1. William Goldman: Author of Adventures in the Screen Trade and The Princess Bride. He wrote All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and many others. He also wrote my favorite novel, The Color of Light. What sets him apart is his ability to twist a plot. Just when you think you know what will happen next is when he suckerpunches you with a surprise.
2. Kevin Smith: Director, raconteur, actor, comic book writer, Smodcaster. He wrote and directed Clerks starting with nothing at all. That alone makes him a DIY hero, but there’s more to this cat than 1992. He’s funny and smart, but it’s his facility with dialogue that gets him on my list. If it’s got quotes around it, he writes the shit out of it. Also, we could all learn something from his dedication to his fans and his horizons. He started a podcast, took it on the road and now has a regular home for his shows (Smodcastle.) He’s made a lot out of a little with merchandising and owns two comic book stores to boot. The dude knows how to work a keyboard and a fan base. He is loved.
3. Chuck Pahlaniuk: This author of Fight Club started late (early 30s) but is prolific. He has already equalled the number of books Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his lifetime. His fan base is The Cult and he spread a cultural phenomenon once Fight Club hit the public consciousness. He’s on this list because I share his dark sensibility, but my respect for his work goes deeper than that. He’s a very successful author who is willing to push his envelope with experimental fiction. You either love or hate Pygmy, in which the entire text is related through the broken english of a terrorist infiltrating America. Rant is a weird biography. Snuff details the weirdness of a porn shoot in gruesome detail. He’s not trying to do the same book over and over (Yes, I’m looking at you Bret Easton Ellis.) Is it horror or is it funny? The answer depends on the reader.
That’s the first three who came to mind. These three might strike you as strange choices. For instance, where’s Hemingway? Lists like this usually point to dead writers. It’s what I call “generational inertia.” Our english teachers and professors are still talking about a lot of dead writers because that’s who their english teachers and professors talked about. Stephen King won’t be on anybody’s else’s immortality list for years yet (such an idea was sacrilege when I was in university and is merely implausible now.) Yes, I love a lot of dead writers, but they are easily found on lots of other lists.
So the question today is:
Who are the living writers you idolize?