Updated: Jul 30
My novel, Scuffletown , will be available for sale within the next week to 10 days, and as it gets loaded into the starting gate, and also as I considered my first blog topic, it made sense to tip my hat of respect to some of my favorite writers who have influenced my writing style.
1. Flannery O’Connor - First and foremost, O’Connor succeeds as a master storyteller. To my ear, her dialogue is authentic, and her stories flow with an appealing cadence and rhythm which work in tandem to make her stories easy to read. She captures what she refers to as moments of grace for her characters. I think they’re more like collisions of grace. They spark up like twister funnel clouds and stir up memorable conflicts and tension within her stories and novels.
I recently discovered on YouTube a recording of O’Connor reading her masterpiece short story, “ A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, and I cant adequately explain it, but hearing her read her own story adds layers of understanding of the story and the characters. I encourage you to listen to this master storyteller .
2 -Carson McCullers—I consider McCullers and O’Connor to be the Mantle and Maris of Southern literature. Baseball fans of the time frame of The New York Yankees 1960-1964 will appreciate what I’m talking about. McCullers’s stories and novels feature an unfolding of one spectacle after another, a process similar to jostling logs and embers in the fireplace, to keep the story / fire burning.
3-Allan Gurganus-His collection of short stories, White People, and his novel, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, are both classics. If you want to hear an author reading an unbelievably good short story, namely, “A Hog Loves It’s Life”, purchase an audio version of White People. He knows the Southern dialect, idiom and diction, and he is a superb storyteller.
4.-Cormac McCarthy-McCarthy is a bit of an enigma. He is a mixture of unorthodox form and style and subject matter, as well as matchless substance that is full of graceful writing, and spectacular vocabulary that sometimes includes words that he concocts out of thin air. If he were a Marvel superhero, his vocabulary would be his superpower.
5-James Dickey-Dickey was a professor of mine at the University of South Carolina, and I intend to discuss an anecdote or two in a later blog. His poetry is unique, and if you want to get swept away by unequalled poetry reading, then go to YouTube and look for “James Dickey Reading his Poetry”, and you will see what I mean. His novels, Deliverance, and To The White Sea, have some of the most musical and poignant prose in the English language.
Other writers I admire include Elise Blackwell( Hunger; The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish; An Unfinished Score; Grub; and The Lower Quarter: A Novel ). She writes elegantly and seamlessly, like Hemingway. In her novel, Hunger, she accomplishes Poe’s theory of “ the single effect”, but she is able to do it without “piling on”. It would make a great movie.
Also, another fairly new writer for my list is Paulette Jules ( News of the World). This “journey” novel ranks up there with Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain and Larry McMurtry’s classics Lonesome Dove and Dead Man’s Walk.
As mentioned, my novel, Scuffletown, is coming out soon. I’m pretty pumped about it. I am also working, simultaneously, on two other novels, and they both are set in my fictitious towns of Fountainville and Simpson Inn.