When I was a kid, the only time I wasn’t trying to break my little tomboy neck every single day was when I was reading, which was also every single day: I devoured Superman comic books from my Dad’s drugstore and all the Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew mysteries at my small town’s Carnegie Public Library. And they led me to The Phantom Tollbooth, Tom Sawyer, A Wrinkle in Time, then To Kill a Mockingbird and beyond. But I wasn’t one of those kids that cherished one book; I cherished them all. It was the fact of reading, the new worlds I entered every day that mattered.
I read my way to a B.A. in American Literature, where my required reading was the classic Southern literature that would haunt my style and story-telling psyche when I began my own writing: Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the stories of Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty, the “easy ” William Faulkner such as “As I Lay Dying, ” and the “hard ” Faulkner, like “Sound and the Fury, ” which I hated as a reader/later appreciated as a teacher/and much later surprisingly loved as a writer. These are in my ear and in my voice. I love them still.
And what of favorite books by modern writers? The touchstones on my own modern writing journey? There’s Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide and Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping for language, Lee Smith’s Oral History for voice, and Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove for sense of place, Amy Hempel’s At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom for brevity, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for fearlessness. They keep reminding me what can be done with words. But my literary first love were those empowered kids’ series that made me first love the imaginary world of words as much as the real one.
Lynda’s debut novel, FAITH BASS DARLING’S LAST GARAGE SALE, is this month’s debut novel. We’re giving away a Texas-themed gift basket to celebrate. If you haven’t already entered to win, you can do so here.
On the last day of the millennium, sassy Faith Bass Darling decides to have a garage sale. Why is the richest lady in Bass, Texas, a recluse for twenty years, suddenly selling off her worldly possessions? As the townspeople grab up the heirlooms, and the antiques reveal their own secret stories,a cast of characters appears to witness the sale or try to stop it. Before the day is over, they’ll all examine their roles in the Bass family saga, as well as some of life’s most imponderable questions: Do our possessions possess us? What are we without our memories? Is there life after death or second chances here on earth? And is Faith really selling that Tiffany lamp for $1?
Question for you: what was your literary first love?