Wednesday, January 13, 2010

O Lost!

I'm calling it research, although I could just as easily call it masochism.

A couple of weeks ago, I got this wild hair to read Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel. How I managed to live my entire life in Asheville, North Carolina and never read the famous book written by its most famous resident, I have no idea. But since my new novel is set nearby, and during the same time frame, it seemed like a good idea for a lot of reasons.

And coming off the Twilight high, I figured I could just crank it out in a couple of hours and that would be that. But then I found a copy of O Lost! at the library. It's Thomas Wolfe's original book before Maxwell Perkins edited 30% of it out, and I figured "Oh, why not..."

I really underestimated my ability to read this thing. Has it been that long since I had to read a literary tombe?

I thought Twilight was descriptive, but holy crap, I feel assaulted by Thomas Wolfe's descriptions. They gallop full bore across the page and actually give me a head rush.

I'm trying to take note, because the descriptions *are* breathtakingly beautiful, and beautiful descriptions are not my forte. And while reading great works of literature is supposed to be inherently motivating to the author, the only thing I've been motivated to do so far is stick my head in a paper bag and take deep, cleansing breaths.

Why am I suddenly so affected by every book I read? It's as if I'm internalizing everything. And that's wierd.

I have no explanation for it, just like I have no explanation for why, out of nowhere, I've been seized with a compulsion to write feverishly.

Is it just me? Has anyone else lost their mind over a book recently?


  1. No, it's not just you. I keep a notebook beside my bed and write down amazing sentences (and often paragraphs) that i read. Occassionally when I'm stuck with my own writing i go and read it and it's like having a shot of vodka and redbull when you're flagging on the dancefloor - completley rejuvenates me that words can be so amazing. and it drives me to make (if not amazing, but good) words too. Hopefully one day, other writers will be inspired by your book!

  2. That's a great idea. I was reading in Writer's Digest this month about the idea of creating a writing un-journal. Seemed interesting. Maybe I should give that a try (and blog about it, of course). :-)

  3. i've been losing my mind in books since before i can remember....

    which is why i think i love them so much

    and henry miller's tropic of capricorn kills me in new ways each time i read it, which is about once every ten years. i could never hope to write it. or anything resembling it. nor lee's to kill a mockingbird. or aslice walker's in the temple of my familiar, or gabriel garcia marquez' short story 'a very old man with enormous wings' or...anything by robert penn warren...

    i think you see where i'm going with this....


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