I've been too busy to write much lately, but in the occasional bout of obsessive facebok (sic) procrastination I came up with the following. Of course it's too late to think of buying presents based on this, but then Christmas is more about giving to Coles-Myer and Woolworths and your credit card balance than anything else I think. And teaching children that happiness comes from acquiring stuff (not doing stuff).
The premise for the list is as follows:
Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.
So it's not definitive or authoritative. Nor is it not listed in order of importance. With only the brief notes I made on facebok. But there's some stuff in here you really need to read. And as I have alternated fiction/non-fiction I should add the disclaimer, of course, that there's no accounting for taste...
In future I hope to write commentary on some of these on the blog. If I ever get the damn time.
1. Ben Hamper: Rivethead
Given to me as a present by my sister Anna, an autobiographical account of a worker developing mental illness from working on a production line, yet very funny - a huge inspiration to my life
Read LOTR about 6 times before I got to high school, I would be cheating if I left this off the list
3. Marx (and Engels of course): The Communist Manifesto; Socialism, Utopian and Scientific
I decided I was a Marxist after reading these two classics at about 16
4. H. P. Lovecraft: At the Mountains of Madness; The Dream-Quest of Unkown Kadath etc etc
Introduced to me by a journo and writer, a white refugee from Apartheid South Africa, still a favourite
5. Barry Commoner: the Closing Circle
The Das Kapital of ecology. Environmental destruction may have moved on since it was written in the early 1970s but the outline of the problem produced here is still as convincing as ever.
6. John Steinbeck: Tortilla Flat
I haven't read his more famous books but this one is a cracker.
7. Paul Sweezy and Paul Baran: Monopoly Capital
Most lefties I know only read Ernest Mandel for an introduction to economics, but I find Mandel hopelessly dense and unfocused. This is clear and readable and provides an explanation of what is happening in the weird world of economics in front of us.
8. Tove Jansson: Moomintroll series
Swedish children's author, readable and enjoyable at any age.
9. Sharon Beder: Selling the Work Ethic
Why we work so hard and why it's stupid.
10. Robert E. Howard: Conan
Don't laugh. Very well written pulp fiction. Cartoonish but not camp like the Schwarzenegger movies.
11. Marta Harnecker: Fidel Castro's Political Strategy; Rebuilding the Left
A brilliant leftist writer who understands how the specifics of political activity relate to theory
12. Gene Wolfe: The Shadow of the Torturer (Book of the New Sun series)
Disturbing and weird fantasy epic by a US veteran of the Korean war
13. Rius: Cuba for beginners, Marx for Beginners
Politics and history made understandable
14. Spike Milligan: Puckoon; Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall
Silly humour but from the heart. Either you get it or you don't.
15. Herge: Tintin
My favourite comic book since childhood