Sunday, September 7, 2014


This one in response to requests from Facebook friends:
Several folks have tagged me in the make-a-list-of-ten-books-that-had-an-impact-on-your-life thing...but as some of you know, before my brain operation in November '09 I made lists compulsively and constantly, in my head and writing and blog and conversation etc. but then found it almost impossible to do after the op, so with the help of my book shelves and older lists I made before the op (and limiting it to English language only books, nothing in translation), I came up with these ten:
1. Laurence Sterne's TRISTAM SHANDY
2. Walt Whtiman's SPECIMEN DAYS/LEAVES OF GRASS (I discovered both of these at the same time when I was a teenager and still reread them and consider them one book, though obviously they are two)
4. Jean Toomer's CANE
5. William Saroyan's THE DARING YOUNG MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE (this collection of short stories was a young junior-high drop out's tour de force blast of original genius into the world and exposed me to more ways of approaching writing than all the college courses I later took...)
6. William Carlos Williams' PATERSON
7. Jack Kerouac's LONESOME TRAVELER (ON THE ROAD had an impact on me as a teen when it first came out, but this collection impacted me more as a young writer (18!) already into mixing styes and approaches and ways of getting my particular perspective onto the page...)
8. Dianne Di Prima's DINNERS AND NIGHTMARES (among the so-called "Beats" she had the most immediate impact on me and my writing and perspective, as her work and her life felt more like mine than anyone, even Kerouac, who I felt I had a lot in common with—and then her memoir RECOLLECTIONS OF MY LIFE AS A WOMAN impacted me many decades later as the best history of the 1950s downtown NYC and "Beat" scene, speaking as one who was on the fringes of it, including later getting to know many ways she was the first "punk"...)
9. Frank O'Hara's LUNCH POEMS
10. LeRoi Jones's TALES [PS: whoops, that should be Amiri Baraka, but my copy is from before he changed his name...]

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