, I speak of McGonagall.



Utah Savage said...

You're on. My list will not be in the chronology of the writer's era, but when and at what age I read them. The Brontes at 15. Flaubert over and over. For a Fancophone, you left off some good ones--how about LeDuc? "Le Batard" Celine? "Death on the Installment Plan" I'm in the middle of something, but I'm going to start making some notes. This list is very telling you crazy fuck.

Beach Bum said...

This will be fun, but I freely admit most of your list was way over this Southern boy's head. But I promise my list won't have anything by Tom Clancy or anything like him.

S.W. Anderson said...

Randal, I'm shocked, shocked!

You actually failed to include the great Harvey Kurtzman.

You evidently blew right by up-and-comer Garrison Spik.

OK, those are understandable. But omitting the immortal Anonymous? That's inexcusable.

Randal Graves said...

übermilf, hmm, I'm thinking I might like this kingship deal.

tom, don't waste your time with the frogs. There's never a good anti-terrorism superhero plot.

dr.zaius, sure, in a stew.

dusty, that he does! You ever make you way here, I'll show you our copy of the Necronomicon.

susan, I think it's just an old list more than anything. I will give points to the modern world for their better sanitation systems, though. And that Mr. Baudelaire was!

tengrain, holee shite, verily I canot belieeve I hath left suche a metricall master offe mine liste!

utah, hmm, I think your way might have been a bit better, see the evolution.

And I had to get some limeys in there, too. I was already too much a rebel for listing one above the iron-clad rule. I'm not crazy, dammit.

BB, no Clancy? Isn't that grounds for being thrown out of your state?

SWA, if you held a gun to my head and told me to write satire, after you read it, you'd pull the trigger.

On second thought, I think I could win that contest with some of the bloated shit I write.

Lisa said...

You know, I paid good money earned by working at Radio Shack, Cutlery World and The Pink Pony to be tortured in school reading the likes of Baudelaire, Proust, Zola, and a bunch of other Frenchy stuff that has since been crowded or beaten out of my memory banks from dull, monotonous office drone work and parenthood. (Don't get me started on what hausfrauing does to the little gray cells).

Please. Get back to me when you're ready to discuss Harlequin Romances, Danielle Steele, Dick and Jane, coloring books and the occasional masturbation scene in a your favorite Philip Roth book.

Thank you.

MRMacrum said...

Your list was quite interesting. Certainly much different than my less than cerebral choices. But several stood out as ones I should have considered as they did influence me. Good or bad.

WIlliam Blake often pops into my mind through memory reviews of his art and his poems. "A God in anger was killing a man" is still the one line I remember that tipped my teetering soul from religion into the chaotic world of the unsaved. I don't like angry Gods.

Border Explorer said...

I side, of course, with Übermilf.

Randal Graves said...

lisa, see, this is why I try to avoid my kids at all cost. I don't want to lose that literary goodness.

What about a Dick and Jane masturbation coloring book? And we can do variants, Dick and Dick, Jane and Jane, Dick, Dick and Jane, Dick and Dominatrix, Jane and Sybian. Big sellers, lemme tell ya.

mrmacrum, I thought you typed unshaved. After reading your post the other day, I think the god of the cyclists must be one angry dude.

BE, I feel like I have a harem. Now I just need to hire someone to wave a big leaf.

Dr. Zaius said...

Ack! You're a bad bunny!

Chef Cthulhu said...

Late in responding - great list. But as a non-francophile I have no idea who half of them are...which is good cuz no w I have something to look into...