Someone left me this chill comment on a recent chapter of The Aftermath and I’ve been mulling it over:
“Hey, I’ve really liked all of your lit reference any chance you could list some other poets/novels you like?”
Honestly, that’s a difficult as shit question to answer.
In The Aftermath, I’ve already mentioned Steinbeck, Arthur Miller, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare. Plus I’ve name dropped poets like Philip Levine, Jean Binta Breeze, Josephine Miles, Allen Ginsberg, and Bob Perelman.
Honestly, it’s killing me to try and narrow it down. I went to school to study literature and poetry with a heavy focus on medieval lit and Caribbean lit (yeah go fucking figure). For medieval lit, I am ALL ABOUT some goddamn Chaucer, although I doubt anyone’s doing light Chaucer reading in their spare time outside of the medieval lit community.
[I guess it’s worth pointing out that the first and most notable Geoffrey in my life was Geoffrey goddamn Chaucer and I almost made a fucking career around writing about him. SO.]
For Caribbean lit, I love the aforementioned Jean Binta Breeze’s poetry. She’s my jam. I also love Edwidge Danticat, Jamaica Kinkaid. I tend to lean towards women in that category because it resonates more with me.
In terms of poetry, Philip Levine is my absolute favorite poet on the face of this earth. But I also truly do love Josephine Miles. TS Eliot blows my shit and I find myself revisiting his poems over and over and over again and finding new reasons to be in love with them. I love Audre Lorde, Robert Lowell, WS Merwin, Sharon Olds, Richard Wright (both his poetry and his prose, really), and Billy Collins.
For me a lot more is about how an individual poem resonates with me, though, and I consume just… a metric shitton of poetry, half the time forgetting who wrote it and just remembering the poem.
I approach fiction from a sort of weird angle and I consume a lot of different types. I’ll go through a phase where I only want to read things that I find influenced authors I love now (reading strictly stuff like Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, HP Lovecraft, HG Wells, Jules Verne—or more modern ‘classics’ like Stephen King, Michael Crichton). Other times I’ll get on a non-fiction kick or a horror kick or just pick up random shit.
I just. Ugh. This is spiraling out of control. Here’s my top whatever whatever authors and their best works imo off the top of my head and I’ll be done with this rambling:
Donna Tartt (The Secret History: beautiful prose about college friendships spiraling out of control)
Bret Easton Ellis (Glamorama, American Psycho, Less than Zero: frightening, sickening narratives you can’t put down)
David Sedaris (Nonfiction, everything he writes is hilarious and beautiful)
Nick Flynn (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: a poetry-influenced non-fiction account of life with his homeless father that is so haunting and everything I aspire to be)
Tana French (In the Woods and the books that follow are heavily atmospheric and literary mystery—EXACTLY the type of thing I’d love to be able to write successfully)
Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited, like Great Gatsby but better and gayer)
John Fowles (The Magus, super self-indulgent and atmospheric)
Thomas Mann (Death in Venice, a story that will basically haunt me forever, beautifully written)
Richard Flanagan (Gould’s Book of Fish, the most challenging and lovely book I’ve come across in a long time, worth many revisits)
Dan Simmons (The Terror, Summer of Night, Drood, Abominable—Dan Simmons is a fucking asshole and I write exactly like him, much to my dismay)
John Lindqvist (Let the Right One In - very different from the movie, I love this book and also it makes me want to vomit)
Cormac McCarthy (Child of God, seriously trust me on this one, please read this fucked up book)
Richard Russo (Straight Man — I channel Richard Russo sometimes when I write about boys, I can’t help it)
Mary Doria Russell (The Sparrow & Children of God — the weirdest, best scifi books you’ll ever read, the end of the first one still got me fucked up ya dig)
Maria McCann (As Meat Love Salt — difficult as fuck read but got me started on writing about latent homosexuals and I never looked back)
Mary Renault (Fire from Heaven, The Nature of Alexander — basically novelized historic fanfiction about flaming homosexual Alexander the Great, A++++)
Geoffrey Chaucer (Troilus and Criseyde NO JUST BEAR WITH ME, THIS BOOK IS SO FUCKING GOOD OK)
Mary Roach (Anything—it’s all nonfiction and equally wonderful)
So. I’m sure that wasn’t helpful at all, but I didn’t want to ignore that comment. If you’re ever looking for something to read, poetry or prose, literary or trashy, feel free to shoot me a message and ask me to recommend something based on what you like!