books, over the years

I thought I'd give a quick run-down of some of the books I've read over the years; when I was young we emigrated to Canada and while my dad was at sea, my mum used to read to me. Soon I was reading myself, this was years before even going to school. I was reading Jack London and Mark Twain in primary 3, which would be (thinking back, haha) when we were all about 7 or so. Another writer I encountered in my school years was John Steinbeck - I got into London and Steinbeck again, years later, as it happens. By the time I read London's account of his drinking in John Barleycorn I was a practicing alcoholic myself and reading London was like finding a winning lottery ticket. The Star Rover was another one of London's that I read quite a few times.

As I mentioned in the comments elsewhere, I came across Colin Wilson's The Outsider in my middle years and from there, I branched out into Hermann Hesse. Demian and Steppenwolf gave me a lot to think about. When I left engineering I wandered about in a funk for quite a while, drinking a lot and reading Reg Hollingdale's translation of Nietzsche's work. The Three Metamorphoses was key literature for me, I read that endlessly and felt the words burning right into my brain. It wasn't all bit heavy work, I read a lot of fiction. I enjoyed the early Robert B. Parker novels, I remember reading Valediction and Taming a Sea-Horse in particular. I read all the Richard Stark novels as well - Parker is the ultimate crook. One of the Parker novels has the greatest opening to any book - "When the phone rang Parker was in the garage killing a man." You just have to keep reading after that!

What else - for sheer entertainment you can't beat the Les Norton novels by Robert G. Barrett. My cousin came over from Australia one summer, handed me The Godson and said, read that. I think that was what you call a life-changing moment, haha ..

After I stopped drinking I thought I might as well take a degree with the OU, so I signed on for some political philosophy courses. One of the course descriptors said, this is a reading course. So away I went. A lot of boring and badly written material involved there, no question about that. But I did have to study John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. So I got something out of all that uni work.

A couple other writers who made an impact at different times was Walt Whitman - I read Leaves of Grass during one mental drinking trip abroad to the Netherlands. Mind-bending stuff on that trip in more ways than one, I have to say. And Charles Bukowski. I read Ask The Dust by John Fante on a 5am train home from London after a two-week bender, as recommended by Charles Bukowski - I remember reading South of No North, and Tales of Ordinary Madness, and a lot of his other work. For a while there, Bukowski was the man.

I had a Kerouac phase, I read Dharma Bums a few times, also Desolation Angels and so forth. Henry Miller got a turn as well - the opening passage of Tropic of Capricorn blew my mind the first time I read it. (Check it out using Amazon's "Look Inside" software.)

And Raymond Carver deserves a mention, always.

Nowadays I tend to read indie published books on Kindle - I've found some good ones on there. I think the world has finally gotten over this nonsense about writing "proper" literature and a lot more interesting and worthwhile work is available now. This is a good thing, a very good thing indeed. All we need now is for the patriot to write his life story ... I'd pay good money to read that one ...

Tags: Dan Fante, Bukowski, Kerouac, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Jack London, Machiavelli, John Stuart Mill, Raymond Carver, Dharma Bums To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the Patriot's Corner. Thanks!

2 Comments - Share Yours!:

Findalis said...

I just can't a handle on a Kindle. There is something my brain will not accept as a book. I guess I have to have the feel of a book in my hands. The leather of the cover, the smell and sound of the paper, stimulates my brain.

Anonymous said...

I have one of the newer "paperwhite" kindles, and it's a very nice piece of kit. High res screen, etc.

Some of the history books I've looked at in Waterstones lately have fonts so small it's not really a pleasure to read them anymore, whereas the Kindle lets you bump up the size of the text so it's not a problem - unfortunately things like that are now becoming a consideration ...