Who are your favorite writers? Why?

My favorite writers are songwriters.

This is, in no small part, because I am also a songwriter (and I've dabbled in performance poetry).

When I sit down to write or edit, I either have Mozart in my ears (I have a CD with his 40th and 41st symphonies on it that has irretrievably increased my productivity with frequency), or I have Tom Waits graveling in the headphones, hoping that maybe something will rub off on me. This small bit from "The Ghosts of Saturday Night (After Hours at Napoleone's Pizza House)" is what puts me over the edge.

...a solitary sailor who spends the facts of his life like small change on strangers paws his inside P-coat pocket for a welcomed 25 cents and the last bent butt from a packet of Kents as he dreams of a waitress with Maxwell House eyes and marmalade thighs and scrambled yellow hair.

. Yeah, that.

I'm also a big fan of the late Bill Morrissey, an unassuming, small-framed New Englander who died in his 50s right about this time last year. In addition to recommending to me one of my favorite guitar pickers, Mississippi John Hurt, he wrote a book called Edson, which is one of my favorites because it feels right – like four feet of soft powder on a grey Sunday with a fire in the fireplace and the power out and no chance of getting to the grocery store so you're stuck with the last of the week's wine and Oreos.

Local Twitterer Jason Mintz recommended I read Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I've only read him in translation (he writes in Spanish), but if ever ink spoke like satin sheets, Zafon has found the recipe.

You'll also see in my current reading list I'm back to Hunter S. Thompson. Most of you know I'm a recovering reporter, and Thompson taught me one really important thing that a lot of reporters still won't admit: if I'm part of a story and I still think it's a story, it is a story. "I" and "we" are even more powerful than "he" and "they" because I can describe how someone else thought something went, or I can describe how I saw it. Guess which description is going to come out more interesting reading? The second, of course.

Who should I be reading? You tell me!

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10/07/2012

One thought on “Who are your favorite writers? Why?

  1. Phil

    Can’t say enough about H.S.T.
    My other favorite author is William Kennedy–author of the acclaimed cycle of novels set in Albany, N.Y. I think his best book is “Roscoe” that deals most directly with the politics of the Albany machine.

    Ironically, HST and Kennedy met when they both worked in newspapers in Puerto Rico. Kennedy says that HST may someday be regarded not as a “gonzo” journalist, but as a formidable comic novelists–a peer of Twain, Waugh.

    My other favorite is T. C. Boyle–among his best are any of his short story collections (he may be the most talented current writer to publish frequently in this format) and his novels World’s End and Tortilla Curtain. Like an unabridged dictionary on speed–erudite and hip at the same time.
    Phil recently posted..My Musical DNA

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