Okay, the title of this post is click-bait. Devised to pique your interest.
I'm actually talking about writers - - the authors who influenced me and my style of writing.
Without a doubt, reading has always been the greatest pleasure of my life (music is also a great pleasure, but one which involves enormous work and dedication).
I was a voracious reader from a very early age. Books were my escape, my inspiration, my salvation. I can honestly say that nearly everything I ever learned was from books.
This literary addiction was most likely inherent. My mother read constantly and had an insatiable appetite for learning. She never forced me to do the same, but always encouraged my literary quest which came naturally.
My father wasn't particularly keen on reading. Whenever he saw me absorbed in a book, he'd curtly say "Why the hell don't you go outside and get some sunshine?"
In my very early teens I used to climb to the top of the tree in our front yard and read there - undisturbed.
Dear old Dad once admitted that in his youth he read Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell. That was perhaps the extent of his literary pursuits.
When I was eight years old I read the unabridged editions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. When I was eleven I read everything I could find by the Bronte sisters. I remember how astonished the librarian was when I requested Jane Eyre.
"Are you sure that's the book you want?" she asked.
Now, a thousand years later (or so it seems), I still think Jane Eyre is one of the greatest novels ever written.
I'm glad I devoured the classics when I was young, because I probably wouldn't have the energy or incentive to do it now. Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Thoreau, Edith Wharton, Edgar Allan Poe....
In my early teens I discovered D.H.Lawrence, Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck (I loved The Pearl for its exquisite simplicity and The Grapes of Wrath for raw realism).
My favorite writer at that time was Taylor Caldwell, and I still think she was one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century. I read A Prologue to Love when I was thirteen and liked it so much that I wrote her a letter (and she graciously answered it). It's still one of my favorite novels.
I first started writing short stories when I was ten - - and I actually wrote a novel when I was twelve (good Lord, I hope it doesn't still exist).
So, what authors have influenced my "style" of writing the most? Many. Many. But I have to say the top two would definitely be John Rechy and Raymond Chandler.
I've read all of Chandler's novels and stories. Without a doubt, his unique and appealing style of writing is much more interesting than the stories themselves. I've always loved his semi-sarcastic descriptions:
"She has a mouth made for double-decker sandwiches."
John Rechy might seem like a strange influence - but his writing style inspired me more than any other author. His novels are predominately gay-oriented and very often pornographic - but it is his raw, realistic, and unobtrusive way with words that mesmerized me.
His first novel City of Night (1963) had a profound influence on me. Undoubtedly because I could strongly relate to the subject matter (the dark underground world of anonymous sex and male hustlers) and was living it during the first time I read the book.
Rechy wrote about all the notorious places in L.A. and Hollywood that I actually knew (especially in his semi-documentary book The Sexual Outlaw).
When I was a brash twenty-year-old, I wrote John Rechy a "fan" letter saying how much his writing influenced me. He answered, told me that he was working on The Sexual Outlaw, and gave me his Los Angeles address.
I never met him, although I had the opportunity. Perhaps it's best. Illusion is often preferable to reality.
Last I heard, Rechy is still alive at age ninety.
Ninety! Where the heck did the time go?
This blog post is probably of little interest to anyone other than myself, but I had an urge to unleash it anyway.
It could have been much longer, but I was merciful.