Books That Inspire, Part 1

Going to take a break from Character Development, story telling for a bit to answer some questions. A few readers have been asking me what books inspired me to write. So, instead of trying to fit it into 140 characters of a Twitter feed – Figured I’d just put them down here.

So, in no particular order, these are the works that have, to this point, pushed me to keep writing. The words in these books often causes me to just put the book down and shake my head in amazement because what the author was doing.

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

For me, this is the greatest novel ever written. The structure, tone, characters, dialogue, music, message and contribution to the world that exist in these pages are, quite simply, perfect. It is the story of America in it’s rawest sense – the curtains pulled back and the world exposed.

What I find truly amazing about this book is how it was written to guide the reader through the world of the main character in a way that does not preach, but reveals. I come back to this book over and over again to look for instructions on how to structure a novel. There is a statue of Mr. Ellison on Riverside drive that I often glance up at and talk to – trying to pry the secrets from, but i think that everything he had went into that book.

As the winter comes, it’s a magnificent read to lock yourself down with and the foundation for all literature that comes after.

The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton

This was the first novel I ever read and I still remember sitting up ’till 3 A.M. turning the pages – then, being devastated when it was over because I realized there would be no more book to read. I knew then the power of literature. Though it’s a YA novel, it still stays with me today. Love. Heros. Villains who aren’t really villains. The chance that life takes. Action. It really had it all.

Again, it doesn’t preach too much and really gives the reader a world to get lost in. You are forced to pick a side and even ask yourself what side you’d be on, then, with the turn of the page, it would be taken away from you and your world would be flipped open. When I was 15 this made a huge impression on me. Amazing story.

Shantaram, Gregory David Robberts

I remember when I first heard of this book. I was sitting in a cabin at the foothills of Hollywood, CA. A friend of mine was brewing tea of some kind and he had this giant 900 page book sitting on his dresser. He started telling me about it and how he had just finished it and how, it was just about, the most amazing journey he’d ever taken. Told me that if I read the first page, and that if i liked that, well, i’d be hooked.

Read the first page and next thing I knew was down at the bookstore picking up my own copy. Deep into the underworld I went – Half true Half Novel – the 900 pages are nothing when you’re into it. Without a doubt, everyone who experiences this book gives a knowing nod to someone they see reading it. Reading this will make you evaluate every step you take in the world. Amazing.

Black Mama Widow, Iceberg Slim

This is a piece of history most people don’t know about but should. I think this book should be required reading for every high school student in America so that when they enter the world, they realize what kind of world they were entering and how it was built. Now, this is a very hard book to read because of what happens along the way – after all, the story is pretty much all true. However, Iceberg Slim has the unique ability to take the reader through this world and keep them glued in.

For me, a writer is only as good as he is honest – and for that reason, these words are so amazing you can’t believe they were able to be captured and put down. I would say that if you were into Bukowski, you will enjoy this man’s writings. For me, he is one of the great one’s of his era and the words he puts down are as moving and true as they were when written.

Reader beware though – Some of the images will haunt you forever.

On the Road, Jack Kerouac

What can you say about this one that hasn’t been said. For me, when I read it, I feel him reading it to me. The place I am – where I’m at in the world, completely falls away and I am with him. You can tell how much he loves to write and how much he feels what he has to say – how he sees the world around him, takes on the most importance. He is in love with his friends and what’s left of the world around him.

So important to read for everyone who wants to write – for everyone who wants to take a chance on life. I read this while traveling to Kansas City and it made my journey all the more amazing. Thing is, after you read it, the ghost of Mr. Kerouac will stay with your forever.

Life is Elsewhere, Milan Kundera

Hard to decide which Kundera book I would say influenced me most. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting was the first that I read, and it changed my way of thinking towards what a write can do with a novel. Then, I read Life is Elsewhere and my life got flipped again. He has such a unique voice and his ability to bob and weave throughout the story is remarkable.

The ability to stay humorous, sexy and dramatic, all while telling the history of some extremely important times in the world are heroic.

If there is one living author I would like to sit down and talk with, it would be Milan Kundera. Thank you for deciding to do this with your life.

I read this one on the Subways of Los Angeles when they were first built. Without this book, I would have been in the bright lights and empty cars of the first days of the trains. This is a true novel. What I mean by that is – You are engrossed by the tale throughout, and then, just when you think it is ending – I’m going to leave it at that. It is, quite simply, the best ending to a novel I have ever read.

It is for this reason that I wrote the end to my book the way I did. I feel that if a reader is going to invest in the life of a novel, you better pay it off in the end. There is no doubt this happened. The premise of the book is incredible and so worthy of a book. How can people think of such things. Literature continues to amaze.

Not a novel, but this poem, for me at least, got me into the craft of writing.

 

 

 

 

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