Serious Writers Reveal Their Lowlife Reading Habits
HIGH minds in low places. Amber Sparks interviewed writers about their influences:
“I aspire to write ‘great books,’ but great books are not at all what made me want to write,” says Mike Meginnis, author of Fat Man and Little Boy. “Some of my most formative early reading experiences were apocalyptic Christian YA fiction from my church’s lending library.” It seems ridiculous, on the face of it, that writers could learn their craft at the doorstep of writing or culture that might appear inartful, inelegant, or lack complexity. And yet it makes perfect sense. These books are popular not because of their sentences, but because of their storytelling. And isn’t that the first thing every writer has to learn, regardless of medium or genre? …
I discovered, as I talked to lots of writers, that the vocabulary of the lowbrow almost universally reflects a kind of throwaway culture: garbage, disposable, trash. Yet it’s clear many of us have never tossed out these first and primary influences—they are anything but disposable when we look back at where it all began. Whether we writers actively avoided, sought out, or just plain knew nothing else, it seems what we consumed of the lowbrow world of literature, television, films, video games, and other pop culture has had significant influence on an awful lot of us. When we were young, many of us sought pleasure in the simplest kinds of stories, wherever we found them.