I was visiting Menlo-Atherton High School today when a student caught me totally by surprise, asking me who is my favorite writer. Even better, what writer would I give my left foot to writeÂ like. Well, truth is, there is no ONE writer like that. And, I guess I like what brilliant genius musician Emily Wells said: “When I was 16, I wanted to be Ani DiFranco. Now I just want to be Emily Wells. The best Emily Wells I can be. That’s more than enough for me.”
But here’s a few writers that I really, really, really admire. (If you want to know my current reading list, I keep a log here.)
Jon Krakauer. I admire Krakauer’s ability to relate a non-fiction tale with gripping intensity. I read his books the way I read novels. Freaking fantastic.
Garrison Keillor. I wish I could tell stories the way he does. Man, do I wish it.
OK, I also wish I could tell stories like Joe Hayes. But that’s not quite the same as writing….
Charles Bowden. I like the way he manages to piss everybody off but people still keep reading him! Favorite book, of course, is Down By the River: Drugs, Money, Murder and Family–because it’s about El Paso, of course.
Jeanne Birdsall. Her book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy , reminded me of the kinds of books I used to read as a kid–Elizabeth Enright, maybe, or Winnie the PoohÂ books. Humorous for adults, clever, but innocent for children. You read a book about a family like the Penderwicks and you wish you were a Penderwick. I’d love to be able to write like that.
Kathleen Norris. I like the way she’s able to write these deeply religious memoirs that are completely satisfying, both emotionally and spiritually, even for somebody completely unorthodox and non-religious like myself.
Jane Austen. She manages to be both humorous and romantic at the same time. How the hell do you do that?
Jack Miles. God: A Biography is brilliant.
Flannery O’Connor. She’s just plain weird. But brilliant. And sometimes very funny in a sick sort of way.
I could go on, but here’s a few.