I never was much for the highbrow growing up. I’ve actually never cared for the pedagogical distinctions that literary academia has forced on different pieces of literature.
Because God forbid someone enjoys Hemingway and a Captain Underpants story one right after another. Blasphemy. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as enjoyable as the original Austen novel? How dare you!
I think Jane Austen wouldn’t have really minded. She made a literary career of sarcastic remarks embedded into her works and constantly commented on the limiting societal structures of her time period. Zombies + Lizzie Bennet? I think Jane would have considered it a compliment.
My point: literary experts praise these great authors and in doing so, detach the authors from the humanity that inspired their great pieces. Shakespeare is no longer a man with a balding spot just trying to get by with some plays he’s written. He is now a father of literature, hallowed and invincible.
The eruption of literary giants by those who simply address them as such, brings inequality to the literary world via the “highbrow” and the “lowbrow.” Readers are to aspire to educate themselves by reading Dostoyevsky and Kafka, not J.K. Rowling or Debbie Macomber. *YAWN* See below:
Influences that have had an effect on my writing are almost all considered low brow by the stuffy powers that be. But honestly, who gives a shit? I like reading snarky detective novels and watching dramatic soap operas/more snarky detective shows.
My writing is definitely affected by the shows I watch, the books I read, the people I meet, the weather, whether I have a relationship, whether a dog is present, etc.
I like to keep things straightforward, and I’m a big fan of intentionally shoving the reader out of my way. I’ve got things to write, and I don’t need to anticipate existential questions along the way. Which is probably why Hemingway and Poe are my favorite highbrowers. Their work speaks for itself and if they did readings, they’d probably be that one writer you didn’t expect to show up who gets on stage, delivers the most iconic reading ever, mic drops, then leaves. Legends, I tell you. (But not so much that other writers cannot be appreciated just as much. #equality.
Keeping company with Hemingway and Poe (that is an awesome future title, btw) are other catalysts that I’ll list here. Note: this list is super incomplete.
- Special Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder
- Special Agent Leeroy Jethro Gibbs
- Stephanie Plum [or anything else by Janet Evanovich]
- Joan Lowery Nixon mystery novels
- Sarah Dessen YA fiction [because there is a fangirl in all of us]
- Mad Men [Peggy, Ginsberg, Lane, Betty, Don, etc.]
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Tim O’Brien
- really long showers
- empty journals I never write in but people keep giving me
- A Clockwork Orange
- Anything that deals with WWII and/or the nineteenth century
- Sophisticated sounding cocktails that taste awful
- Harry Potter series / Charlie Bone series / Charmed tv show
You get the point.
Quotations are often overused and almost always said by someone else instead of by who they’re attributed to, but there are a few out there that actually spoke to me. When I heard these quotes, I made a point to read something by the author, because the words I heard were so poignant that I wanted to read more. These authors also belong (and might already be) on the list above as influences on my writing as well.
- “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” — Ernest Hemingway
- “We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.” ––Tennessee Williams
- “Everyone lies about writing. They lie about how easy it is or how hard it was. They perpetuate a romantic idea that writing is some beautiful experience that takes place in an architectural room filled with leather novels and chai tea. They talk about their “morning ritual” and how they “dress for writing” and the cabin in Big Sur where they go to “be alone” — blah blah blah. No one tells the truth about writing a book. Authors pretend their stories were always shiny and perfect and just waiting to be written. The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not. Even I have lied about writing. I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of shit. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver. I wrote this book after my kids went to sleep. I wrote this book on subways and on airplanes and in between setups while I shot a television show. I wrote this book from scribbled thoughts I kept in the Notes app on my iPhone and conversations I had with myself in my own head before I went to sleep. I wrote it ugly and in pieces.”––Amy Poehler
- “Someone once said that death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live. I could tell you who said it, but who the hell really cares.”––Haley James Scott, One Tree Hill
- “I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.” ––Kurt Vonnegut