Last time I talked about unpacking boxes of childhood relic books and being somewhat struck that, if you based what I would be writing now off of what I read then, you'd be way off. Then I started thinking about the books that really informed my writing style and how I feel about writing, if not necessarily the subject matter. You know what? Many of those books came from long ago in my reading past--many were high school finds--but they weren't in boxes. Nope, they're on my shelf.
They were the books I was so thrilled to discover and read that I couldn't leave them behind through my moves, and they came with me.
A few of them:
Suite Francaise. So many things to say about this book, but what stands out and demands to be noticed are the characters. Nemirovsky creates these multidimensional, often ethically questionable but always sympathetic, lifelike characters and the insane thing is, she does it so quickly. In the first of the series (of five, only two of which were finished) she links the story of the flight from Paris in advance of the Nazis together using vignettes featuring a wide array of characters. There are literally dozens--and when they come back into the story, you recognize them immediately. Absolutely masterful. The thing that gets me every time, though, is that she writes a beautiful, understanding, and realistic love story between the wife of a French POW and the German officer billeted in her house. The moral squishiness of this is wonderful. And so are the sympathetic characters whom you are rooting for--especially given that Jewish Nemirovsky died in a concentration camp before she could finish the series. That's right--while hiding from the Nazis she wrote a convincing, beautiful love story starring a German officer and a woman who would doubtless be called a collaborator. Talk about effective character creation.
There are more--maybe once in a while I'll devote a post to Books That Make My Inner Writer Happy--but these are a few of my favorites. What are the books that you can point to that opened your eyes to some of the magic of writing?