Mr. Writer*

Aaaaand, I’m back with more of my favorite literature.  First, a little more backstory.  There was a time in my mid-twenties when I couldn’t read any serious fiction.  I still read my beloved mysteries, but I eschewed literature.  I didn’t have any particular reason–I just wasn’t feeling it.

Much as I am not now.   Now, granted, I don’t go to actual bookstores that often because I prefer to order online, but when I do, I am dismayed at the drivel that is being published.  So much dreck and so little silver (fucking hate gold).  There is very little to interest me.  I don’t give a damn about any of the books people are reading right now.  I really don’t.  They all look the same to me, and they fucking bore me.  I do not read literature to be bored, people.

Is it too much to ask that authors write something original? I would rather an author take a huge risk and fail magnificently than write carefully-crafted books that are well-written, safe, tidy little journeys, and fucking boring!  We are not Victorian, England.  Fuck that shit.  No, seriously.  Fuck that shit.  On the flip side, don’t write something shocking just for the sake of being shocking.  I fucking hate that shit even more.  I am not easily shocked, and I resent people trying to push that button.  Just write an exuberant, dark, fantastical, engrossing, intriguing story, and I am there, damn it!  On with the show.

Ok, so that isn’t the title song.  It’s Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side as an exhortation to all the writers out there to let their freak flags fly.  Here is the actual title song/video of the day.

Since I am grumpy with mainstream literature right now (not that I’m ever really happy with it), I am turning my back on them.  I don’t think there is a mainstream book I’ve read that would even make my favorites list, anyway.  Oh wait, there is one.  It will be number one on the list.  The others will be random, as is my want.

Oh, and I have to explain a bit about my love for graphic novels.  I never read them as a kid because, as with television, movies, and music, they were not a part of my cultural upbringing.  I saw the Superman movie when I was a young girl, and it gave me nightmares for weeks.

Anyway, it was only within the last five or seven years that I have been reading graphic novels.  Natasha turned me onto the Sandman series by the brilliant Neil Gaiman, and I was hooked.   I became a comic book whore, except more discriminating.

And now, on with the list.

  1. The Giver by Lois Lowry.  This is a Young Adult novel with some pretty adult themes.  Sober ones.  It won the Newberry Medal in 1994.  It is about a boy who discovers the memories of his society.  More than that, I will not say because it’s best to read this book without any preconceived ideas.
  2. Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.  This is an engrossing novel about two cousins from India who have an unbreakable bond.  It follows them in California and in India as each deal with an arranged marriage and many familial secrets.  I like most of her novels, but this one is her strongest.  The sequel, The Vine of Desire, is good, but not as strong.
  3. Sandman by Neil Gaiman (link is to the Volume 1).  This is, without question, the greatest graphic novel ever.  I will not countenance any argument–yes, I will.  I am curious to see which graphic novels other people find seminal.  I know this has been around forever, but as I said, I’m a latecomer to the world of graphic novels.  I have read the whole series plus all the spin-offs, and I am eternally grateful to Gaiman (who is a serious hottie, too) for creating the Endless and their fantastical realms.  I wrote a novel based on the Endless characters, and when I tweak the ending to my satisfaction, I’m going to see if Vertigo will let me try to get it publish (or publish it themselves).
  4. Midnight Nation by J. Michael Straczynski.  A graphic novel that blew me away.  It’s about spirituality, but not in a ooey-gooey kind of way.  It’s dark, grim, and downright bleak.  My kind of story.
  5. The Tattoo Murder Case by Akimitsu Takagi.  This is a Japanese murder story, and yeah, it has tattoos galore in it.  It’s grim; it’s noir; it’s stylish; it’s fiendish; it’s devilishly engaging.  If you like Asian culture, beautiful women, and intrigue, this is the book for you.
  6. All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe.  Another Japanese mystery novel, but not so noir this time.  This one is more heartrending, bitter, and poignant.  It does have Asian culture, beautiful women, and intrigue as well, though.

I also like several mystery series.  Quickly, they are:  Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone series.  Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot series.  Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series.  Anything by Laurie R. King.  Carol O’Connell’s Kathleen Mallory series.  Those are but a few of the series I enjoy.  The problem is, most series should end after seven or so books.  These are a few that have endured past that mark.

This is but the tip of the iceberg of the books I have enjoyed.  I have piles and piles of unread books just begging to be fondled.  I don’t do the Kindle because I like the tactile feel of paper in my hands.  I like the smell of ink on the page–no matter how illusory it may be.  I like bending the spine gently so that it doesn’t break.  I like dog-earing the corner of the page I am on or simply to place the book face down on the open page.  I like to read while I’m on the can. I like to read when I’m taking a bath.  Yes, I’m old-school, and yes, many trees are dying to feed my obsession, but I will not stop reading actual books for anything.

