We’ve covered a lot of ground on the weekly You Tell Me. We’ve talked about the future of e-books, whether reviews matter, how you like to write, and whether Justin Bobby will someday find it in his heart to forgive Lo for calling him Justin Bobby (ok, well, we didn’t talk about that one, but only because I restrained myself. Which wasn’t easy.)
So, now that the blog is back (no, really this time), I thought I would ask quite possibly the hardest, most difficult, most agonizing You Tell Me OF ALL TIME.
Brace yourself. Are you ready? It’s going to be tough. I bet you’re dying to know what the question is going to be. Oh, er, I guess you already know what I’m going to ask because of the subject line. Curse you, subject line!!! Curse you!!!! Ahem.
So You Tell Me: Who is your favorite author of all time? Whose body of work do you wish was yours? Who makes you throw away the pen because you could never hope to write as well so you might as well just give up (only to pick it up again because writing is kinda fun)? And remember, you can only pick one!
My favorite novel is MOBY DICK, but when we’re talking body of work, as much as I love THE CONFIDENCE MAN and TYPEE, I’d have to go with William Faulkner (sorry, Ghost of Herman Melville! You can stop haunting me now! You were on some boats, I get it!).
What about you?
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David de Beer says
I’m going to go with Lynn Kurland because I always enjoy her stories… because I fall in love with her characters… and because her writing style is similar enough to mine that I can delude myself into thinking that I might write as well as she does someday! 🙂
Robbie H says
Fiction? Dan Brown. No, wait…Ernest Hemingway.
Non-Fiction? Philip Yancey
Hmm. I have individual favorite books, but as for a full body of work…
Garth Nix. He is continually DA BOMB kaythanks. The Abhorsen Trilogy, The Seventh Tower, The Keys to the Kingdom, his stand-alones, he’s just win win win win win all over.
Lisa E. Balvanz says
I have by no means read all of their work… but Charles Dickens always surprises and enchants me, and Ray Bradbury has a way of opening my mind to new ideas.
Other Lisa says
And along with an inability to make lists of favorites…I don’t know what book inspired me to write. I’ve wanted to write since I was old enough to realize that there was such a thing as books. My first novel was to be an epic story of cats on a camping trip. Unfortunately I did not know how to spell “tent.”
Thus my first case of writer’s block.
RED STICK WRITER says
Stephen King is one of the best storytellers of all time. I like the way Pat Conroy writes. He peels away the onionskin in which his characters and places are wrapped with drama and beautiful language. Greg Iles weaves great tales around very creative premises.
uuggghhh 1 is so hard. For a body of work I have to say Stephen King.
When reading the question – Is it possible for 2 names to come to your mind all at one time? Cause I swear I heard John Irving’s name as well :o)
I write women’s fiction and looking at their names makes me wonder if perhaps that is why my writing is a little on the dark and morbid side? Weird.
Not to start a flame war but I read a CS Lewis boxed set to my son and all but LWW seemed, well, dull. On the other hand, Professor Tolkein’s phenomenal feat of mythology, world-weaving, characterization and storytelling puts him at the top of my list for “Body of Work”, although I don’t read much fantasy.
I’m still dreaming about the language in Michael Chabon’s Summerland. Who can top “Great slow wheels of crows?”
Otherwise, Steve Erickson’s earlier work is phenomenal, Alice Hoffman’s earlier work is luminous, Neil Gaiman’s earlier work is amazing…
Which brings up a topic for a future You Tell Me: Why do some authors do their best work early? My own theory is that frequently too much success = too little editing, and there’s nothing wrong with the above author’s later works that a few more drafts wouldn’t have fixed. But I digress…
Subservient No More says
Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I mean, I figure if I’m wishing someone’s body of work was mine, I should pick something that won the Nobel Prize and all.
When I read One Hundred Years of Solitude I thought repeatedly, I am really, really, really not a good writer. At all.
But I kept writing anyway.
God bless his soul.
P. C. Hodgell.
Oh, God. Of only I had Tai-tastigon and rathorns and the Master’s House with its green-veined stone and golden-eyed shadows. Hodgell’s the only author whose world I’ve wanted to write fan-fic in, but I won’t do it because I could never never never be half as good as she is.
Barbara Hambly, I think. There are books by other authors that, individually, I love more, but for sheer body of work, it has to be her. If I see a new book from her, I know I’m going to love it.
Sophie W. says
I have to pick one!?
I don’t know if I can do that. I’d like to have Libba Bray’s amazing ability to tune into primordial emotions, Terry Pratchett’s wit, John Steinbeck’s way with words, Dickens’s mad skills (in general), and Garth Nix’s ability to world-build like there’s no tomorrow. But I don’t think there’s one end-all favorite. There’s too much variety out there.
Gah, order in which they occurred to me:
I am going to have to choose Twain for “body of work” that I most wish was mine. But wow, what a rough choice!
This is hard. I could probably pick dozens of favorites. But the one whose work I wish was my own would probably be Gloria Naylor.
Subject to change.
