People often ask, as they do most writers, who are your influences?

Because I prefer short and crisp writing with a good bit of spine to it, I can easily name a number of long-winded whiners about lovelorn suburbanites or pantywaist GEN-X scribblers who wear me down: Dave Eggers, David Foster Wallace, Salman Rushdie, Richard Ford, anything from Oprah's Club of Woe etc.

Ah but why even bother with them? The craftsmen who led me to writing and keep me writing include:
 

Graham Greene
500 words a day and then drinks all around, after a rendezvous with a pretty lady. Not a bad schedule and not bad books, especially The Quiet American and Brighton Rock.  The tortured Catholicism can be trying but he is a marvellous craftsman.

John Le Carre
Yes, I know it's genre fiction but so what? The man has been writing at a very high level of quality for over thirty years. Even when he's switching gears, thanks to the end of the Cold War - as in The Tailor of Panama - Le Carre delivers the goods.

Dashiel Hammett
He wrote The Maltese Falcon. Shouldn't that be enough. The book contains the single most important insight into American life and existentialism. As Pico Iyer pointed out, the story Spade tells of a man who nearly dies from a falling beam is avant la lettre of Camus. Indeed, it's one thing to run away from mundane life; it's quite another to replicate it once you stop facing the music.

Saul Bellow
The sage of Chicago rarely lets me down if I stick with his shorter stuff. Seize the Day is an indisputable masterpiece.  Of his longer works, I really dig The Dean's December and Ravelstein, both loaded with piquant commentary on the
impending fall of American civilization and the need to be vigilant in an age of vulgarity and vice.

Jean-Claude Izzo
More genre fiction that proves the slur very wrong. Izzo knew Marseille, he knew how its men live caught between Europe and Africa and he knew how to write. Read Les Marins Perdus. Next summer (2009) I will finish a novella set in Dakar, Senegal which I will dedicate to him and his project.


Here are the fruits of my own labor, so far...

I Couldn't Care Less (Black Moss Press 1995)

                                                                                                   

                        The novel follows the days and nights of 
                        immigration lawyer Andrea Picarda, for whom life 
                        was sweet. Suave, wealthy, handsome, he sailed thorugh a
                        cushy itinerary of smart suppers, naked rendezvous with
                        pretty ladies and boozy seances, punctuated by junkets to
                        his villa in Brazil for a few days of recalibrating his psyche 
                        under the swaying palms. 

                        But, in a seedy international outpost like Detroit/Windsor, 
                        where the slots never stop spinning, the sirens never stop 
                        wailing and libidos overheat in lonely hotel rooms, taking 
                        care of business has a way of taking care of you. 

                        Armed with a pistol, a rusty blue Honda and a penchant 
                        for gonzo Zen philosophy as his assets, Picarda runs a 
                        gauntlet of danger and cultural wierdness to save himself 
                        from imminent demise and from himself.
 

                        fiction 
                        ISBN 0-88753-276-4 
                        132 pages $14.95 


 

Requiem for Oblivion - Rafael Osiris da Silva (Black Moss Press 1998)

                                                                                                          

                        Rafael Osiris da Silva was born comfortable 
                        in Rio de Janeiro in 1938, the year of the Tiger, according 
                        to the Chinese calendar. He spent his youth and early 
                        adulthood in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. 

                        After a highly publicized political scandal in Brazil, he 
                        arrived in Macau in 1974 and was an owner of the historic 
                        Chateau Maurice until 1995, when he moved to Lisbon 
                        with his third wife and their son. He was killed in early 
                        1996 in a boating accident near Estoril. 

                        Requiem for Oblivion, as translated by Windsor writer 
                        Timothy Dugdale, reaffirms the value of a timely 
                        autobiographical work, for it offers a lucid snapshot of an 
                        important historical moment and the travails of an 
                        individual trying to grasp the essence of that moment 
                        while attempting to escape its uncertain ramifications. 

                        The book clearly serves no fad. The author presents 
                        himself as an indomitable and unapologetic scoundrel. 
                        This is a no-holds barred memoir, written in the 
                        idiosyncratic style of a man who while not a professional 
                        writer nonetheless brings a romantic literary sensibility and 
                        considerable erudition to his hard-eyed appraisal of a life 
                        spent escaping the inescapable. 

                        328 pages 
                        isbn 0-88753-315-9 
                        paper $16.95 

 

 

Copyright © 2008, Timothy Dugdale/Atomic Quill Media. All rights reserved.