Books were my first true love.  They will most likely be my last as well.

Aw, crap.  I was gonna tell you why reading so many Asian female writers when I was in my early twenties was earth-shattering for me.  Well, simply put, I didn’t think I could be a published author before that, not really.  Much like not seeing any Asian people in movies or on TV subconsciously told me I couldn’t be an actor, the lack of yellow pigmentation in the writing world signaled that, no, Minna, you can’t do that, either.  Once I discovered that other Asian women had, I realized that I could do it myself as well.   And now, I will.

*Stereophonics.  I fucking hate clowns, but this song is teh awesome.  There is a song called Lady Writer by Dire Straits, which is more apropos, but it is not teh awesome.

12 Responses to Mr. Writer*

  1. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but Stieg Larsson’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy is amazing (and a kick-ass heroine with tats). The first one is great… and the second one is even better. 🙂

  2. Woohoo! way to start my day – I LOVE Lou Reed 🙂

    Not in a weird kinda way mind – I just love his music.

    I used to honestly believe he should be president…and seeing what mess Bush made, I think I’m right…

    ‘Caroline Says’ – best song by Lou Reed (although ‘Strawman’ is up there too, ditto ‘Sweet Jane’ with the extended intro)

    Now, I really must get to work…

  3. Alex, I bought the book per your suggestion. Now, I just have to find it and read it. I love the song, by the way. I should have asked you for a song before posting this entry. I found the Stereophonics song on teh Googley.

    snee, Lou rocks. Literally. Hon, I could have been a better prez than W., and believe you me, you do not want me anywhere NEAR the red button.

    whabs, it is, isn’t it? Thank the FSM for teh Googley.

  4. Yeah! New suggested titles to read! Yeah!

    I do not read literature. I have in the past but I read as a guilty pleasure now (or escapism, which ever). I love mystery novels, though I fall into the Robert B Parker, Dick Francis, Nevada Barr and Tony Hillerman vain currently. I love Fantasy also (leaning toward what they are calling Urban Fantasy), and my current authors include Anne Bishop, Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, and I’ve started the Carrie Vaughn stuff.

    I have loved J. Michael Straczynski since the TV series Babylon 5 so I am looking forward to finding Midnight Nation.

    My Beloved Husband introduced me to the Sandman. It is great.

    I’ve occasionally contemplated a Kindle but reading is as much a tactile experience as it is a intellectual, emotional engagement and I can’t imagine that reading from a Kindle would ever live up to turning a page (and on some of my books, hoping the binding doesn’t crack.)

  5. Crystal, I love love love Nevada Barr. I should have included the Anna Pigeon series on my list as well. I actually consider Kim Harrison a mystery writer since vampires and such are so common these days, and I enjoy her books as well.

    I think you will enjoy Midnight Nation. It’s really well-written, engaging, and utterly enchanting. Still, Sandman is my all-time favorite graphic novel, so your beloved husband has very good taste.

    The Kindle: I just can’t do it. I’m a Luddite in many ways, and this is one of them.

  6. Have you read any T.C. Boyle? I’ve read nearly all his books – some are better than others. Especially some of his earlier works. I laughed my ass off reading The Road to Wellville and his book The Tortilla Curtain is one of the more eye-opening fictional treatments of immigration around.

    He’s a wild looking fella – google him if you’ve never heard of him and hey! do you live in Hennepin County? If so, they have a rockin’ library system so just check out one of his books to see what you think.

  7. One more thing – if you like British mysteries, I’d like to suggest another author: Minette Walters. [I was once a librarian until I couldn’t stand working with the public any longer!]

  8. gyma, I tried to read The Tortilla Curtain, but I just couldn’t get into it. I’m willing to give it another shot, though. It was a long time since I’ve read him. I thought Minette Walters’ first book had loads of potential. I don’t think any of the books I’ve read by her since have lived up to the potential. I will have to give her another shot as well.

  9. Next time you find yourself irked by claptrap you might consider Gore Vidal’s little essay on the bestsellers of 1973. It’s in his Essays, or perhaps you can just use teh google. I think you might enjoy it, especially his discussion of the Jesus book.

  10. sparky, I looked it up, read an excerpt, and, yeah, I think I would dig it. Plus, I learned that his name, in Russian, means “I have seen grief” in the “I am so beaten down, nothing hurts any more” sort of way. I like it!

    And, I know that there will always be middlebrow culture. Just, why does it have to suck so much?