Foundational Reading (kinda)

I’ve been letting myself get behind on this blog again. Normally, I put together three or four posts over the weekend and just schedule them to post during the week. So far that has kept me from getting too far behind…

I haven’t done that for the last couple of weekends, however, so I no longer have a pool of posts that are pretty much ready to go.

Grr…that means I have to make something up on the spot, and I’m not feeling particularly “bloggish” this morning.

Maybe I’ll do a quick bit on inspirations. Yeah, that can work.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post on the fantasy and sci-fi that started my love of reading…and that led in a pretty direct way to the writing. I didn’t have the time to get in to the more recent, and more, err, intellectual reading that has also played a role.

Now, in some ways, I’m pretty old school – I think there are certain writers/works that anyone who aspires to be well-read and experienced should definitely experience, and this is an informal run through those. Please note, this list is in no way exhaustive: there are (obviously) very good writers out there that I have not yet read. The trouble is there just is always too much to read!

I am not going to try to put this list in any kind of real order. Not only do I not have the patience this morning, but I am also sitting in a strange* coffee shop and doing this off the top of my head (while trying to drown out the shit music blaring right above my head):

*Holy shit do I wish I had gone to my usual place!

1)  Tale of Genji – one of the oldest novels in the world, and for an American an education in other ways of thinking and acting
2)  Shakespeare – you don’t have to like the stuff, but the influence on modern literature is undeniable (and no, I’m not a huge fan of poetry or plays…)
3)  Tom Wolfe – good heavens, simply one of the best satirists and social critics of the last fifty-plus years
4)  Mark Twain / Samuel Clemens – a genius, and a master of the craft
5)  Aleksander Solzhenitsyn – start with Ivan Denisovitch and go from there
6)  Tolstoy & Dostoyesky – a tie here…the Russians can write
7)  Arabian Nights – you think Hans Christian Anderson had an impact on the stories we tell? These have been foundational
8)  Dickens – yeah, I know, every high school and college kid in the US gets exposed to Dickens and resents it…don’t let preconceptions blind you, however, just read him with an honest and open mind, you won’t regret it
9)  A Death in Venice – as a metaphor for the suicidal death-spiral of a civilization it is priceless
10)  Akira Kurosawa – okay, not a writer…but we are talking storytelling here, and making a movie is telling a story. Kurosawa is a genius, plain and simple – watch his movies and study the storytelling, you will learn a ton

I could go on for…oh, hours. Chekhov, Mann, Chaucer, Virgil, Plato…

Crap, time for some self-editing in order to end this post and get on with the rest of my day!

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