As mentioned in my previous post, I’ve invited some of my favourite bloggers to share with us the books that they’d reprieve from their collections if they could save only eight of them. First up is Lauren Sapala. Lauren has an excellent blog crammed with practical advice and inspiring ideas for writing. It can be found at laurensapala.com. Before choosing her eight books, I asked Lauren to tell us a little about her writing.
I started by asking her how long she’d been writing. “Since I was a child,” she told me, “but I started seriously writing in 2006.” To date she’s written four novels and a short story collection and is working now on a fifth novel. I asked her how she’d describe her writing style and subject matter. “I write dark autobiographical fiction, and dark literary fiction. My writing deals primarily with addiction, alcoholism, and psychological dysfunction.” And where did she see her writing heading in the future? “I see myself writing literary fiction exclusively,” she said. “I may revisit the autobiographical material, but it will be much more ‘fictionalized’ than it ever has been before.”
Lauren cites her major influences as Marcel Proust, Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Andre Gide. Her fascinating list contains a book that’d be in my top twenty and another by one of my favourite authors. There’s even a Hungarian author on there (I’ve read a few books from that country myself just recently). Below are the eight books that Lauren chose.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey.
Chosen for: Hero Worship.
The protagonist McMurphy is larger than life and almost unsinkable.
Our Lady of the Flowers – Jean Genet
Chosen for: Beauty
Divine is a ragged drag queen hooker who only gives her heart away to pimps and criminals. One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.
The White Album – Joan Didion
Chosen for: Time and Place
All about California in the 1960s. The Beatles make an appearance, Charles Manson shows up, etc. Riveting and eye-opening.
2666 – Roberto Bolano
Chosen for: Complexity of Interwoven Narrative
I cannot even attempt to explain this extraordinary book. But it’s magic and everyone should read it. If you only read one book this year, this should be it.
The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Chosen for: Layered meaning
I’ve read this book a few times and my experience is that it changes according to whatever stage of life the reader is in. Also, Dostoyevsky’s insight into the human spirit in this particular narrative is mind-blowing.
Cane – Jean Toomer
Chosen for: Transport of the Soul
This is another one that I can’t describe. I’ve never read anything like it. It’s the only book Toomer ever wrote, it’s about the American South in the 1930s, and it’s beyond beautiful.
Book of Memories – Peter Nadas
Chosen for: Richness and Texture
Hungarian history, dark and perverse family dynamics, violent desire between lovers—this book is a feast of emotion, pain, and suffering.
Walden – Henry David Thoreau
Chosen for: Spiritual Guidance
A classic that I put off reading until the age of 35, and now I wish I had read it sooner. The outer structure of the narrative carries us through the four seasons, and the deeper levels of the book carry us through the cycle of life.
As I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s an eclectic and intriguing list – and just in time for your Xmas shopping lists too. I’d like to thank Lauren for sharing her choices with us. Happy reading!
Photo © Lauren Sapala 2013