I’ve been receiving a lot of books in the mail. The magical UPS elf delivered yet another this afternoon: The Fate of Mice by Susan Palwick, a short story collection—and oh heavens to Murgatroyd, it is a killer. You know those writers—those storytellers—who can punch out your lights but still keep you keep coming back for more—in pain, and begging for more? This is one of those books. I just read one of those stories. And it was so good, I almost couldn’t finish it. Because I knew it was going to have a sad ending. I knew it. And it did. And I almost couldn’t take it.
Anyway. Someone asked the other day—I think it was Mitch—about books that have changed my outlook. I’ll rephrase that a little, and say there have been books that make me want to reinvent myself as a writer (and as a person, though that’s another discussion entirely). Reinvention is a slightly different thing than altering one’s outlook, though the two are similar enough to almost be the same.
Unfortunately, there are far too many books and authors I could list. I’ve got an entire house of them—literally. I love books. I love words. I love sentences. And every time I read something, my guess is that it changes me a little. Puts a couple extra molecules in the old brain cells that weren’t there before. I come out the other side of a book just a little bit different. Do that enough times, and it all adds up.
So, no titles. Besides, naming a special book wouldn’t mean as much without the circumstances behind the reading of it. Life changes the interpretation; the significance of words and stories can alter over time, depending on where you are and how you are. Of course, today I was in Indiana on a rainy day at a very good time in my life, and I read The Fate of Mice, which is definitely going into the pile of those books that make me want to be a better writer, that again remind me—as happens so often—that I’ve got a long, long, way to go with more stories, more words, and yet more changes.