Happy Blue Creature & S. Beckett
I am often asked about my favorite books and inspirations. I’m uncomfortable with that question in regards to kids lit as I don’t separate genres and styles well. I like what I like and it all plays a part in my work.
I understand from a business perspective why we have genres and demographics, but I have a difficult time relating to the world according to marketing categories as I think most of us do.
Starting in high school I fell in love with the writing of Franz Kafka. (I even illustrated a take on one of his short stories) The ultimate young adult existential gateway books. And yes – that lead to Camus and Sartre and Borges. Many of the books introduced to me in an excellent high school literature class taught by Mr. Bernauer. (Thanks again for World Lit!)
And that experience propelled me to becoming a Comparative Literature major in college. And while I loved it, I had good reasons for moving on to 2 or 3 additional majors before I graduated with my BFA.
But all the books I love wash together. Some of Stephen King’s short story collections, Lord of the Rings, the picture poems of Kenneth Patchen, The Unamable (by Beckett), Jim the Boy, The Book of Illusions – the list goes on and on – and these run hand-n-hand with Bannock Beans and Black Tea, The Peanuts comic strip collections, The Little Prince, comics by Lewis Trondheim and picture books by Mo Willems. Low art, high art…it doesn’t matter. I enjoy them all and love when a book mixes in a bit of all those disparate human point of views. But to effectively sell a book, you best be one thing. But of course, the best books never are just one thing.
My literary enjoyments remind me of a Joseph Campbell quote: “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”.
He was addressing mythology, but I find this is an apt description of what drives my desires in reading too.