This book meme
Five days ago a friend tagged me in this latest meme that’s been making the rounds of Facebook lately. You’re supposed to list, without much thinking and deliberation, 10 books that had a profound effect on you. I guess that can mean both good and bad effect but at that time I didn’t have the time to think of the bad. Otherwise Michael Crichton or Jackie Collins or some other author I regretted reading would have made my list. Anyway, here is what I came up with:
The inclusion of “Elements of Style” is me giving a nod to my writing mentors, who will not be named in this post. The book is something I still read whenever I feel less confident about my language skills. Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer” was one of few classics that I’ve read and its profound effect on me is due to the fact that I found the telling of the story to be very homoerotic! Promise. I read “Dune” by Frank Herbert when I was in high school, I think. I didn’t get it the first time and years later I read it again and it blew my mind, so much so that I didn’t stop till I read all 6 books of the series. The new stuff? Not so much.
I think I have read “Dream Boy” by Jim Grimsley more than twenty times. In fact, my first copy was so worn that I bought another copy–pictured above. I remember reading it for the first time in summer, but in my room I found myself knowing how autumn felt. Too bad the movie adaptation wasn’t that great. “It” was my first Stephen King book. I read it when I was 13 and it was quite an introduction to the author. I mean it was very scary. It made my childhood fear of clowns and mascots keener and for months I stayed away from the drains in the sink and in the bathroom in our house. There was also one scene I remember, an almost sexual encounter between two teen-aged boys that started out really hot but ended in the death of one of the boys. I took it as a warning that gay sex was dangerous. A warning that, I must admit, I happily ignored.
“Memnoch the Devil” by Anne Rice is part of the Vampire Chronicles and it’s my favorite book in the series. I was fascinated by its arguments on the essence of good and evil, which was fueled by my emerging disillusionment with the Catholic faith at the time I read it. Actually, “Imajica” is my favorite Clive Barker book but when I was preparing this shot I realized I don’t have my copy of that book anymore. “Everville” is a very close second. I like Clive Barker’s horror aesthetic. It’s very romantic and gruesome at the same time. This probably says a lot about my feelings towards relationships so rather than incriminate myself, I won’t elaborate further.
Peter Wells’ “The Duration of a Kiss” is in the list because of one story, called “His Eternal Boy“, which was about the seduction between a teen-aged boy and a man. I liked it because the way the story is told, one is never sure of who the seducer is–the boy, the man, both of them, or none of them? I also identified with the situation of the story and again I will not elaborate anymore. “The Farewell Symphony” was the third book of a trilogy of autobiographical novels from Edmund White and it was the boldest and most heartbreaking. I mean, I just love the way Edmund White writes. He is the writer that I emulate. “Vanitas” is substituting for another Joseph Olshan book, called “Nightswimmer“. Again, a case of lost book. Another heartbreaking novel that resonates within me till now. I can still, in fact, quote my favorite passage in this book: “And so, no matter where I am, I remain exactly where I lost him.”
But given more time or given a longer list to fill (say 20), I’m sure I would’ve come up with other books that have affected me tremendously. One of these is “El Filibusterismo” by Jose Rizal. It’s not as popular as its prequel but I love it because of its themes of revenge and redemption. It’s thrilling and scary in places and it’s action-packed as well. And this post might never end so this will do for now.
Posted on September 8, 2014, in journal and tagged Anne Rice, books, Clive Barker, Dream Boy, Dune, Edmund White, El Filibusterismo, Elements of Style, facebook, Frank Herbert, Imajica, It, Jose Rizal, Joseph Conrad, Joseph Olshan, list, meme, Memnoch the Devil, Nightswimmer, Peter Wells, Stephen King, The Duration of a Kiss, The Farewell Symphony, The Secret Sharer. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.