I can’t help it. I like it when things get weird. Based on some of my poetry, and a few of my influences, I suppose you already figured that out. When other people ask: “Ah man, why did they have to go and get all weird on us?” I say: “It’s about time that things got interesting.” Growing up, I liked to watch weird television programming like reruns of The Twilight Zone and shows like The X-Files. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gravitated toward shows like Lost and now HBO’s True Detective. I just like things (books/music/poetry/movies /television series) that are a little bit strange. When it comes to my writing style, I haven’t completely crossed over into the weird realm. No, I just like to dip from the weird kettle from time to time. I’ve always believed that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. With that idea in mind, my writing seeks to fuse realism with a touch of weirdness, and a pinch of science fiction. I’m not sure what you would call it exactly. Personally, I call it A New Beginning… One thing is certain, though, it ain’t (deleted expletive) dull.
When it comes to weird fiction, my number one lost influence, there are many great authors to choose from, like H. P. Lovecraft, William Burroughs, and Robert W. Chambers to name a few. My favorite, though, has always been the man who started it all: Ambrose Bierce. I find Bierce’s short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” to be quite intriguing. I also like Bierce’s satirical lexicon The Devil’s Dictionary. Of course, the real mystery behind Bierce is his disappearance after he joined up with Pancho Villa in Mexico to observe the Mexican Revolution. With his unexplained disappearance, Bierce cemented his place in the pantheon of weird literature, and on my list of lost influences.
I’ve always thought that Ken Kesey was a weird dude too. Technically, he falls into the Beat and postmodern genres, but he’ll always be a weirdo to me. His book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is quite strange. You’ve got to love books that inspire Jack Nicholson films, especially films that help him win shiny awards. Having grown up in Oregon, and lived in Salem for a time, I understand what Kesey was writing about quite well. I know many Randle Patrick McMurphys, and I suppose there is a little bit of McMurphy in me as well. I suppose there is a little bit of him in all of us. What makes good literature, well, good is seeing yourself, or a spark of humanity, in the characters. Without that spark, there is only complete fantasy. There’s nothing wrong with pure fantasy, however, it just isn’t my thing. No, I like writing that reflects the real world. The way I see it, the very future of our planet depends on us choosing not to believe in fantasy, but what is real. Sure we need to escape from time to time, e.g., weird themes and science fiction, but we shouldn’t forget the bond that ties us all together: reality. Kesey certainly didn’t. Well, most of the time he didn’t anyway….
Like I said before, though, I don’t completely live in the real world. I’ve already given you two doses of realism with the Americans and the Russians (I suppose there are hints of romanticism and philosophical fiction in there too), and just now two weird writers. Now it’s time for the pinch of science fiction. For me, that would be Philip K. Dick. Truth be told, he’s a little strange too. I mean, he did write stories like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, The Man in the High Castle, and A Scanner Darkly. Then there are the stories of his unique and peculiar life experiences. Still, though, Dick is recognized as purely a writer of science fiction. I could tell you more about Dick, but I suppose the time has finally come for me to quit talking for a while. I do have a book to finish (polish up to be precise) and some poems that I’m working on publishing. I’m going to shift focus into that direction, and take a break from blogging for now.
With my lost influences now complete, and the foundation for my work now laid, it’s time to walk into the future. What does the future hold? you may ask. Truth be told, it has always been the same: two doses of the past, a touch of the present, and a pinch of the unknown. Next time we meet, it will be calmly and coolly – somewhere, in the middle of the future.
12 thoughts on “Lost Influence No. 1: The Weirdos”
Super post! I’ve read most of your favorite authors too. Have you read Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test about Ken Kesey and the Magic Bus?
#1 – will
Weird can be awesome!
#2 – very true
#3 – yes, yes, yes
Weird makes you analyse and actually push your own boundaries to logical or illogical conclusions…I blame Twin peaks for most of my major break throughs in life.
#4 – never a dull comment
What means weird and normal? i stil don’t understand.
#5 – normal is weird vice versa
Oh, good, six is my luck number! I read this post several days ago, and it has stayed on my mind. Excellent, interesting and a very thought provoking post, as are the others in this series. Several things you mentioned are completely wonderful, for instance, “I just like things…that are a little bit strange” and “truth lies somewhere in the middle”, and lastly “I don’t completely live in the real world”. These are beautiful thoughts of a creative mind. So, is weird the new normal when it comes to writing, or should I says writing anything of true interest? I was surprised and pleased to see that you mentioned the Russians as an influence, as most think of us as barbarians with snow shoes and fur caps!
I also want to compliment you on the titles of your posts, some writers will short change themselves with a lazy title, so their effort will go by neglected regardless of the content, so well done, Bravo!
Thank you Pepper. I am very flattered by your comment. I’m glad that you liked this post, and the others in the “Lost Influences” series. It always makes me feel good to know that people not only are reading my work, but that they like it as well. I’ve put a lot of myself into my words, which make comments like yours greatly gratifying. Thank you so much!