The Literary 10 – Number 10

I’ve been challenged by a good friend to list the top 10 books that have had an influence on my life. I thought, what better way to add some content to the ol’ blog. So I present to you the first in a 10-part series on my favorite and most influential books (n.b. The thumbnails link to Amazon, but they are not referral links, so you don’t have to feel weird about clicking on them).


10. The Art of Fiction

James Gardner said it best:

“Nothing can be more limiting, to the imagination, nothing is quicker to turn on the psyche’s censoring devices and distortion systems, than trying to write truthfully…”

Considering all the wonderful fantasy shows on cable television these days, it’s hard for me to buy into the notion that writing what I know is a good way to put food on the table. Indeed, I’ve written about many things I do not know well (I’ve never set foot in the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, but there was the description in the pages of the Greater Madison, WI yellow pages, written by yours truly).

But perhaps Gardner’s most important lesson was that the writer must always create for the reader a vivid dream and that every bit of writing should go towards upholding the creation of that dream. And that anything that breaks that dream should be avoided at all costs. And a writer who breaks that dream should be drug out into the street and beaten so that he may serve as an example to others.

Okay, Gardner didn’t say that, but see? I was creating a vivid dream for you.

If you fancy yourself a writer, you owe it to yourself to at least check this out from your local library. It will help you.