This is one of those Facebook things, but I thought I would turn it into an entry as I like to read and I really need to kick start my blog again. The idea is to choose 15 books that had an impact on you--without thinking too much about it. So most of these I've read in the last decade, but that's ok. I'm listening to Nirvana as I write this, in case you were wondering.
1. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. This is probably my #1 favorite book ever. To be honest with you, I think a lot of Faulkner is crap, probably because he was drunk when he was writing, but S&F is just unbelievable. It bugged me, because they always warn you how difficult it is to read, and it's not at all. And that's what's so incredible about it. It crosses time, voice and states of consciousness in relating the self destruction of a Southern family. I saw a play of the Benji section last year performed at REDCAT by Elevator Repair Service, a Brooklyn theater company. It was awe-inspiring, and that's not a term I throw around every day. I want to write more about it, but I need to move on.
2. Dangerous Angels: the Weetzie Bat Books by Francesca Lia Block. Weetzie Bat is what made me want to move here. It spun L.A. as a punk rock fairy tale filled with palm trees and burritos and all kinds of plastic crap. Now I live in L.A. and guess what? It is a punk rock fairy tale filled with palm trees, burritos and all kinds of plastic crap. Bonus: my friend Tori was friends with with Francesa in the 80's and was one of the inspirations for Weetzie. We are all Capricorns, too. Exciting!
3. I'm With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres. This is one from way back, high school and my first few years of college. I read it over and over again. I dreamed of being a groupie, but I was way too shy and awkward to pull it off, even when drunk. But ironically enough, this was the book that made me want to write. Miss Pamela helped me see that writing didn't have to be so lofty and serious, limited to lofty and serious people. She was a lighthearted gal from SoCal who just wanted to be loved, and her writing was joyous, free and a blast to read.
4. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I keep this with me all the time. No matter how blocked or afraid I am to sit down and work, a few pages of this book gets me right through it.
5. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross. Reading this coincided with playing the violin again. For those of you who think classical music is just waltzes and Mozart, this book will make you think again.
6. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. I love how he writes in stream of conscious, mixing the profound, the mundane and the ridiculous.
7. Eleven Days by Donald Harstad. This is a mystery, and it's like Rosemary's Baby meets Fargo, about the murders of a satanic cult in a small town in Iowa. It's based on a true story and written by former small town Iowa police chief Harstad. Best of all, he writes like a small town cop, rather than a slick mystery novelist. I'm dying to make this into a movie.
8. Shopgirl by Steve Martin. I can't remember if I read this first or watched the movie, but I know that after both, I listened to the audiobook (read by the author) and it was the best of the three. I am always fascinated by how men write about women in general, but Steve Martin's empathetic portrait of Mirabelle broke my heart a little. I was not expecting to like this book at all. I'm not a huge Claire Danes fan--I thought it was all downhill after MSCL--but her wardrobe in the movie completely rocked my world.
9. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. There's not much to say here, except that every sentence he wrote was perfect--until he really started hitting the sauce. C'mon guys--put the bottle down!
10. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. Again, a complex, compassionate portrait (no pun intended) of a woman by a man.
11. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Another dark mystery set in a small Midwestern town, but I loved it because it explores women's darker impulses and the harm they do each other, especially within the mother-daughter dynamic. Like Eleven Days, it suffers from a cheesy bad ending, but I forgive them both.
12. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. This caused quite a splash when it came out, and it was exciting, because Mark and I both worked at the same restaurant. This is one of those post-post-post modern books that are thrilling, horrifying, maddening, confusing, breathtaking, eye-rolling--it's the kitchen sink in the form of literature. But at its heart is the mother of all haunted houses, and it literally gave me the chills.
13. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Examines what happens when we deny people their humanity and does it in the most subtle, heartbreaking way.
14. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. My favorite author merits two books on the list. Here he mastered his art, penning a metaphysical mystery interwoven with Japanese history and the collective unconscious. Also--talking cats.
15. Self-Reliance. Waldo is my hero, his words my gospel.
I think this is my longest blog entry ever. But it makes up for the last month of nada. I hope you enjoyed it Nicole, and seriously, I'm With the Band is awesome.