And so in hopes of starting a conversation with other similarly lit-enthused individuals, I’ve listed below the 5 works of literature from the five authors that have proven most influential to my growth and struggle in becoming both a better writer and also a better person. No short story collections made my list, and neither did any book-length works of non-fiction.
My list unabashedly excludes a number of older novels and authors that I know are widely revered and who’s exclusion from my list will likely ruffle some proverbial feathers.
Good, memorable writing grows from an understanding of what exactly makes writing good, and memorable.
Maybe it’s just the English major in me, but I get a sort of buzz from doing this; I could talk books all day.
And of all of DFW’s nonfiction, , in my mind, exemplifies the aspects of DFW’s writing that’ve always struck me as most powerful.
I’ll focus my reflections on the titular essay of the collection, Wallace’s famous recollection of what it was like going on a 7 day Caribbean cruise.Now, I understand that of all the books on my list, of all the books that are important to me as a writer and as a person, this is the book that is revered most intimately and most personally by the most people.And I understand it is important to many people for reasons I cannot ultimately relate to.Additionally, each character is dynamic; each character changes, experiences pain or overcomes the less admirable and more flawed aspects of themselves.Building character has always been something of a deficiency of mine, I think, and “Like all failed experiments, that one taught me something I didn’t expect: one key ingredient of so-called experience is the delusional faith that it is unique and special, that those included in it are privileged and those excluded from it are missing out.”Like many writers, my relationship with David Foster Wallace is fundamentally and necessarily complicated.Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction.It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question.”changed the way I think about novels, about the way stories can be told.It tells a story from a variety of vaguely interconnected vantage points that seem to revolve most magnetically around the carnivorous nature of the appetite of time — the nature in which people change over the course of their lives, how relationships morph and bend and brake.There’s an almost hallucinatory quality to Of course, underpinning the twists and turns of the narrative is Egan’s writing, which is quick, intelligent, witty, and chameleonic — no two chapters, these songs that comprise the larger, cohesive sonic whole, are alike.This is inherently difficult, in that it feels incongruous to what we as humans are seemingly hard-wired to do, which is mimic what we see. In fact this book, I think, is an example of how certain influences, while powerful and inspirational and offering of much wisdom, are ultimately untouchable, stars for others to emulate and orbit, but never to duplicate. The word’s overused and banalified now, despair, but it’s a serious word, and I’m using it seriously.For me it denotes a simple admixture — a weird yearning for death combined with a crushing sense of my own smallness and futility that presents as a fear of death.