Were you expecting Long Island Iced Teas? Sadly, so was I.
Our prompt this week was to answer the following question: “Who are the great authors writing today?” Thankfully, there was a second prompt.
What I mean by this is the fact that I don’t necessarily feel as if I read enough to be able to answer that kind of question. When I was a teenager I used to read all of the time. Even in the early years of my marriage, when the plant used to shut down for a week here or there during the slow season, I was able to lie around the apartment, reading to my heart’s content. Eventually, as life became more hectic, I was only able to read my favorite authors' new releases. Now, I am attempting to read more, but it is a discipline that I am having to master. If I had the time I would read so much more.
Our secondary prompt was: “Who are your favorite authors writing today?”
Now we’re talking…
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As I mentioned there was a time when I was only able to follow my favorites. Over the years that list has included: Stephen King, the late Michael Crichton, Patricia Cornwell, Michael Slade, Clive Barker and Pat Conroy.
Citing Stephen King as a favorite author is like rock bands citing The Beatles or Led Zeppelin as influences, but in my case it is still a fact. I must say that I do not read everything that Uncle Stevie puts out. As prolific and as varied as he is, I tend to examine each novel and see whether it strikes my fancy before putting it into my cart or e-cart. I love when people tell me that they refuse to read his work because it is too creepy, frightening, etc. Of course, that’s when I ask them whether they liked The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me or The Green Mile. When they answer that they loved those films, that is when I rock their world.
My favorites in the cannon that is Mr. King would be The Stand, Pet Sematary, Misery, The Dark Half, Gerald’s Game, Bag of Bones and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. The latter is a particular favorite of mine, and not because of the baseball references. I like it because of the young girl's strength and determination as she deals with finding herself lost in the deep woods.
Michael Crichton was brilliant at filling his fiction with so much science that by the time he was done, none would question whether it might be possible for dinosaurs to roam the earth. Some might suggest that it was too much, but I think it gave his work so much believability. I thought Congo and Sphere were good books, but the terrible films really put a bad taste in my mouth. Uncle Stevie's fans can say the same about some of his as well. I was fairly dedicated between those two and Airframe, although it and Disclosure were very similar. I did not read again until Prey and State of Fear.
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Patricia Cornwell hooked me with her Doctor Kay Scarpetta Series. My wife and I have followed religiously since Postmortem. We have followed her, FBI Profiler Benton Wesley, Detective Pete Marino and Scarpetta's niece Lucy, through the highs and lows of their lives as well as the peaks and valleys that is Ms. Cornwell’s creativity. There have been some great ones, a couple of lackluster ones, but for the most part she keeps us coming back for more.
Which brings us to Michael Slade. I did a guest post on this subject just recently (http://wickedwriters.com/2010/06/16/special-x-thrillers/), so I will not bore the Wicked Readers with a rehash; however, I will say that he should be given a chance, especially if one likes their horror on the cutting edge. Why he remains largely undiscovered after all of these years, I still cannot figure out. Those of us who do know Slade enthusiastically consider ourselves “Sladists”.
“Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we’re opened, we’re red.” So began my interest in Clive Barker. You may recall Pinhead from the Hellraiser series of films. That’s him. I started with his collection of shorts, Books of Blood. Eventually I followed him along from The Damnation Game, The Great and Secret Show, Imajica, Everville and The Thief of Always. I highly recommend that last one. It is a fable and suitable for children. I read that one to my two boys while they were growing up.
Lastly, I will leave you with Pat Conroy. Writers of every flavor very often like to show off their mastery of the English Language. As a reader, we can easily find ourselves tripping up and losing interest in the characters, plot and ultimately in the book itself. Pat Conroy is not one of those. His prose simply must be some of the most beautiful ever published; reading his sentences just has to be like fine dining at it's finest. I have an image in my head of a non-wine drinker, tasting the bouquet that are his sentences and falling in love immediately with the vintage.
This past year I did a book review over on my blog on Mr. Conroy’s latest release, South of Broad (http://jamesgarciajr.blogspot.com/2010/05/sunday-morning-musings_15.html). In it, I answered the following: “How did a horror enthusiast end up reading Pat Conroy?” I explained that a sister-in-law highly recommended what I would call his masterpiece, Beach Music. I had proclaimed that I never read anything unless someone died in the first chapter. As it turned out, the first page recounted the story of how Shyla McCall leapt from the Silas Pearlman Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina, setting off an amazing and unforgettable chain of events. Encompassing many years, multiple characters and almost too many subplots to count, it is simply the finest piece of fiction that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I have read it many times and sometimes pick it up not necessarily intending to finish. I’ll grab it off of my bookshelf as if the intent is to give myself a delightful snack. It’s that good. How he tied every loose end into perfect and beautiful little bows, I’ll never know, and could only hope to be able to emulate.
It is so good that I refused to read any of his other works, fearing that they would be such a colossal let down. In the end, I finally buckled and have read a few more, though I have yet to work my way through his bibliography. I have also read The Prince of Tides, and Conroy’s memoir, My Losing Season. I have not been disappointed as of yet. He is a fantastic writer.
We read different things and we read them for different reasons. This was not an exhaustive list, but a list. What might be on your list? What might you recommend? I'd love to hear what others think. Hopefully, you can leave me with something new to discover as I hope I have left you.
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I would like to thank Julie Musil for commenting two weeks ago during our contest then about being interested in reading my e-book, Dance on Fire. You, my dear, are getting that chance. Thank you for participating. I hope you enjoy it.