Monday, March 23, 2009

Grave Rubbings (Meme Time)

I run my fingers
over the coil
of your words,
hoping the rubbing
I take will
plunge deeper
than paper
to smudge the blood
of this heart
with the ink on
our soul


Karen, at Keeping Secrets, was kind enough to tag me for this 25 Most Influential meme. I found the task rewarding, if difficult, as I can't really say how much these writers have influenced my own work. It's difficult for me to chart a straight line between Dostoevsky and myself (what, you don't see it, either??). And yet I remember reading Crime and Punishment in college and being floored by its acute psychological depiction of a man's tortured internal struggle. That novel lingered with me, while others floated away. And so I take it more on instinct than direct proof that Fyodor Dostoevsky belongs on my list.

Others' influences are more obvious, or equally as obtuse. But this is the list as I saw it, in roughly chronological order of my discovery of these brilliant writers. I've also included my favorite work in parenthesis, just for overkill.

1. L.M. Montgomery (the Emily series)
2. Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
3. Jane Austen (Persuasion)
4. Victor Hugo (Les Miserables)
5. Edith Wharton (The Age of Innocence)
6. Edgar Allen Poe (The Raven)
7. Henry James (The Portrait of a Lady)
8. Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
9. Fyodor Dostoevsky (Crime and Punishment)
10. Walt Whitman (Song of Myself)
11. Ernest Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms)
12. E.M. Forster (A Room With A View)
13. Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient)
14. Anne Tyler (Breathing Lessons)
15. Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day)
16. Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections)
17. Milan Kundera (The Book of Laughter and Forgetting)
18. E.E. Cummings (somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond)
19. W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor's Edge)
20. Jhumpa Lahiri (The Interpreter of Maladies)
21. Ian McEwan (On Chesil Beach)
22. Colette (The Vagabond)
23. Khaled Hosseini (A Thousand Splendid Suns)
24. J.K. Rowling (the Harry Potter series)

And for my final entry, I'll cheat a little and say:

25. You

Because all of our supportive interactions, and your fine examples, have helped shape my writing and feed my daily inspiration. So thank you. :)

I will now challenge three more writers to share their influences. Vesper, Jennifer, and David -- I'm calling you out!


Aniket said...

Am first!!

Aniket said...

Firt of all... great startof te post with a beautiful verse.

Hmm... Glad to see 'The English Patient' on the list. Victor Hugo too. :)

And I see you included Rowling too (How much did Aine pay you for this?? :-) )

And you would certainly top my list if I ever made one (though I forbid anyone to tag me on this...:-) I could never jot down 25 names...

Aniket said...

Gosh.. what an awful typo... I wanted to say "great start for the post, with a beautiful verse."

Anonymous said...

I don't think I could come up with 25 to save my life. But that's not because I wasn't influenced. I tend not to think like an English (Literature) Major, although I did minor in it. I was never good at forming that mental, beloved catalogue of stories and authors and characters.

I think maybe the reason is that as a writer, I'm more influenced by the world. My sense of it. The immensity of its push.

BTW, I really like your verse and photo. :) I daresay that over time, you will find yourself on some of these lists.

Aine said...

Great list, Sarah! I like that you used chronological order.

You-know-who is my favorite (And, no Aniket, I didn't do any bribing! Ha!)

But seriously, like I said on Kaye's blog, as a science geek my most influential list would be rather lacking of literature. :(

My list of influential authors would have many "pop" writers (in addition to the science folks). Jean Auel, Richard Bach, Tolkien, and of course Jo, to name a few.

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

(Okay, I could not let that typo stand!!)

Sarah, your poem is incredible. It reminded me of visiting the Vietnam Vet Memorial in DC with my father when I was in law school. He had been a doctor in Vietnam and lost some friends. And we went and found their names and he made a rubbing. A different kind of love, but love nonetheless.

As for your list, I love it, too. Some of my favorites are on there, but I won't tell you which, since you've tagged me. :P

It will be fun (and challenging) to think about 25. Like you, I think the word influence is a litle sticky for me. But I'm looking forward to making the list. Thanks for thinking of me! :)nd! :)

Sarah Hina said...

