Is Joyce Dead?

Does he live on in writing today? And if not, who are the writers that make the difference, guide our consciousness these days? Marquez? Borges? Pynchon? (not for me). McCarthy? Stephen King (is he anyone’s favourite?). How many people still read 20th century writers today for inspiration? Anyone want to add to this list? (in no particular order).

Joyce – for destroying the concept of realistic/willing suspension of disbelief narrative. Kakfa – for bringing the waking dream to the fore. Faulkner – for As I Lay Dying. Hemingway for being himself and those short stories, Gertrude Stein – for the value of repetition, Andy Warhol – for that diary, Marquez – for Love in the Time of Cholera, his prose-poetry and story capacities really melded in this one, J.D. Salinger – for page one filled with attitude in The Catcher in the Rye, Jack Kerouac – for describing the road, Brett Easton Ellis for showing us how alive American sociopathology and sadism is in the ‘well bred’ (well-breaded) American soul, James Kelman for that language and wonderful portrait in How Late it was, How Late, Dylan for Like a Rolling Stone, Henry Miller for Tropic of Cancer, Samuel Beckett for being there, Woody Allen for all his films onward from Annie Hall, Jorge Amado, The Animals, W.H. Auden, Warren Beatty, Saul Bellow, Chuck Berry, Robert Bloch, Lawrence Block, Jorge Luis Borges, for the best short writing of the 20th century, Hermann Broch, Joseph Brodsky, Charles Bukowski – made east LA come so alive, Anthony Burgess, John Burnside for crossing Commercial Street (Road) in the rain, Albert Camus, Ethan Canin – the Accountant, Raymond Carver for all his stories, Raymond Chandler, Leonard Cohen, Larry Cohen, Julio Cortazar, Billy Crystal, e.e. Cummings, Michael Cunningham, Len Deighton, Don DeLillo, T.S. Eliot – sometimes, James Ellroy, John Fante, William Faulkner, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ian Fleming, Safran Foer, Richard Ford, Michel Foucault, Jonathan Franzen, William Gibson, Nadine Gordimer, Graham Greene, Dashiell Hammett, Jimi Hendrix, Homer (hey, you can’t forget him), Dante for just those opening lines in Inferno , Elfriede Jelinek, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Thom Jones, Charlie Kaufman, John F. Kennedy, Milan Kundera, Philip Larkin, John Le Carré for Leamas at Checkpoint Charlie, John Lennon, Elmore Leonard for everything he wrote 1980 to 1990, Kenneth Lonergan, Federico Garcia Lorca, Norman Mailer for The Executioner’s Song, David Mamet, John Marks for exposing the undercover boys, Paul McCartney, Jay McInerney, Robert McKee, Czeslaw Milosz, Eugenio Montale, Robert Musil for showing us that a book and a brick can be the same thing, Vladimir Nabokov, Pablo Neruda, Stewart O’Nan for Speed Queen, Harold Pinter, Luigi Pirandello, Marcel Proust, The Rolling Stones, Philip Roth, Arundhati Roy, José Saramago, for a truly favourite book of all time for me – The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, Sam Shepard, Wislawa Szymborska, Quentin Tarantino for Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Peter Tolan (along with Billy Crystal, Robert De Niro and Harold Ramis for some of the best dialogue in a film), Sue Townsend, Gore Vidal, Derek Walcott – beautiful narrative poetry, Patrick White for showing me the spirit, William Butler Yeats for opening up classical style modern poetry for me and Paul D. Zimmerman for that gem and most underrated screenplay, King of Comedy.

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8 responses to “Is Joyce Dead?

  1. I don’t think Hemingway was himself in any of his stories.

    Henry Miller, as I think these days, may be the most important American Author in the last 100 years. I would say that some other novels were just as important, but as far as a writer, I doubt there was anymore more important than him.

    His work is never dated.

    Joyce is above everyone I believe. There will never be another like him because he was not just a great writer, but he captured a period in history that itself will never be repeated.

  2. I wondered if anyone still felt as I do about Joyce’s influence, which you clearly do. On Miller think Tropic of Cancer was simply brilliant. Try ‘Garden of Eden’ for Hemingway, if you haven’t already. Maybe you have a point on his self-evasiveness.

  3. Well, I never knew him, so I can say for sure, but from everything that I read, he was a jealous man who did whatever he could to position himself as the Hero. I would take Miller in a literary fight between the two because Miller was real, and without Miller, there might not be a future in American Literature. I will try the Hemingway book you suggested, but I can never get through of any of his stuff.

    Also, I would put Milan Kundera up there in the Modern Day writers who are amazing, and not forget TS ELIOT for those in the past.

    Also Ralph Elison, though he did not have the body of work, but produced the best novel in the modern era in Invisible Man.

  4. Thanks for the comment! Very helpful! 🙂 Who is ‘Uncorrected Proof’ written by?

  5. I can forgive Ernie for being jealous. I think he had a lot on his shoulders, all that writer myth status and wives that would drive a Hippo to drink. Elmore Leonard said he took a lot from him and then realised Ernie had no sense of humour. Maybe that was his big problem, Ernie took himself too seriously. On Kundera well I’m not sure, a bit of a euro-intellectual-cowboy (borrowing from one of my characters who fought over Kundera’s reputation with a friend who had just had been hospitalized after heart attack). TS wrote (rewrote) some great lines but hard to forgive for what he was in real-time..

  6. Hmm – Kundera wrote underground while being hunted for his political beliefs and went against the main stream Euro-intell people by exposing communism for what it was.

    T.S. in real life? Who care what an artist does in real life. It is not the person we are studying, but the work they create, no?

    I try and try to read Hem but can never get into it. Never.

    How about some modern authors?

  7. Or postmodern ones. There are quite a few contemporary writers there if you trawl the names. On Kundera I made him a bone of contention between two characters in the novel..He’s okay, just a touch too much at times – that is, existentialist. T.S., well hmm. Your wife gives you the money to live (her father the job to keep you going) and then she thinks up the name of your best poem, THE WASTE LAND, the one that made your name, and you shove her in a mental home and visit her once in twenty years?.. That apart from all the struggling early 20th century poets he raided for The Waste Land and never credited..I think there are great lines in there..but he was a Catholic antisemitc bigot who as an editor for Faber and Faber held writers up for months while he mulled over not making up his mind whether to publsih or not..no my fave as a bloke..

  8. Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

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