I was a voracious pleasure reader from the start. My advice for this precious life: take every stolen moment to read a few pages of your favorite book. Please go anachronistic with me and buy the printed book for a walk down memory’s spine.
Careful readers will note the quality of contemporary fiction (see literature) cited in this article. Pleasure reading for me was not an excuse to lose hours in purple prose or dime store novelettes. The true pleasure for me was discovering a new author who had the gift of transcendent language (quality prose). The language that casts a spell over the reader, drawing him/her into the scene or milieu. A compelling protagonist, the traditional hero’s journey narrative was now secondary to the power of the prose. Does the writer take me somewhere new with their choice of words-a new voice? I was careful to avoid the language contortionists (you know who). New Yorker weekly magazine was my primary tutor for quality writers from age 16 to present.
I recall, the first time I read James Salter’s Light Years or Don Delillo’s Libra. Each a master. These are books I return to semi-regularly as the prose walk is revelatory. Reading Walker Percy’s, Second Coming with new eyes after moving to NC in 1995. Does this sound like Bueller’s soliloquy?. The purpose of life is to be happy in spite of overwhelming or in the face of prevailing evidence to the contrary. I promise you it will positively inform your conversation at the most perfunctory conference call or business meeting. Imagine what it could do for your dinner conversation with an important other?
The first book I truly read first in class than on my own was Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim”. Many years later, dear reader, we flash forward to my Herman Hesse period, started in Highschool sophomore year Honor’s English, with Siddhartha. The Herman Hesse pleasure reading truly commenced with Narcissus and Goldmund. Watch me smoking a pipe of Sail tobacco during this pretentious period. Spark lit, no pun intended, we find ourselves with a copy of the Last Temptation of Christ, by Nikos Kazantzakis, after a required classroom collective read of Zorba the Greek. Now we have truly arrived! Starting at this time to understand the importance of good prose, beyond the common necessity for sound sentence structure and engaging narrative. Just in time for Virginia Wolfe, James Joyce, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Thomas Mcguane, James Salter and T. corraghessan Boyle (not necessarily in that order). Next followed a period of Booker Prize-winning novels, commencing with Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger. This period coalesced with a predilection for all things U.K., and an overarching fascination with historical novels. History is best imagined from the perspective of an individual protagonist(s)(see Don Dellilo’s Libra, Ondaatje’s Coming through Slaughter). Next the Indian authors began to seep in, most notably with authors VS Naipaul, Bharati Mukherjee and Gita Mehta. Rudyard’s Kipling’s Kim to Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine.