Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Four Most Influential Authors Not Mentioned Previously

Following from the most influential books---and the authors of said books are also, for the most part, the most influential authors---I offer four of the most influential authors not mentioned previously:

Ernest Hemingway
From the Nick Adams stories to For Whom the Bell Tolls and beyond, Hemingway was the first "American classics" author I read with passion and a sense of purpose. Though it's been a while since I've read any Hemingway, his stories continue within me.

David Quammen
I first read David Quammen when I was a senior in high school and picked up one of the first issues of Outside magazine. Quammen's "Natural Acts" column spoke to me like a mystic tutor---full of science, keen perception, and intrigue. Better than any modern-day author, Quammen weaves science and myth into essay and article. His two book collections of essays appearing in Outside, Natural Acts and The Flight of the Iguana, are well-worn on my shelf. His other books, spanning such topics as island biogeography, are even more detailed, though similarly well-written; and a new, much-awaited book on Darwin comes out this year.

Billy Collins
When I turned back to poetry after a near ten-year absence---by that I mean I hadn't been writing for ten years, nor actively pursuing 'new' and unknown poets to read---I randomly borrowed Collins's Nine Horses from the library. It was difficult for me to return that book: it was impressive and, I think, influencing enough that even with the threat of a year's worth of library fines, I wanted to savor that particular copy always. Fortunately for other library patons, I did purchase my own copy; and even more fortunately for me, I quickly discovered Collins's other collections, including what I think is his best: Picnic, Lightning.

J.K. Rowling
Everywhere I turn these last few years, it seems, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has had a profound impact on my life---all for the better. Whether reading the books to our daughters and watching their passion for reading grow, using the Harry Potter theme for our community Halloween party/haunted garage, or comforting in the challenges Harry, Hermione, and Ron face in the Hogwarts years as we, citizens of the world, face eerily similar challenges from terrorists within and around us, Rowling's works have greatly supported my outlook on life, and my passion for brilliant imagination: for all things magic!

Up Next: Four Most Influential Productions

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