At the party after eighth-grade
graduation, some of us got to kiss the girls. When the party ended I went
outside, where my father and two brothers were waiting in the station wagon. I
could see it was packed and ready to go. A couple of my friends, guys, asked if
I was leaving that night for a fishing trip. I said, no, we were going to
follow the crops.
Having cited the three main
influences on my development as a student and writer of fiction, I thought I
might go on to discuss the topic in more variety. As I mentioned in my previous
post, I have read a little bit here and there, as most people in my world have
done. Most of us still have big things we haven’t gotten to, and most of us
have gone off on our own paths of interest, but there is a core of literature
that many of us share. I will mention a few highlights that are probably on
other people’s lists as well.
My sense of literary influence is rather broad. In the course of my undergraduate and graduate education I read all of the major novelists of Britain and America, plus many of the minor novelists. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the western novel, and in my teaching and writing career I have studied numerous short story writers plus many novelists I did not read the first time around. And in the midst of all of this, I have maintained a fondness for the two great epics of Homer. In order to discuss the most significant influences, I would have to cite three, as I could not pick two of the following to the exclusion of a third. As it turns out, one of my writers is British, one is American, and one is Canadian.