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My Early Literary Influences

January 7th, 2007

For Today’s Discussion:

I was just e-ing with my friend, a lover of literature and words, about our early influences. She feels, in hindsight, that she was much too harsh on Woolf. And that perhaps she should have branched out from Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Valley of the Dolls. She is wrong. JLS was a fine example of what each of us should strive for in personal growth. And the Dolls? You do not want to end up being a doll or popping dolls. I think we can all learn a little something here.

I can see, in hindsight, that throughout my college years, I loved Toni Morrison and “The Song of Solomon” to the exclusion of everything else. Except Shakespeare. And John Donne. And “Rosemary’s Baby” (the film and the book). And the movie “Sid and Nancy.”

My other early influences, both cinematic and literary? Here goes:

Am/have always been extremely fond of Truman Capote (his Southern writing, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and Eudora Welty

Double features my parents took me to as a child:

Jonathan Livingston Seagull/Brian’s Song (at the Bagdad Theatre in Southeast Portland. My dad and his best friend L took us. I remember them bawling like babies — “I love you, man!” Heehee. Pretty sweet.)

Deliverance/Dirty Harry (at the drive-in. Mom and Dad thought my sister and I would sleep through both films. We did not. Not so sweet.)

My favorite books as a child and teen:
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (which I often refer to when writing the Friday Advice Column for Wacky Mothers & Others)
I’m OK/You’re OK
Transactional Analysis book my mom had
Yellow Brick Road self-help book (mom and dad’s book)
Go Ask Alice (a fraud!!!! Pure fiction! Aiiiiiiii I cannot take it.)
Sunshine (this is still my favorite, and yes, I wrote my senior honors essay on it in high school.)
anything by Judy Blume (esp. “Wifey”) and Norma Klein (esp. “Mom, the Wolfman and Me”)
The Silver Crown/Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Robert C. O’Brien — My daughter and I are reading the latter now, she’s liking it)
The Borrowers
Hans Brinkman and the Silver Skates
The Joy of Sex
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex (and Were Afraid to Ask) — I loved this one because it was so… off. Somehow. But I didn’t really know how it was off and had no one to ask.

Your influences? Please list, and describe.


  1. mama kelly says

    Oh gosh I remember reading Go Ask Alice in junior high!!! I was totally convinced it was true but oddly enough it didn’t scare me as much as make me curious LOL

    I also read Judy Blume and still fondly remember reading Forever the summer after 8th grade.

    January 8th, 2007 | #

  2. Wacky Mommy says

    Mama Kelly, I was positive it was a real diary. Especially when she freaks out after eating, what was it? Peanut goo-goo clusters drizzled with LSD?

    January 8th, 2007 | #

  3. Himself says

    My earliest literary memories include Mark Twain (read to me and my siblings by my father)and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, which I read in grade school. I also remember reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in fifth grade, and struggling somewhat with the sentences that went on for several pages.

    By college I was reading Brecht (Caucasian Chalk Circle) and Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude), as well as Luxemburg, Marx, and Bertrand Russell on the non-fiction front. Garcia Marquez opened the door to magic realism, which I indulged in extensively.

    Also, having grown up in close proximity to the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, I couldn’t help getting into Kurt Vonnegut Jr., starting with Slaughterhouse-Five, and eventually working through all of his umpteen novels (including the early sci-fi ones). Vonnegut remains my biggest influence as a fiction writer, I would say.

    January 9th, 2007 | #

  4. Wacky Mommy says

    Himself — There is no trash in that list. Did you read any trash, ever?

    January 9th, 2007 | #

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