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Debooking: An Update

January 13, 2009

I’ve been dragging my feet in my appointed task. Writing about Whitman was easy. It was TOO easy. After that, however, I ran into a problem.

I panicked.

I also had to spend more time than I originally considered trying to figure out what writers and what works should belong in what catagory.  Then I had to consider the issue of influence.  Then I looked at the restrictions I set for myself: 3 categories with no more than 5 writers per category.  I spent a lot of time, in between writing, sitting at the bar, and watching the horses run deliberating. Ruminating. If you’re wondering how I managed to to that with all the aforementioned writing, drinking, and horse watching, I’ll tell you. I did it while watching reality TV shows. They’re devoid of  interesting content, but make for good background noise for the thinking man of leisure. 

And after trying to fit and stretch the restrictions around too many writers, or trying to judge between those writers who have influenced me versus those whose work I still enjoy reading, I came to a conclusion.

I made the rules. I can change rules.

So here it is. I’m keeping two of the 3 original catagories — getting rid of Writers I Know and Admire and  adding a Masters Catagory.  The reason for this is simple. I am lucky enough to know a lot of talented people personally, and it’s unfair to have to choose between them. Also, I am allowing myself 7 writers per catagory instead of 5. Those two extra slots make all the difference. And, so I can’t change them up again, here is the “definitive” list:

1. Archetypes (no particular order): These writers and their works have influenced me directly.

  • Walt Whitman
  • Charles Bukowski
  • Hunter S. Thompson
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Henry Miller
  • Lawrence Ferlingetti
  • Milan Kundera

2. Writers of Influence (again, no particular order): These writers I can read and not get tired of.

  • James Thurber
  • Octavio Paz
  • Sherwood Anderson
  • Wendell Berry
  • Frank Bidart
  • Jorge Luis Borges
  • Arthur Conan Doyle

3. Masters: They just are. Accept it.

  • Jack Kerouac
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Czesalw Milosz
  • Elmore Leonard
  • Umberto Eco
  • Kahil Gibran
  • John Steinbeck

Now, as I might have stated at some point before: these aren’t the only writers I enjoy… but these are the ones whose work I have had, or continue to have a personal relationship with.  And yes, even with the changes, I am STILL getting rid of a whole bunch of books. Yes, there are that many.  Ask anybody who has ever helped me move.

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