Even as a child, I read a lot, averaging about a book a day. Now the books I read tend to be much longer and since my time is more limited, I usually read about a hundred books a year. No less, sometimes a few more. However since I started my job in Manhattan this January, my commute has offered me new time to read. By the first of August I had read 108 books. Twenty-six of the books were of poetry, the remaining books were pretty evenly split between non-fiction, and fiction. Poetry is extremely important to me, but I do not allow myself to read whole books of it, too frequently. I get good idea’s from poets, and I take their missteps as fair warning, but what informs my poetry the most is what I read outside poetry, the lessons I have learned from non fiction, literature, and popular fiction are invaluable. I feel like limiting what you are reading to a particular genre, limits the amount of literary tools that are available to you.
One of the writers that heavily influenced all of my work is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I read A Hundred Years of Solitude for the first time as a teenager, and I was very impressed by Magic Realism as a whole. I really liked the way he handled time loosely and embraced confusion. He named most of characters the same two name, teasing the reader, telling them to not take individuality too seriously. I like how he faded in and out of the narrative, focusing on what he thought was important.
Leo Tolstoy is someone else who has very much effected my writing. War and Peace, and Anna Karenina, his work as an author of realist fiction contrasts sharply with Marquez’s loose grasp of reality. However it is his grasp of people that I most admire. His characters breath, like no other individuals on the page. They can be summoned up in a few lines, and then are either dismissed or focused on. Even those quickly dismissed are for a moment fully realized. His ability to create someone in a few sentences is something I strive very hard to emulate.
I read in Cold Blood by Truman Capote while I was working on the Victims of Ted Bundy. I have many complaints about Capote’s research methods and his tendency to fictionalize minor details. I however have no complaints regarding the thorough picture he creates of a family, a town, and the murderers. He is an excellent writer and his sense of pacing is good. His distant perspective, and tone really influenced the manuscripts I was working on.