This is a toughie because I have favorites in different genres. Because I love paranormal, I have to go with the gal who gave the world Lestat: Anne Rice.
Jane Austen. She’s the one I go back to again and again and am never disappointed. If at any time in my career someone were to compare me to Jane Austen–even, as it would inevitably be, to my detriment–I would feel I had succeeded as a writer. And the best thing about having her for a favorite is that I admire her as a person as much as I admire her as a writer. Not many of my lesser favorites can I say that of.
Lora T. says
I would definitely have to say J.R.R. Tolkien. Of course, C.S. Lewis is pretty darn close.
But Nathan, you asked 3 questions and want only 1 answer?!
She’s not my favorite author, nor does she make me throw my laptop against the wall because she’s an incredible writer. But I do wish her body of work were mine. Novels, filk songs, toy lines. If I could midlist and headline cons like her, I’d be doing the happy dance daily. Mercedes Lackey.
Denis Lehane. I wish I could write like him.
Angelle Trieste says
I don’t have one. Mine changes every so often. 🙂
Others may have entertained me more, but…James A. Michener, took me to places around the world, before I could get there myself.
Ooooo, tough one! Hmmm, lemme think…Anne McCaffrey is high on the list, Stephen King, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Mercedes Lackey…hmmm, Terry Brooks maybe? What a stumper! I would have to say Melanie Rawn.
A Paperback Writer says
Wow. 76 comments and only 3 people mention William Shakespeare?!!!
I am stunned.
To paraphrase Burt the Chimneysweep:
“The tip of the top, the cream of the crop is William Shakespeare, and there we stop.”
I can’t think of anyone who could top Will for 400 years of mastery and beauty in the English language, although I have respect for those who voted for Mark Twain and all his incredible wit. Still, the Bard was far more versatile, although less sarcastic.
(with George MacDonald as a close second)
Flannery O’Connor-Patricia Highsmith-Laura Kinsale-Janet Fitch.
They’re the same person aren’t they, Nathan?
I want to be J.K. Rowling when I grow up please.
I think blogger ate my comment-
he is the master…
A Prayer for Owen Meany
Cormac McCarthy. Haven’t read The Road yet (but am starting it this weekend), but good God would I have liked to lay claim to Blood Meridian and Suttree.
Okay, fine, okay.
Ursula K. LeGuin
A. Jonathan Cox says
Peter F Hamilton
The man is a sci-fi god.
Several choices of mine have been mentioned. Although I’d kill to be able to break new ground with the simplicity of H. G. Wells, I’m going to cast a vote for Tennessee Williams. Because I would also kill to write dysfunctional characters as well as he did.
ONE? On whose planet?
Fine. Larry McMurtry. Or maybe William Styron. Although I loved Betty Smith. Oh, and J.M. Barrie. C. S. Lewis. And Margery Williams. Who can resist that Velveteen Rabbit? One?!!? Really. As if. *Huffs off, muttering to self. That guy is crazy.*
Walter Mosley, or Zora Hurston,
Whose body of work do I wish was mine? I think probably George Macdonald. With Neil Gaiman in close second place. Although neither of them wrote my favourite book, they’ve written the most things that I’ve truly envied.
Josephine Damian says
Two words: Alice McDermott
Ah…. the Irish.
Used to be John Irving…. Garp…. Owen Meaney… and even Widow, but his books seriously jumped the shark starting with The Fourth Hand.
But having met him in person, I can tell you he sure is easy on the eyes – *sigh*
Does anybody think Roth will receive a phone call from Stockholm today?
Who else could write a sad tale that is actually printed in the shape of a tail. (Alice in Wonderland)
Lora Leigh (erotic)
Sasha White (romance)
Susan Alvis (young adult)
Stephen King (horror)
That’s one for each of my favorite genres
Fine, I’ll say it:
Dean Koontz. I love that man.
Doris Lessing won the 2007 Nobel in Literature.
C.S. Lewis meets Michael Chabon meets Thomas Hardy meets Cornelia Funke.
Sparteza: You are spot on about P.C. Hodgell. I am proud to say she is a close personal friend. She knitted me a great wacky hat straight out of the streets of Tai Tastigon when I had cancer…what more can I say?
Vinnie Sorce says
James Michener can spin a tale like no one else…
Jennifer L. Griffith says
I would have to say, hands down, Barbara Kingsolver and her work in “The Poisonwood Bible”.
This novel is pure genious in structure, scene building, emotions, and POV, as she wrote in FIVE different first-person POV’s in a truly believable voice for each one!!! Her word pictures and play are amazing. I could go on, but I’ll stop as I’m sure MOST of you have read her masterpiece!
Nobody’s going to say Toni Morrison? Hello? Nobel Prize?
Talk about putting down a novel and saying, “Yeah, I’ll never be able to do that.”
Since I have so many favorites (someone even listed Philip Yancey) and am #101, I’m playing the ‘if he/she has already been listed they don’t count game’ and saying Mary Stewart. The Ivy Tree is genius. Plus her Merlin series is a constant favorite.