Recommended Authors


“The author has final say among his or her own characters, but to control the interpretation of the story as it will be registered by the audience, the author can only persuade, manipulate, cajole, wheedle, intimidate, solicit, insult, flatter, bully, harangue, coax, shame, or otherwise appeal to or provoke the readers.”
Joseph Carroll in an essay for the book, The Literary Animal


• Hannah Arendt (particularly ‘On Violence’ and ‘The Human Condition’)
• Donald Barthelme (anything)
• Dodie Bellamy (anything)
• Italo Calvino (I’ve only read one so far, but I think if you forget everything everyone says about him, you can really enjoy a lot of what he’s doing)
• Raymond Chandler (I don’t know his body of work well enough at this point, but I gather there are gems in all of them.)
• Anne Fadiman (My friend, Beth, had this to say when we wrote each other about her work: “I like to read the work of essayists progressively, because I enjoy the way in which their work changes and gets ever more delicious.”)
• Lydia Davis (anything)
• Annie Dillard (anything)
• Michel Foucault (because you should, and if you do you will be rewarded)
• Elizabeth Gilbert (anything)
• Aldous Huxley (it’s not always great writing and his characters can be uneven, but there’s something there)
• Lewis Hyde (a brilliant and wide ranging mind)
• Pagan Kennedy
• Bruno Latour (not for the faint of attention span)
• Gabriel Garcia Marquez
• Mary McCarthy (the essays)
• Kathleen Dean Moore
• Iris Murdoch (I’m the first to admit it’s on the fluffy side and that they aren’t all good, but many of them are good reading if you want a long break from having to think so hard all the time)
• Eileen Myles
• George Orwell (his essays are incredible, particularly the Everyman Library Collection—well worth the money, but if you’ve never read them, read 1984 before you read Animal Farm—you’ll have lots to talk about, I would argue that Animal Farm is the far better book)
• Robert Pogue Harrison (anything)
• Beth Royer (anything)
• Constance Rourke (anything)
• Charles Simic (anything)
• Agnes Smedley (I’ve only read one, and I imagine there are many reasons not to read her, but do it anyway.)
• Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (anything)
• Wallace Stegner (anything)
• Boris Vian (just about all of it)
• Sarah Waters (so far everything I’ve read has been totally engrossing)


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