Aniket, thank you so much for the kind words! I would be honored and humbled to appear on your list. :)

I actually thought about tagging you, but I gleaned from your response to K's post that you might not be into it. Glad you approve of The English Patient! Ondaatje is a wonder.

(Aine didn't have to pay me...though I should pay her for turning me onto the series! ;) I have such a warm feeling about those books and characters)

Jason, I felt a little strange about compiling this list myself, because it seems a stretch to think that I've been directly influenced by these writers. I like the word "inspired" better, maybe. Which is why I included #25, too (and not just to be a suck-up ;)). Blogs have been very inspiring and energizing to me.

And thank you very much for the warm words about the poem and photo. :)

Aine, you've got some great names up there! And I'm just grateful that you've shared some of them with me. :)

We should seek inspiration and enjoyment where it flows most readily for us. Thanks to you, I've found some new places to look!

Jennifer, I have a feeling we'll share a few. :)

And I'm happy to have tagged you! I've only gotten a quick peek at your fiction-writing side, but all of your writing really resonates with me. So I'm eager to see whom you've absorbed from.

And thank you about the poem, and for sharing that memory with your father. Visiting the Vietnam Memorial made me cry, and I didn't even have any connection to those names. I can't imagine how overwhelming an experience it would be to touch those names, and feel the grooves of loss.

Aniket said...

Yeah, I to loved the characters of 'Fred and George'. You yourself remind me of Prof. McGonagall at times. (Certainly not in looks :)) Sensible, carefully weighed words, yet unpredictable.

Catvibe said...

Perfect poem to go with this task! Well done. I was just so shocked and surprised to see ee cummings somewhere i have never traveled on there! Who knew? :-) I have been thinking about my list. Soon to be posted...

Sarah Hina said...

Aniket, any comparison to that fine lady works for me! :D And yeah, Fred and George were among my favorites, too. Talk about unpredictable...


Cat, somehow I think we'll have at least one in common. ;)

Can't wait to see what you put up! This has been a great meme to circulate.

Aniket said...

I loved your 'Meme and a tease' posted back in November too. About 'Have you ever.." I am ticking off things from that list. :-D

Fortunately for me, I already knew the Tease... but you sure do play Wicked at times. :-D

And I've been meaning to ask you for a long time now, who is the lady in your profile pic? (Pardon me if its someone very famous, and if this is a stupid question.)

RachelW said...

Oh, yes, yes! Some of these I would also add to my list. Wonderful! :)

Sarah Hina said...

Yes, she is very famous...VERY.


Okay, that lady is ME, Aniket!! :D

That is the one photo I have of myself where I'm not smiling like a doofus. Maybe that's why you didn't connect the dots.


Sarah Hina said...

Rachel, I'm glad you found a connection to some of your own favorites here! Thank you. :)

Aniket said...

Gosh... what happened to you?? Ten years can sure change a person. You looked like Julie Delpy in 'Before Sunrise' ten years back. Shabby clothes in Paris, with a five inches smile and I could spot a novel in the handbag. And now look at you... just LOOK at you. Looking like a duchess there.

Sorry but I liked the smiling face better. This is far too elegant. :-D

Aniket said...

Oh, and I left a comment on your post 'Grandma'.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

your poem is hauntingly beautiful! sad and a little chilling. you always pour your very heart and soul into your work...

Love your list. There are several on there that I don't know and will have to check out. Thanks!!

Karen said...

Sarah, I love the poem! This is a beautiful tribute to the authors whose works we love. I wish I could rub my fingers over their words and have them become a part of me! Bravo on this!

As to the "influence" part of this meme -- the use of that term was the most troubling part for me, too. If we say we were influenced by these writers, do we sound pretentious? But if we weren't influenced in some way, would we have kept reading? Maybe our writing doesn't mimic these authors, but we are the sum total of our experiences, of which, for most of us here, writers were a major part (read: influence). So, in my rambling way, I'm trying to say that it's okay for us to claim their influence! :-)

Now, for the list! You have included so many of my favorites that I can't even list them all. I'll just mention a couple I didn't include. I've read everything Ian McEwan has written! I love, love his writing! Another is Ishiguro. Wonderful writer! Have you read "Never Let Me Go"? If not, you must!! It combines his wonderful style with ethical questions/science fiction.

