Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Outsiders, novels, and me - 40 years on.

Lucky Man, Inc. is having slow week. The upside is that I am being relieved of my many of my duties as spokesperson - the Hollywood premiers, junkets, squiring models around town, and boondoggles - and am liberated to write about whatever I want.

Today, I was thinking about the fact that The Outsiders is turning 40, which I find interesting because not only I am turning 40 myself this coming year, yes, its true, but I probably read The Outsiders 15-20 times when I was a teenager and even briefly riff on The Outsiders and S.E. Hinton in my new novel "Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine."

Sitting here ruminating on how much I loved this book as a kid, and how often I would the read same books again and again, made me think about (1) the novels I actually read repeatedly back then and (2) the novels I love most, because they aren't necessarily the same lists.

So, here are the lists, in no particular order. I look forward to your thoughts and comments as well:

First, the list of the other repeatedly read novels as an impressionable youth:

(1) Carrie - Stephen King. I bought this for 25 cents at a garage sale in Los Angeles when I was 13 years old. I still have that copy. Its quite tattered

(2) The Basketball Diaries - Jim Carroll. Technically not a novel I know, still its the first book that absolutely leveled me and it is still my all-time favorite. Adam Lawrence lent it to me. He also introduced me to The Ramones. Nice.

(3) The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger. I read this is in Los Angeles for the first time the summer I bought Carrie and I kept reading it well in to college. It always made me very nervous.

(4) Deenie - Judy Blume. I love everything she did. Everything. But this one had the perfect quotient of pain to triumph. And when she cut her hair. Crazy awesome.

(5) No One Gets Out of Here Alive - Danny Sugerman and Jerry Hopkins. I loved The Doors back then. I thought Jim Morrison was a god. I loved the cover of the book. I've since been to Jim Morrison's grave. And I liked The Doors movie. So there.

(6) The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster. I'm not even sure who the target audience is for this book, I just want to write one just like it.

(7) Confessions of a Teenage Baboon - Paul Zindel. Painful and terrible. Tortured. I think I actually felt better about myself for a moment every time I read it.

(8) Flanagan's Run - Tom McNab. When I was kid all I wanted to do was find books about running. And this was the best. A novel about a race across America. How cool? Ok, I'm a geek. Next.

(9) The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier. The greatest book for young adults ever. But you know that.

(10) John Carter Warlord of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs. Do the math. Warlord. Mars. Edgar Rice Burroughs. Sweet.

(11) The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien. I never made it through the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But The Hobbit, epic and tight all on its own.

(12) Flowers in the Attic - V.C. Andrews. The first time I read this I did so in one sitting. The best bad book I've ever encountered. It even blows away Hollywood Wives. Which is really saying something I think.

And everything since:

(1) Maus - Art Spiegelman. Completely captivating.

(2) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson. It was the first time I read a book where I thought the writer was actually doing something different than everyone I had ever read before that moment.

(3) Deadeye Dick - Kurt Vonnegut. Not sure how you pick between his books, but this one is the most moving to me.

(4) The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison. The worst I have ever felt after reading a book. This one made me realize the difference between well-written young adult novels and adult novels.

(5) Cruddy - Lynda Barry. Like a carnival ride. A wild, not to be missed, don't close your eyes for a second carnival ride.

(6) Bonfire of The Vanities - Tom Wolfe. I know I'm a sucker for NYC, and it may be soap opera, but the detail and nuttiness is awesome.

(7) Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth - Chris Ware. Special. Father-son weirdness to the extreme.

(8) Hairstyles of the Damned - Joe Meno. A teen book for adults. For anyone. It's all that.

(9) American Skin - Don Degrazia. So rich. Made me think I could write a novel.

(10) Bastard out of Carolina - Dorothy Allison. Like a sucker punch. Amazing.

(11) Baja - Steve Lafler. I know I'm pro-Lafler. And that like my kids I kind love all the Bughouse joints equally. That said, the artwork and colors in this one are particularly nice, so it gets the nod.

(12) The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov. I don't even know how you conceive of something like this.

(13) The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury. Ditto. See above.

(14) Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer. Not so much a novel, but for me, its the greatest/ worst road trip/journey story ever told.

(15) Fun Home - Alison Bechdel. Genius. I really believe that.

And there are probably more. Hit me.

1 comment:

Jason Jordan said...

The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson
Hairstyles of the Damned - Joe Meno
American Skin - Don Degrazia

^ I've read those. Read several from Vonnegut and Morrison, too, but not the ones you mentioned. I think the book that impacted me most was Slaughterhouse-Five. After that, I knew I wanted to write.