This is my ever-developing personal canon: the books that have influenced my life to such a degree that they have become part of me.
I revisit these stories at different points in my life to learn something new and deeper about the world, as well as myself. I hope one or more of these items speak to you, too.
- All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this novel has been described as the quintessential book on American politics. The prose is gorgeous; the story dramatic; and this is my favorite novel.
- Double Indemnity by James M. Cain: The basis for the classic film noir directed by Billy Wilder and co-written by Raymond Chandler, the hard-boiled prose of this tale is both wicked and intimate at the same time. A classic.
- Different Seasons by Stephen King: From his prolific body of work, this book stands out as not just his best but among the best. It’s a collection of four novellas, including “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” (which inspired one of the best films ever made), “Apt Pupil” (which takes you places even the film didn’t dare go), and “The Body” (which became Stand by Me).
- A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway: A memoir about his time in Paris in the 1920s, this book is a great insight into his writing process and his interactions with artistic luminaries of the time.
Obviously, not a book. This music holds an important place in my heart and, as such, plays a role in my first novel. As one of my characters says of jazz enthusiasts: “We’re a small but strong group.”
If you’ve ever attended a show—hopefully in a small venue, where the atmosphere is concentrated to its purest form—the energy of the audience cheering on the musicians is contagious.
With the number of jazz stations dwindling, it’s important to keep America’s original art form thriving. Tune in to LA’s public radio station KJazz 88.1 FM when you get a chance, or listen on the web at jazzandblues.org.