August 23rd, 2020
1. On Writing, Stephen King.
Stephen King has been teaching me how to write my whole life. Through his novels (my first was Cujo, a book he thinks is good, but apparently does not entirely remember writing), his adapted work, his interviews, his magazine essays, his Twitter account — dude and his deep shadow have always just been there. This 2020 edition of the classic account of his life and words has a few more additional insights, and the book itself is akin to having a conversation with a mentor who just really wants the best for you — and if you still want to write despite that, he’ll help you anyways. Some of his story is strangely like my own, and some of it contains my deepest wishes; if I forever am a literary squirrel, then King will be the gnarled nut tree that is my home.
2. The Writer’s Life, Annie Dillard.
This book was recommended to me by my friend Tracy, and it is the one most buried in my heart. It’s also the one I’m most likely to come back and refer to, again and again. Another conversation, but one with the writer who already knows: the journey, the solitude, the madness, the joy, the peace. It took me a lifetime to find, but an evening to absorb for the first time. This book is a gift.
3. Supergods, Grant Morrison.
Grant is my favorite comic book writer. He is also the insane-est, and the most sane, depending on the page. I get why some people are put off, pissed off or absolutely frustrated by some of his work; I am, too. And that’s what keeps me coming back for more. He’s taught me some of the most mind-bending, soul-stretching ideas and techniques that I know, and inspires me to never say good enough. (Alan Moore does, too, but he lacks Grant’s bleeding heart, which is a fun house mirror reflection of my own.) The novellas I published in my twenties were my punk rock albums; that spirit infuses this work. This book is an autobiography, a comprehensive comic book and pop culture history, and a concept factory installed between two plastic flaps. Absolute joy.
Read one, read ’em all or don’t read any. I can’t guarantee anything, except a better understanding of the writers behind the writing — which has given me a whole darn heck of a lot.