Sarah, I think the best thing about this meme, besides getting a glimpse into our friends' heads, is that it caused us to recall all of the wonderful writers we've read and loved.

Thanks for playing!

Sarah Hina said...

Aniket, Paul took a few different photos of me when my agent was looking to place my book. This is the only one (to me) that I didn't look somewhat self-conscious in. So...voila avatar! :)

But yeah, I'd probably rather be Delpy in that movie than a duchess, well, anywhere. ;)

(Thank you for the comment on my "Grandma" post--I'm glad it touched you!!)

K, I think we do absorb so much from the living and the dead. And I find some comfort that their--and hopefully our--words will endure in some way. Thank you for your wonderful sentiment here, and I hope I have turned you onto some new names! You did the same for me. :)

Karen, I truly am grateful that you tagged me for this one (and that you gave me the idea to accompany the meme with a poem!). I had such fun thinking back on my relationship with these writers, and recollecting names that have grown a little dusty with age.

I shared your struggle with the word "influential", and exactly as you describe. It DOES sound a little arrogant to start claiming ties to these hallowed names. Yet I do think they were my teachers. I never took creative writing in college--so I had to learn somewhere.

I'd love to write characters as vividly as Anne Tyler does. Do I do that? No way. But I know what a brilliant character-driven novel reads like now. All of these lessons do get absorbed, I think, even if we're not able to duplicate their profound impact. Yet. ;)

And you know, I have read everything by Ishiguro, EXCEPT "Never Let Me Go." It is a lapse that I will soon remedy. :) And I couldn't agree more about McEwan. I'm more than a little in awe of his work.

Thanks again, Karen! I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with. :)

David Cranmer said...

Thanks Sarah for including me and I would say that your list would look very much like mine. I'm traveling now and will have to pass on assembling one until another time. Mucho gracias though!

Sarah Hina said...

David, no problem! I very rarely tag people, as I don't want to put them under an obligation. So no worries. :)

I hope your trip is going well!

the walking man said...

It is quite the heady list of literature you have there Sarah...You might not be able to chart the path from Dostoevsky to yourself but can you chart one between yourself and Kevin Bacon in six steps?

Aine said...

Sarah, if I may, I'll give you an answer for Walking Man, since you are unaware of just how close your connection to Kevin Bacon is (unless I'm wrong and you have an even closer one...) ;)

1. Sarah knows Aine.
2. Aine's best friend in high school wore gloves to the prom that were borrowed from Kevin Bacon's sister-in-law.

(Does that work, or do I need to list best friend's mom who worked with Michael Bacon who is Kevin's brother?)


Sarah Hina said...

Walking Man, I was so up for this challenge. I really was. I was going to do it, too, no matter what what kind of contortions it took.

But...Aine did it for me. :) I know I can't beat her logic. Voila.

Aine, thank you!! :P

You rescued me, and so elegantly, too. :) Just 4 steps! That man sure does get around...

I think we should all do our own interpretations of the famous Bacon Footloose dance to mark this moment. :D

the walking man said...

To fat to dance but I am grateful for the first laugh of a day that did not start well.

Vesper said...

Sarah, what a beautiful poem, such an appropriate tribute to writers... I love it.

Your list is very interesting - some of my favourites are there, including no. 25... :-)

Thank you for thinking of me. I shall (try to) do my homework... with pleasure... :-)

Sarah Hina said...

Walking Man, I hope the day ends better than it started.

I've seen you dance with your words...the only kind of dancing I do anymore, either (except with my kids, but we won't go there). :)

Vesper, I'm so glad you're up for this challenge!! I can't wait to see your list. :)

And thank you for your kindness about the poem. That one was a pleasure to write.

Quaint Murmur said...

Lovely verse.

I love Montgomery too. Now I'm looking at everyone's lists and how on earth I managed to list just 25. The more I think about it, the more it strikes me that it's difficult to narrow down your favoutire authors, influences even.

For example, I've read only one book by Siddharth Dhanvant Shangvi and yet it had a profound influence on me.

Wonderful blog.