The March writing binge is over, and while I didn’t get my project completed, that was mainly because I let five or six essential pieces of writing at home. I’ll get them today and finish this sucker. All the same, I’m pleased with my progress. I got the pieces arranged into what I consider a readable and congenial order. I wrote six or seven new pieces and inserted them, and I merged some things that needed to be merged and removed bits that interfered with the flow. I have a couple of
suckers volunteers to read and comment, and I hope I can get this out by the end of March, as I’d planned, and get on to the rewrite of The Swan Harp.
One of the things I love about the binge is the conversation. At supper on Sunday night we talked about the “essential reading” lists that surface periodically. You know the type: “One hundred books you must read”. Usually I’ve read about half of them and have no interest in reading the other half. I know a lot of people love “A Prayer for Owen Meany”, but I have to say my life is complete even though I haven’t read it. It also seems that many of the books I really love, and which I would consider either major or minor classics, aren’t on the list.
A propos of this conversation, Angie said to me, “I’d love it if you would put up a list of what you think is essential reading for the classic stories.” I truly believe that the Bible, the Iliad and Odyssey and a lot of other old stories are essential to our understanding of later literature.
For Angie, then – and for you, gentle readers, should you find it useful – a list of some reading I think is useful to a writer, or a reader, as sources of story, metaphor, simile and just plain interest.
A good compilation of myths – the Greek myths, and also the Norse, Babylonian, Egyptian, Japanese, and any other culture that grabs your interest. This is a never-ending reading list. The Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology is a good place to start.
The Canterbury Tales
The Arabian Nights – You probably won’t find the complete Arabian Nights; I’ve seen it only once. But do try to get an unbowdlerized version if you can.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales – Again, many of these have been “cleaned up”, but start with the ones you find and look for the older versions.
Shakespeare – Okay, nobody’s asking you to sit down and read it straight through, but you can rent movies made of many of his best-known plays to start with. And do try to read some of them.
There’s some to start with, and I guarantee you that if you start here and follow your nose, you’ll have a lifetime of great reading, and an unending source of inspiration for writing.
I’ve been reminded – again by Angie – that I need to post the recipe for Puff Tea Donuts, which I made for dessert on Monday night. Here it is.
about a cup of milk
tsp baking powder
2-3 tsp sugar
enough flour to make a thick batter
Heat the oil in a small pot – you want the oil about 2″ deep in the pot
Beat the egg and milk together, and add the dry ingredients.
Drop the batter in the hot oil in small spoonsful and fry until golden brown
Lift out with a slotted spoon and shake in icing sugar
Great with coffee or cold milk!