Yesterday I was browsing at Idlewild Books and decided I would pick up a short story collection or two. There were many to chose from so I asked the (handsome) guy behind the counter if he was a short story reader. He said yes, much to my surprise, as I always hear that short stories are a dying form and collections unpublishable.
He showed me a few titles that he was fond of and then asked what I had read recently that I had really liked. And let me tell you, dear reader, I had absolutely nothing to say. Seriously. It was embarrassing. I was silent and bug eyed as it slowly dawned on me that I had no idea who I liked to read.
I managed to mumble that I was in school so I hadn't been reading much for pleasure lately. But the question rang in my ears: I'm a writer, how can I not have any favorite authors? How can I not know what I like to read?
I've had friends go through MFA's in Painting express a similar feeling of discombobulation, the feeling that all you thought you knew has been ripped away and replaced with others ideas or empty spaces, like coming home to find that all of your furniture has been replaced and rearranged. But this was the first moment in which it had occurred to me that I was feeling this way.
So, after some serious thought and home-bookshelf browsing I am able to articulate five authors that have inspired and continue to engage me as a reader and writer.
1. Milan Kundera
2. Italo Calvino
3. Dorothy Alison
4. Emily Dickinson
5. Julia Alvarez
Which authors are you grateful for?