Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Last night, I finished reading Rikki Ducornet's "Entering Fire," a wonderful bargain from the Rain Taxi used book sale at the Minnesota Book Fest. I first encountered Ducornet and her writing a few years ago at a Rain Taxi sponsored reading for "The Fanmaker's Inquisition." Yay all around for Rain Taxi! While I grew up in a family of readers, most of my parent's reading came from the paperback shelves at the local library or from books passed among friends. I've always been a fast reader and they didn't believe in limiting what I could read, so I was often scrounging their books or whatever was left in the bookshelf at our cabin for more reading. I even confess to the blasphemy of reading some of the Reader's Digest condensed books that my grandparents donated to the book shelf. I remember being given nightmares by Nabokov's "Pale Fire" and going through a British Raj stage inspired by Kaye's "The Far Pavilions" but those books were few and far between and most of the reading was very forgettable. My grandfather fed me SF classics. Mac, who owned and watched over the land my parents bought for their cabin, passed me spy novels. On my own, I moved from the SF shelves in the children's section of the library to the mysteries and then onto the adult mystery and horror sections. Rikki Ducornet is too young to have been a childhood influence on me but I wonder what my writing would be like if more of those paperbacks had been classics or by authors like Borges or Nabokov (if I hadn't been so traumatized by my early introduction.) In college, I tried to remedy my lack of education by reading all of the Best American Short Stories editions going back to the beginning in 1915 and the O. Henry anthologies which started not long after that. Yay Grinnell College for having a complete set! I tracked down more work from the authors I liked. That's how I first encountered Eudora Welty who's probably had as much of an influence on me as anybody. All of these musings came out of reading Ducornet, who always makes me think, "Wow, I wish I could write like that."