Thursday, January 21, 2010

Literary inspirations

Mind is roaming a wee bit today and started thinking about influences on me - particularly literary influences. There were three that came immediately to mind. In order, they are:

James Clavell
Douglas Adams
Ayn Rand

Clavell is an awesome storyteller who managed to tell whole stories from various points of view all in the same book. Read any of his Asian saga books and you can see how he weaves different characters into the same plots while presenting each of their disparate viewpoints. If there were ever an author I would want to be able to follow, it would be Clavell. I have read each of his books multiple times to the point where each is worn with care and, in some cases, taped back together. For those who do not like to read 1000+ pages at a time, then read A Children's Story. It is a short book that weaves heavy (and dark) political undertones to an innocuous school room of children and their teacher. It is different from his Asian saga but certainly a telling piece, much like Orwell's Animal Farm.

Douglas Adams did satire within a science fiction format that is one of the few to have me in stitches each time I read it. The satire of human nature and how foolish people tend to behave is both hilarious and telling. Whenever I want to start cracking on people, I tend to think of how Adams may have phrased it and then hope to rise to his standard. Indeed, one of my favorite things to point out is that his Hitchhiker's trilogy actually consists of 5 books. Makes sense to me.

Ayn Rand, I have discovered, is an author (and person) who is either loved or hated. There is no middle ground, much as her characters in her major novels. Indeed, I recently saw a bumper sticker asking "Where is John Galt?" and it made me smile. It is a reference that only a Rand devotee would understand. Her writing is passionate about her point of view (more commonly known as Objectivism) and she brooks no dissent nor disagreement from it. While it has been called extreme by critics (among other things), there is certainly more than a grain of truth to her commentary - which is why she still has such a huge following almost 30 years after her death. Whether one agrees or not that the rights of the individual supersede the rights of society, her argument is extraordinarily powerful. Regardless, my favorite of her books is Atlas Shrugged and, while it is long and the commentary occasionally repetitive, certainly worth the read.

What are some others that I may be missing? There are others whom I enjoy reading but I am always open to other suggestions that I may have missed. While I don't read as much fiction as I used to, I think it is because much of what is published today is tripe (don't get me started on John Grisham).

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