My favorite authors
I told my Mom and Dad once that if I never get married and live to be an old maid, I will never be lonely so long as I have my books around. And I do mean it, though a handsome husband I would not say no to. So, today I share with you my favorites:
Mark Twain: A man after my own heart, Mark Twain did for literature what the Beatles did to Rock n' Roll. He changed the way people thought about literature at a time when illiteracy was still common and many books read as old English movies sound. He was one of the first, if not the first, American author to use dialectic writing. (Ex. "Because if he'd 'a' had one she'd 'a' burnt him out herself! She'd 'a' roasted his bowels out of him 'thout any more feeling than if he was a human!"-Tom Sawyer) He brought the rough American tongue to the world and I am so glad for that! My favorite is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Ernest Hemingway: Another American rogue. Hemingway had such a sad life that is so obvious in his books, a life of doubt, frustration, alcohol, and self contempt; and it is these qualities that he weaves into the characters in his stories in such a fashion that they are like no other characters that I have ever come across. My favorites have to be The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Old Man and the Sea (which I was pleased to discover that my Dad, who does not like to read anything but history books, loved it too.)
Jane Austen: Ms. Austen brought to readers around the world a look into the polished society life of late 1700's-early 1800's Britain. Her characters are endearing, though established enough that you know from the first chapter who the protagonists and antagonists are, and also that the book will end happily ever after for the protagonist. I love to her names, Mr. Knightly, Fanny Price, and my favorite character Edmund Bertram. My favorites are Mansfield Park and Emma. When I was reading Emma I was living out East in the rolling Berkshire Hills, so when she spoke of the lovely countryside I could go outside and look around and imagine Emma's world and the lovely British countryside.
J.K. Rowling: Yeah, she's on my list. After nearly a decade of refusing to be introduced to Harry Potter, I succumbed and have been a HP nut since. (Um...I was even Harry for Halloween). I have found the stories about "the boy who lived," to be fun, plainly put, the best sort of escapism there is. I went through a fall/winter where I read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, then The Chronicles of Narnia and then I swallowed my snobby literary pride and entered the world of Hogwarts and have never gone back. Favorite characters: Harry Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Albus Dumbledore. Interesting facts that I discovered, 1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (the first book) came out the year I graduated from high school. 2. If Harry were a real person, he would be the same age as me. He is intended to have been born in 1980.
J.R.R. Tolkein: Speaking of The Lord of the Rings, we move next to another favorite. I love Tolkein for many reasons. I love that he can weave a story infused with the most heroic and honorable characters that too are challenged by evil forces, and also show the darkest and most vile possible hate and evil. I love his representation of evil that greets our heroes at the Black Gates, the Mouth of Sauron. Creepy. I am ever impressed above all things that Rowling, like Tolkein created whole worlds and histories and lineage for peoples that came from their own imaginations. Another great thing about Tolkein is how he also placed poems into his prose, both in his riddles that Gollum tells Bilbo in The Hobbit, but also in things like the prophecy about Aragorn, “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.” I fancy that one day I too like Gandalf can sail for the white shores. Favorite characters: Aragorn and Gandalf.
C.S. Lewis: I have always longed to have an inner circle of writer friends who could meet at the local pub as did Lewis, Tolkein, and a few others, weekly at the Eagle and Child Pub. Like with Tolkein, I loved the moral tales that Lewis tells with such simplicity for his audience. How masterfully crafted were his stories in such a fashion that he made Christian thought available to children, something that has plagued nuns for years (ha ha ha-I am Catholic...this is funny). Even if you do not believe in Christian ideals, you can still appreciate the adventures that the Pevensie children along with many other notable characters like Eustace Scrubb, Prince Caspian, and Digory Kirk (the character Cedric Diggory in HP and the Goblet of Fire pays homage to this Lewis character!) have. And the ways that the stories begin, how we are gathered to Narnia along with the children is wonderful. I also love Lewis' use of characters based in mythology; naiads and dryads, centaurs, and nymphs, and like Tolkein, his creation of another world and a history that parallels with our own. And I will never forget how I cried when we read the Last Battle aloud on a ride to the train station- it seemed a sad and fitting end. Anne Lamott: I have only read Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies by Lamott, but all it took was reading her first book to fall in love with her painfully honest and raw writing. Lamott weaves faith and her trials in life into stories that are engaging and funny. She speaks of her struggle with drugs and alcohol, her crazy childhood, and then how she tries to make things right through her son. I love that Lamott can touch the very core of me with her honest experiences with faith and the funny way she talks to God. For anyone who aspires to write you have to read Bird by Bird: Some instructions on writing and life. To quote a review of one of her books, "She has a friend whose morning prayer each day is "Whatever," and whose evening prayer is "Oh, well." Anne thinks of Jesus as "Casper the friendly savior" and describes God as "one crafty mother."
David Sedaris: I was introduced to Sedaris, a gay Southern raised writer, by my best friend. Sedaris' honest and hilarious commentary and story telling about his experiences growing up gay with a hilarious family that included his sister, comedian and writer, Amy Sedaris. David Sedaris' stories can make even the stiffest collared person laugh out loud. I have actually not read any of his books, I instead listen to them on CD on my way to work, causing people on the expressway to stare as I sit alone and laugh insanely! I have also had the wonderful experience of seeing him read his reflections aloud at the Detroit Opera House last year, an event that I would recommend to anyone that can manage to see him live!
And now for the poets: My favorite above all else has to be my beloved Billy Collins, who was U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001-2003. I had the wonderful experience to see Billy Collins do a poetry reading at my Undergrad, Oakland University in fall of 2001 (?) Billy Collins' poems are both nostalgic and funny. He has been compared to Robert Frost, another favorite on my list, and among his poems a couple of my favorites have to be "Nostalgia," and "Thesaurus."
Robert Frost: I have been mesmerized with Robert Frost since I was a kid and someone read "The Road not taken," to us in elementary school. Best line in that poem,
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference"
I had to do a project on Frost in high school and chose to memorize "October," it was then that I learned that Frost was called the common man's poet because of his easy readability and universal themes of love, death, nature, and human struggles.
And last, but most certainly not least, Walt Whitman: I love this picture of him because it seems to really speak to his how carefree he seemed to be with his poetry. If you have never read his collection of poems, Leaves of Grass, -which he would edit and re-release 6 or 7 times before his death in 1892- you are missing out on the 10th wonder of the world! Carl Sandburg, in his vivid descriptions of Chicago reminds of Whitman's absorbing description of the East Coast in the mid to late 1800's. He was brave enough to identify with anything and anyone and his poems are full of scenes of things that he saw and felt akin to. From the poem "Song of Myself," some of the loveliest lines can be found including, "I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you...Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,) You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books, You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self. "
Authors Note: Pictures of authors are in order that I wrote about them and can be found through Google search. Excuse the missing picture of Jane Austen-I accidentally deleted it, and the computer will not let me re-insert it. Also, I entirely left out Steinbeck who is another favorite due to time constraints in writing this...I will do him justice yet!